GUEST WORDS--As an Emergency Manager, it always amazes me how people get really riled up immediately after events such as the two big earthquakes we just experienced or the active shooter tragedies we’ve sadly witnesses more and more frequently.
People make statements proclaiming their intention to act and become more prepared, then, as the days and weeks go by, those conversations begin to fade along with the drive to do it. Part of me wonders if it’s just less taxing emotionally to forget all those declarations about becoming prepared immediately following disasters or big events, or if it’s an over-reliance on the perceived notion that the government will step in and take care of everything for you.
There is no doubt you can rely on government to provide services for the normal (blue skies) day-to-day emergencies like fires, medical transports and law enforcement. These tasks are done by professionals who know how to provide those services and you can count on that. But, is it feasible to believe that after a truly catastrophic disaster (which Southern California has not yet experienced) those services will be able to assist you at the same level as before the disaster? A catastrophic event could lead to service breaks in utilities (gas, water, electricity), transportation (roads not passable and limited access to fuel), supply chains running dry (food, household goods) and even limits to medical care (medical service and medicine). Are you prepared for that?
Truth be told, government entities want to be able to fulfill expectations that they have all the answers, solutions and resources -- but that is not the reality. The best-case scenario is that we as citizens will control our own survival outcomes, taking care of ourselves after catastrophic disasters until help can arrive. Imagine calling 911 and having no one answer, at least not for days. What would you do?
We as citizens must be ready to care for ourselves under these circumstances. Don’t allow yourself to be a victim. Instead, be a survivor. Develop your own family emergency plans, stock up on supplies, seek out Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training and other survival information. Become an amateur radio operator so that you can communicate with other operators if normal communication lines are down. It’s time to start taking responsibility for your own survival and learn resilience. We need to realize that government services after catastrophic events will be limited and we may need to survive on our own. Make yourself ready.
(Mona Curry is a resident of the City of Los Angeles and has worked for the City for 25 years. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.) Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.