This past week, my high school alma mater - The Webb School in Bell Buckle, Tennessee - held its second emergency medical responder training course twelve months. I'd like to share some of our experiences with you in hopes that it helps you develop similar programs at your local schools.
Eight rising seniors and five faculty and staff members took the course which will enable them to sit for the National Registry of Emergency Medical Responders (NREMT) examination to become a state licensed emergency medical responder. The class offered at Webb consisted of six consecutive days, ten hours each, with skills training and testing, along with lecture and written testing.
The EMR certification from the NREMT is quite robust. EMRs are able to do many of the functions of an EMT-B. In addition, these responders will now be able to participate in the county EMS system, where they can get more experience and serve the community by volunteering to serve time serving on EMS ambulances and receiving additional training by the local EMS system.
In the school's rural setting, the isolation can be both an asset and liability. "Big city problems" don't generally plague Bell Buckle (population: 519, as of 2016). Conversely, EMS response times can be north of 20 minutes if the nearest ambulance isn't available. There are only four sheriff's deputies on duty at any time, meaning if there is a significant emergency on campus, the students and faculty will have to be their own responders for quite some time.
We started developing this program back in 2012 with a day long training session for student responders developed by Lone Star Medics. Over time, the school was able to join the other local high schools and receive training qualifying them to be licensed responders in the local EMS system.
As this evolves, we're learning more about how to build a strong response system along the way. We're now to point that:
Meanwhile, other schools in the area are stepping up their game. Nashville television station WKRN did a week long series on school safety this past week, with a number of good reports of what area schools are doing to protect their students and staff.
The report that really made an impression on me dealt with the efforts in Wilson County, TN school system. Watch the report for yourself. These people are doing it right:
In short, school safety programming is in a constant state of evolution. As the standard of care for school safety and security increases over time, schools must ensure they are evolving their plans to keep kids and faculty safe.
LTC CLASS ON AUGUST 12 IS FULL; LOOKING AT ALTERNATIVE DATES
Interest in taking the LTC class is strong at the moment, which I’m glad to see. I know I have had to turn a few folks away. I’m looking at dates in September or October for the next class. If you have a preferred set of dates, let me know and I will try to accommodate everyone’s schedule.
If you’d rather take it sooner, I would suggest checking the upcoming LTC classes listed on the KR Training website. I’d rather you take the course from another reputable instructor than not take it at all. We need more people qualified to carry, and we need those people regularly carrying their guns.
WHAT’S THE FASTEST GROWING DEMOGRAPHIC FOR LTC HOLDERS NATIONWIDE?
Take a look at this article from the Wall Street Journal. It is a clear testimony that more people are getting guns and training to go with it. The uptick in licensing for women and minorities dramatically outpaces the numbers for white males.
I welcome this news. The gun community needs to be appealing to a broader cross section of America to a) empower those who are victimized by violent crime and b) further the effort to keep gun rights strong. I urge you to encourage friends, family and neighbors to pursue their interest in getting armed and properly trained.
SHOULD YOU SHOOT A 22 FOR YOUR LTC COURSE?
On September 1, a student applying for a Texas LTC may legally qualify with calibers below .32 – which means your.22 becomes a legal means to qualify.
Yesterday, I went out to KR Training to requal for my LTC instructor certification, which means I had to fire 50 rounds from a semi-automatic and 50 rounds from a revolver. Since I don’t own a revolver, Karl lent me a Charter Arms 38 Special snub nose.
I didn’t have any problems qualifying (instructors must qualify at 90 percent, while LTC students must get 70 percent to pass). Shooting the 38 snub nose -a gun that I have zero experience with – made it further proved to me that the student qualifying with a 22 but who carries a 9mm may face some legal issues should they use that 9mm in a self defense shooting. There’s a considerable difference between a 22 and 9mm. From a legal liability perspective, I will urge students to shoot at least a 380 as an absolute minimum, preferring they shoot something in the 9mm – 40S&W – 45 ACP genre.
Shoot the caliber – and preferably the gun – that you intend to carry.
THE SITUATION CONTINUES TO ATTACT SUBSCRIBERS AND VIEWERS
Last week’s edition of The Situation was the most watched episode to date, and subscriptions have gone up dramatically over the past few days. Here’s this week’s edition. Like, subscribe and share on social media and with friends.
That’s all for now. Stay safe out there.
Over the weekend, the San Fernando Valley in the Los Angeles area experienced a major power outage. A friend sent me her assessment of the situation. Her email follows, along with my analysis.
I hope all is well with you and the girls. I thought of you last night as I experienced my first California emergency event, and I wanted to share my experiences with you.
You likely saw news of the Northridge power outage. A power station explosion resulted in a massive power failure throughout the San Fernando Valley. I live in West Hills and lost power along with over 140,000 of my closest friends. The temperature outside at my house was 105 degrees when the power went out.
A few observations: Twitter is great source of information in an emergency such as this. #Northridge was trending, which is stunning considering Twitter is a global platform. People posted pictures from upper-level apartments showing an entirely dark LA valley. Others posted pictures and videos of the explosion and fire which lead to the blackout. Many posted news of the business and store closings.
Everything completely shut down - malls, shops, stores, gas stations - everything. Traffic was complete gridlock because no traffic lights worked. First responders were all tied up.
I saw that many people posted about using their phones for flashlights (apparently because they had no emergency flashlights available). Many others, after hours of no power, posted asking what stores or restaurants were open ("no food, I'm hungry") - Indicating they didn't have any basic supplies to get through a 12-hour or 24-hour emergency sheltering in place in their home.
A benefit of watching everything unfold on Twitter was having a sense in real-time of what was happening. After some time, people started posting the time and their location when their power was restored. "Power just came back on at my house in Chattsworth," "Power returned briefly, then off again, in Winnetka," and my personal favorite: a picture of a fully illuminated church with the caption: "Power back on at a church, OK, God..."
Some people took the cover of darkness and lack of available law enforcement to their unfortunate advantage. I saw multiple reports on Twitter of people shooting off fireworks. I also heard what sounded like rather large fireworks being fired near my house. This is stunning when you consider the very dry conditions, the fact first responders were all very tied up, and the gridlocked traffic situation throughout the Valley.
On a more personal note, I was struck by the sense of community I encountered throughout the event, even though this is LA. I was in touch via texting with two of my neighbors throughout much of the blackout. We shared news and information. My neighbors asked repeatedly if they could bring me anything. Another neighbor showed up at my door with two big bags of ice. He was out running errands when everything went dark, and quickly found an open store. He's lived in LA his entire life and is no stranger to large-scale emergencies, so he thought to get as much ice as he could to fill coolers. He shared with neighbors, including us here at my house.
I saw that many people are kind and helpful, and many are careless and crazy. Clearly we need to be ready for anything. I did not anticipate the possibility of fires started by idiots shooting fireworks in the middle of the blackout. I am not aware of any fires that resulted from the fireworks; however help from first responders for fires (or any other emergency) would have been extremely limited due to the circumstances.
I thought of you often throughout all of this. Thanks for all of the guidance and help you have given me on preparedness issues throughout the years.
I hope some of this information is useful to you.
As much as I despise Twitter, it is really good for this type of situation - one where short communications need to be delivered quickly. If you're not on Twitter, set up an account (it's free) and follow you local media outlets, first responders, and the local National Weather Service office.
I am not surprised that the event created a sense of community. We see that often. One of the things I talk about in Pivot Points is the research done by Matt Davis, Ph.D. at Dominican University of California. He is a psychology professor who has done a lot of research on how disasters affect us psychologically as well as how we can improve our mental wellness and sense of community by preparing for disasters. There is a strong correlation between those communities that prepare together and those that experience a stronger sense of community.
You would think residents in California - given their earthquake exposure - would have food and water on hand for such an event. You would be wrong. Becky is better prepared than most, I suspect, as she has made preparedness a priority. Many of her fellow Los Angeles residents were apparently caught off guard at the prospect of an extended power outage.
Note the problems on first responders, citizens, businesses and infrastructure caused by a power outage that only lasted 12 hours. One Twitter used said "it's like a scene from the Walking Dead." What if this had been an earthquake, massively damaging infrastructure, during the middle of a record heat wave?
We can hope this 12 hour ordeal provided residents with a good simulation of what things could be like longer term after an earthquake. And hopefully, the rest of us can learn something from it as well.
I have been talking for some time now about the growing public pension crisis. My friend Greg sent me a sobering article from yesterday's Wall Street Journal which tied together the points I have been sharing with others in my conversations about this topic - the public pension crisis is a public safety crisis.
Let's back up a bit and talk about the public pension crisis. From the WSJ article:
Police pensions are among the worst-funded in the nation. Retirement systems for police and firefighters
have just a median 71 cents for every dollar needed to cover future liabilities, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of data provided by Merritt Research Services for cities of 30,000 or more.
The combined shortfall in the plans, which are the responsibility of municipal governments, is more than $80 billion, nearly equal to New York City’s annual budget.
Broader municipal pension plans have a median 78 cents of every dollar needed to cover future liabilities, according to data from Merritt. The 100 largest U.S. corporate pension plans have 85% of assets needed on hand, according to Milliman Inc. data as of March 31.
And so in municipalities choosing to pare back police pensions to help out the municipal budget, the predictable comes to fruition:
In short, when cops quit, response times increase: in San Jose, response times for what the city classifies as "Priority 2" calls is almost twice as long (19 minutes) as the target response time (11 minutes).
This problem is not limited to police pensions. Firefighters and emergency medical services employees face the same challenges.
As response times go up, as experienced public safety professionals leave for other career opportunities, the public will be faced with less timely assistance from first responders.
Note I don't blame cities for wanting to reign in the cost of these pensions. Some of these pensions are simply not sustainable and were either mismanaged or negotiated with public employee unions using unsustainable funding formulas.
Yet the public will suffer as a result, either through higher taxes to pay the pension obligations, longer response times due to reduced staffing of first responders, or both.
I have said on a number of occasions - we need to become our own first responders. Be ready to deal with the emergencies the first responders face daily, so that we can mitigate the problem prior to their arrival.
Learn CPR. Get fire extinguishers and know how to use them. Upgrade your home's security system. Learn first aid. Put a weather radio in your home. Have a plan to deal with power outages. Consider buying a gun and taking a defensive firearm course.
Preparedness is good citizenship. And we all need to be good citizens.
Happy Brexit Anniversary!
It's been a busy time over the past few months with my work busy season and moving into our new home. In the coming weeks, I'll be sharing with you some features of our new home that make it more disaster resistant.
I recently started beta testing a YouTube channel to talk about preparedness in an effort to reach additional audiences. You see my early efforts here. I hope to build on this moving forward.
Some other items of interest:
-- I've put together an exploratory meeting of what I am calling the Austin Preparedness Society for lack of a better term. We'll be meeting for dinner in Austin on July 13 to discuss the feasibility of having a monthly get together with like minded people to discuss preparedness both individually and as a community. Message me if you're interested.
-- The preparedness classes previously scheduled at KR Training for next weekend have been rescheduled for the first weekend in January. This will replace the Cabela's Preparedness Conference we normally host that weekend.
-- My wife and I continue to support community preparedness and response efforts with the Central Texas Food Bank. We're pleased to be a sponsor of their upcoming Hunger Heroes event in September. If you're in the Austin area, please consider joining us for a fun evening. If you're not, please consider getting involved with your local food bank and urge them to have plans to continue their operations in the event of a disaster or regional emergency.
-- I'll be taking my National Registry exam for my EMT license - the last hurdle - next week. So I'm studying quite a bit this week. I'm hoping to pass on the first try, so I can find some volunteer activities that will allow me to practice what I've learned.
More blog updates to come. I hope you'll let me know what you're doing this summer to improve your own preparedness and that of your community.
Here's where I tell you what I think about things I think about.