A Fresh Look at Preparedness

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A Fresh Look at Preparedness

Post by WD42C on Wed Apr 08, 2015 8:59 am

There are more articles on preparedness then there are stars in the sky; but for what it’s worth – here’s another one – from a unique prospective that is guaranteed to change the dynamics of survival, emergencies, and preparedness.

The scope of this discussion will not be to suggest a specific strategy for preparedness; rather the goal is to adjust how our minds perceive emergency situations and how to remain fluid, calm, and adaptive in crises situations.

"There's a better than 50-50 chance that we'll have a catastrophic earthquake… {It} will kill thousands of people and be enormously fiscally devastating," GOV Jerry Brown -2014
Whatever the emergency situation may be – I feel as though there are major gaps in today’s preparedness mindset. I think the practice is plagued more by improbable scenarios that more often deter and degrade the overall effectiveness of an individual’s preparedness.

Proverbs 13:16
“Every prudent man acts with knowledge,
But a fool lays open his folly.”

Let’s drop the mentality that preparedness is weird – that only crazy people do it, because like King Solomon reminded us in Proverbs, every prudent man acts with knowledge. As clearly today’s statistics reveal, those who fail to prepare, or furthermore ridicule those who do, will be the fools.

In 1994, 40 percent of homeowners were covered by earthquake insurance. Now, it's just 10 percent, according to Glenn Pomeroy – California Earthquake Authority (2014)

Bottom line, and argue all you want, there is no single bag that can be carried on ones back that can accommodate every situation possible. It cannot be done. In the same respect, there are endless scenarios in which hunkering down at home would prove dangerous. The same can be said for the general lack of preparedness by a single person or persons.

Furthermore – there are justifications for hunkering down in your home, disappearing into the wilderness, or even banding the community together for group benefit – all should be considered; but first we need to get into a specific mindset that lets us evaluate situations to make the best possible choices.

Survival is a 360 degree scenario is which you’re physical, emotional, and spiritual mindset will need to work together.

The sooner we accept this to be fact, the faster we can move forward with more logical and practical preparedness.

But first, let’s eliminate the zombie outbreak theory.

I’ll address this once, because it’s silly, there will be no zombie apocalypse. There is no such thing as the undead. I’ll accept the fact that America’s general population isn’t too different then a mindless zombie moping about the streets craving Apples next product– but they having starting sucking brains out quite yet (just don’t get between them and their IPhone!).

Moving forward…

Avoid “TRADOC-style” preparedness and be an individual:

Let us not pretend that the U.S. Military has all the answers; their practices more often than not, are far from perfect. However, we can be assured that the military excels when it comes to numbers and statistics. The military identifies a desired outcome – and then formulates a plan that will statistically give them the best possible chance of achieving the desired outcome.

The Army for example, does not care what works best for one individual soldier – the ultimate goal is to do what’s best for the whole – the hive-mind.

The teaching of basic marksmanship is a perfect example.

TRADOCs success and the first time go rate skyrockets when their doctrine and training is implemented on unexperienced shooters; compared to someone who may already be a knowledgeable with a firearm. Again, they don’t want any individuals on the range.

Chris Hernandez, a Combat Veteran, and contributor at Breachbangclear.com was discussing the issues our forces are having with roadside bombs – a topic that is near and dear to me, mentioned how TRADOC failed to prepare units for IED tactics and procedures; he concluded by saying:

“We serve in the greatest Army the world has ever known. Our officers and NCOs have more combat experience than some soldiers had at the conclusion of World War II. There is no reason our training doctrine can’t reflect what our troops have gained through hard experience. There’s no reason the phrase “It’s a TRADOC school” must be a metaphor for “This school sucks and you won’t learn anything.” Our soldiers, in this war and the next ones sure to come, deserve better.”

I bring up TRADOC to illustrate how a one-size-fits-all mentality cannot be affectively applied to preparedness. Being said, there is no single emergency plan to blanket all emergencies; in the same respect there is no single bag of survival items that can accommodate all scenarios.

Bottom line; don’t do what everyone else does, don’t feel that you must strictly abide by other’s lists and preparedness plans. Do what works best for you and your family – BE AN INDIVIDUAL.

The mindset emerges; the success of preparedness cannot be limited to items alone – our intelligence must be our primary tool, and we need to get away from the hive mind or blanket effect mindset.

We need to train our minds to be more fluid, more agile, and more adaptive.

I leave TRADOC with this parting quote from Thomas Paine “a long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, give it a superficial appearance of being right,”

Let’s visit another common military acronym – unlike TRADOC, this is not for training, this one applies to battlefield situations, and more suitable for the topic at hand, the individual, and preparedness – it’s METT-TC.

METT-TC as it applies to your preparedness:

METT-TC was established for field commanders to assess situations prior to issuing operation orders. However, the process proved so successful that it is taught, utilized, and decimated to the lowest levels of command; even the lowest private uses this logic – mostly when choosing the best route to the chow hall avoiding brass.

METT-TC stands for the following: MISSION, ENEMY, TROOPS, TERRAIN, TIME, and CIVILIAN (considerations); this is the formal, study guide/textbook description, however most soldiers use METT-TC as a general, non-specific, “shift on the fly” style logic – for the most part, METT-TC can be watered down to just situational awareness.

For our purposes, it will be necessary to illustrate, in detail, how this can be applied to emergency situations, and the information will be used later in this article.

First, let’s break down METT-TC and look at all of its components.

MISSION- (this applies to both hostile and friendlies) specified tasks, implied tasks, mission essential tasks, and limitations or constraints.

ENEMY- disposition/composition, strength, recent activities, weaknesses, reinforcement abilities, possible and probable course of actions (COA)

TROOPS- Available allied forces, leaders, disposition / composition, strengths personnel and material, weaknesses and morale, and maintenance.

TERRAIN- Physical area of operations which include: observation/Fields of fire, cover and concealment, obstacles, key terrain, and avenues of approach/departure.  

TIME- planning and preparation, inspections/rehearsals, movement, line of departure, SP (start point)/RP (release point).

CIVILIAN- How civilian presence will impact mission or how the mission will impact civilians.


Well, there you have it, METT-TC in a nut shell; and if you’re high-speed you might have already noticed how METT-TC can be applied to emergency situations, including your preparedness.

We’ve established a mindset that can be very fluid, adapting to ever changing scenario that has multiple factors to consider all while attempting to accommodate scenarios of preparedness.

However, it will take a great deal of time and practice to implement this into your daily life – usually seen in those career military guys who acknowledge avenues approach and exits just when sitting down for a burger at the restaurant; again, situational awareness.

One might start using METT-TC to considered different courses of action, prior to taking the leap of bugging out, barricade their homes, to just standing by on heightened alert.

Civil unrest, governmental collapse, foreign military involvement, CBRNE considerations (chemical / biological / radiological / nuclear / high yield explosives), the possibilities are endless and all should considered when conducting METT-TC and your risk assessment.

In this we can see that limiting ourselves to a well put together bug-out bag is horribly inadequate.

Assets and Skills are the Meat and Potatoes:

Adapting our preparedness mindset to encompass all emergency situations will require much more than a couple cans of tuna and a backpack full of pocket knives and fishing string.

Though I encourage a well-packed bug-out-bag as the keystone of preparedness – it would be unwise to stop here, and I ask you to consider a multiple bag plan.

Many consider this the “packed luggage” approach – ready to go without wasting time packing, but is far from something that you can carry into the woods.

The military has been deploying hundreds of thousands of troops over the last decade and has gotten quite efficient in the logistics of moving large elements long distances.

To borrow from their logic we can bring back some extremely useful ideas – multiple bags, by priority.

The standard deployed soldier departs with multiple bags; each appropriately labeled and described by his/her units SOPs. But for the sake of this discussion, we’ll describe them as the following:

A-Bag (Large duffel #1) two sets of uniforms and high priority issued items,

B-Bag  (Large ruck/A.L.I.C.E. pack) – this usually contains combat essential items but not for use in combat – for example the ruck will contain an extra uniform, personal hygiene items, etc…

C-Bag (Large duffel #2) - comfort items and additional uniforms and gear that may not be immediately needed.

Assault pack – Small back pack that has mission-oriented items such as additional ammunition, water, MRE, batteries, socks, underwear, medications, multi tool, mission brief / BOLO- These bags are often called 72 hour bags.

The multiple bag approach is actually a great idea – it gives us some leeway on those items we really don’t need in our bug-out-bag but can’t bring ourselves to leave out.

Of course, adjust for you or your family, but these bags can be broken down by level of emergency severity – for getting out fast, a person can rush out with a large ruck sack (B Bag) and assault pack (72 hour bag). If we have some additional time, we could manage to bring other bags along, especially if we are leaving by car and leaving town.

Here is an example for a family of 4 (as always, adjust to your personal needs):

A-Bag – (Large duffel #1) additional clothes for adults and kids – additional food rations – blankets – extra shoes – personal hygiene – additional ammo – axe – more water

B-Bag (Large ruck/A.L.I.C.E. pack) – traditional Bug-out-bag to contain knives – cookware - food rations - fire starting material - first aid - rain poncho – ammo – water - radio.

C-Bag – (Large duffel #2) family sized tent (usually don’t fit back in the box they came in) – blankets – winter clothes – kids comfort items (stuffed animal/toy)

Assault pack (72 hour bag) – flashlight – lighter – ammo/mags – bottled water – socks – knife – binoculars.

After reviewing possibilities we notice the variety of preparedness in bug-out-bags allow us to accommodate fluid situations and adaptability to any scenario.

In addition to the single BoB and multiple BoB methods – it is also advised to reevaluate other preparedness items. This may include adding supplies to your vehicles trunk – storing items in the garage, and within your home as well.


More from the Home front:


It’s advised to keep rolls of plastic sheets and duct tape available as this is described as the best way to seal your home in CBRNE event. Also keeping thick plywood or boards available (with ample nails/screws) to barricade broken windows.

A lot of preparedness ‘experts’ feel that having spare boards on hand is a bit extreme – but yet these same people make a living by teaching survival and preparedness and just because lumber isn’t as appealing as a SureFire Tactical Flashlight doesn’t mean it should be disregarded.

I have seen looted areas as well as areas that underwent flood and hurricanes – nearly all of these homes were barricaded in one fashion or another.

Basically, boarding up a window is not always meant to keep swarms of looters out; mostly they are used to keep out the elements as well as act as a deterrent or discourage passing thieves.

Building material should always be considered in your preparedness considerations – even if you live in an apartment – owning a hammer, nails, and some wood shouldn’t be too overwhelming.

A tip, if you don’t own a pickup truck and need to haul some wood – no worries, most big-box home improvement stores can cut down your plywood free of charge. They’ll be happy to cut down your 8’ X 4’ sheet down to multiple pieces that can fit in the back seat of most cars.


More on packing….

Packed items should be quality made – no reason to carry gear into the field we can’t depend on; additionally if you’re going to be carrying this bag on foot, you want to shed every ounce you can.

Keep them packed, and kept them consistent, this is key; a lot of individuals pack and unpack a bag over again for fun, or to inventory or swap out ageing equipment, though this is a good idea, it is also imperative to not leave your bags incomplete. If you need to swap aged medical equipment with new items, get it swapped out and repack the bag – you could get caught with your paints down so-to-speak.

Secondly, keep your bags consistent: I am willing to bargain that if I asked a random person to retrieve a compass from their bag, or say a pair of socks, they could be digging for quite a while mumbling “I know it’s in here somewhere”. This is common, but it’s important to train yourself to retrieve an item quickly and put it back in the same spot in a timely manner.

Personally, I keep a large zip lock bag of dryer lint along with my ferrocerium rod and steel. Often I will start a back-yard fire for a BBQ using it (trained and proficient should be our virtues), I know exactly what pocket it can be found and as soon as my fire is burning safely I put it back in. The same can be said about some Alcohol prep and gauze I removed from my pack for a nasty softball wound.

Always replenish, replace, and keep things consistent.

Paper is Paper and Money is Money; the necessary Evil:

Discussing paper money, Thomas Paine wrote:

“One of the evils of paper money is that it turns the whole country into stock jobbers. The precariousness of its value and the uncertainty of its fate continually operate, night and day, to produce this destructive effect. Having no real value in itself it depends for support upon accident, caprice, and party; and as it is the interest of some to depreciate and of others to raise its value, there is a continual invention going on that destroys the morals of the country”

Whatever your opinion on the worth of the dollar, gold, or silver during an emergency situation can surely be debated until we die of old age – so we just won’t.

But speaking short-term, money is a must, or at least while the “getting is good”:

A survey, conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International, found that 78 percent of Americans carried less than $50 in paper money, and that 49 percent carry $20 or less each day. Nine percent went without cash entirely, the survey found. (For comparison, 9% of America’s population is 27 million, so ponder that, 27,000,000 people without immediate means to provide for themselves.)

These numbers are far from disturbing when we think of having cash to tip a server or to buy a snack from the vending machine – but think in terms of immediate preparedness – imagine, as you are reading this, the power at your office shuts off, people joke and kid around about not saving their work – then generators kick on (your office should have them to backup servers) – as power is restored you quickly learn that something has happened to Americas financial network – computers aren’t tracking funds and debts – That plastic card in your wallet can now be used as a coaster.

Would you have enough cash in your possession to fill up your fuel tank or will you have to walk half-way home? Would you have enough left over to pick up a few necessities on your way?

If survey’s math is correct – less than 80% of Americans don’t have enough money to fill up their tank and pick up that gallon of milk (or formula for the baby?).

Half of Americans don’t have enough money just to put a couple gallons of gas in your vehicle! A couple gallons!?!

And again, 27,000,000 Americans are just out of luck.

Surprisingly enough, this doesn’t even have to be a national emergency scenario – Banking networks fail all the time…

June 2nd, 2009:
HSBC has launched an investigation after systems failed at the weekend leaving customers unable to withdraw cash from ATMs. Online banking was also down.

Sept 16th, 2011:
"A little after noon, processor Fidelity Information Systems had a disruption in their system which impacted all of the customers that the process debit card transactions…" said Boeing Employee Credit Union spokesman Todd Pietzch. "It was a nationwide problem affecting credit unions and other institutions across the country."

It meant that debit cards could not be used at ATMs or in stores.

April 15th, 2014:
A network hardware failure is believed to be behind a major outage that crashed most of the Commonwealth Bank's network around the country today. It is understood the problem was caused by a failure of a key piece of the bank's network hardware at one of its data centres. Outraged customers took to social media this morning to vent their frustration at not being able to access their money.


The truth of the matter, we cannot anticipate what will be the currency of prolonged civil unrest, but I can assure you within the early stages, all methods of currency (except electronic) will be accepted – the price however, is negotiable.

Being said, a wad of cash should be part of your bug-out-bag or amongst your preparedness items.

If you feel the need to carry some silver or gold for barter – perfectly acceptable as well.

As for your bank-roll – the sum of your cash is up to you; I suggest smallest bills possible.

If you need to buy a gallon of water and your smallest bill is a $20, guess how much you are going to pay for that gallon of water?

The downside, a $100 stash made up of $1 and $5 can be an appealing to a thief – or to the proprietor you are about to do business with.

You can either break down your money into separate stashes within your bag or ensure you prep the money you have to spend prior to engaging in barter with someone.
Basically, you can’t pull out a wade of money and successfully haggle the price down – it will be difficult.

Last resort – when paper money no longer has any value – you can always burn it….



Skills are like Knives, they must be kept sharp:

Back to ferrocerium and first aid – there sure are a lot of fancy survival items we keep for preparedness. However, simply owning these items without being proficient in their operation is a far cry from being prepared.

Not to insult anyone’s intelligence, but watching a YouTube video about starting a fire won’t cut it – neither will watching a tutorial on dressing squirrel, rabbit, or thumbing a dove breast out.

It is more important than anything, to practice, practice, and practice. We all should be trained and proficient in all tasks of preparedness – and yes, they do need sharping up from time to time. Cassius Clay (Muhammad Ali) used to say that “the fight is won or lost far away from witnesses, behind the lines, in the gym, and out there on the road, long before I dance under those lights."

In respects to Clay, I will add that poor preparations result in poor performance – this much is indisputable.

So perhaps practicing building birds nest out of dryer lint and chipping ferrocerium into them isn’t as triumphant as boxing championships, the end game, however in our case is survival, and carries more glory than all.

It’s worth noting that learned skills often degrade over time – a prime example is field dressing wild animals. For many, including myself, the first kill of the season that I table is difficult to stomach. Why? To be fair I can’t answer that question, but last season I started squirrel hunting early, and bagged my limit and started dressing all game, afterwards I had no appetite. A week later, I’ve become so accustomed to cleaning game that I could do undress a rabbit while eating an ice cream cone.

A literary example…

Though scholars and Thoreauvians may disagree with me, I believe that Henry Thoreau encountered this situation when living and writing from Walden.

He recorded that “once I went so far as to slaughter a woodchuck which ravaged my bean field…and devour him…partly for experiment’s sake.” He continued to report that it had a “musky flavor” and only afforded him “momentary enjoyment.”

I think what happened to Thoreau here was what I described earlier about the first kill of the season – however he was so troubled by it that he couldn’t bring himself to try eating game again, instead he became a fairly strict vegetarian and later recorded in the Higher Laws chapter, saying “I have no doubt that it is a part of the destiny of the human race, in its gradual improvement, to leave off eating animals, as surely as the savage tribes have left off eating each other when they came in contact with the more civilized.“

He clearly had such disgust for eating game that he felt compelled to compare it to savage cannibalistic tribes – furthermore, regardless of any argument, Thoreau had not objections to killing animals, as he often did for scientific purposes – this only reinforces my theory that he was incapable of tabling game.





A Conclusion with Statistics and Insight:

A recent study suggested that about 3 million Americans are “preppers” – however many argue that it is substantially more than that – most likely because it is tough to define “prepper”.

Regardless, very few Americans are preparing themselves for natural disasters, prophetic times, or government collapse.

Though few prepare, the majority acknowledges the coming threats to our society. A recent survey conducted by National Geographic asked Americans which of the following, if any, do you think might happen in the U.S. in the next 25 years? Choose all that apply:

• Significant Earthquake - 64%
• Significant Hurricane  - 63%
• Terrorist Attack - 55%
• Financial Collapse  - 51%
• Significant Blackout - 37%
• Pandemic, Such as From a Super-Virus -  29%
• Nuclear Fallout - 14%
• None of These - 13%

Why the average American does suspect such emergencies but yet does nothing to prepare? (Note 51% of Americans fear a financial Collapse, but 80% of them don’t carry more than $50?

Can it be that the average America is expecting the government to take care of them?

Let’s revisit New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina:

The NY Times reported multiple cases of fighting, rapes, and at least one confirmed suicide within the Superdome.

An Australian blogger, staying at the Superdome, recounts her experience…

“Last night was horrendous. I heard shouting, and drinks machines being smashed. There’s no sanitation and it’s so smelly. My hair is greasy and I feel a wreck. There are crack alleys among the maze of corridors. The lights are broken in the loos which, as well as being disgusting, have become dangerous, so we now only go as a big group.
More people are arriving, and the dome is like a refugee camp. I see two soldiers carrying a corpse and we hear there are more dead in the basement.”



I think if we review the Governments track record in providing aide in disaster situations we wouldn’t be too impressed. I don’t put the blame on the government, they simple did the best they could do, it is a logistical odyssey to do some of the things both the Red Cross and the National Guard did during Katrina – however, If we simple keep a week’s supply of food to avoid the Superdome effect, I would surely entertain the idea.

As mentioned before, there is a wide spectrum of “preppers” in the world.

In a Survival Mom Blog article called “Stop the Doomsday thinking and get busy Living”, author Helen Ruth offered a very simple quote – but the more I thought about it, the more complex it became for me.

Ruth said, “I have noticed when it comes to prepping that there are two types of people— those who get busy with living and those who plan for no tomorrow.”
Earlier in the article she suggested that in her preparedness “we can enjoy the good days ahead and not be devastated if or when hard times come.”
I thought this was an outstanding point, that prepping is not a bleak outlook on life, rather it is hoping for a brighter future, no matter what may come.
I think the same can be said about, say, life insurance; one does not buy it to greet his or her own demise, but rather give your spouse and children a better, brighter life.
I rethought her quote – “those who get busy with living and those who plan for no tomorrow” and how it can be perceived as a ironic mirror image – a catch 22.
Those who don’t prepare for the future may believe they are busy living – but in reality, they surely have no plan for tomorrow and in this, are not preparing to living life to the fullest shall an emergency arise. In the same sense, a prepper may become so consumed in preparing for “doomsday”, that they forget to live the life they currently have.
I hope this discussion opens more doors, more avenues of thought, for each one of us to consider when it comes to our personal preparedness.





By Nathan Hellweg
 














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