Emergency Response Teams: Why Businesses and Schools Need Them!

By Wayne Bennett, President of Survival Skills Company

In a large scale disaster, Emergency Services will be delayed or unavailable. The employees at your site will become "spontaneous responders". When the employees are confronted with the realities of a disaster such as an earthquake, they will be forced to make any decisions very quickly. Emergency Response training will give them the knowledge and the skills to make the right decisions.

The Emergency Response Teams in businesses and schools should receive training in the areas of Light Search and Rescue, Triage, Disaster First Aid, Fire and Utility Control. The early intervention of trained employees will not only save lives but reduce property losses in both large and small scale emergencies.

Light Search and Rescue training will enable the Response Team member to perform an organized seach effort to safely remove untrapped and trapped victims without causing harm to themselves or the victim.

Triage and Disaster First Aid techniques will allow the rescuers to manage an overwhelming number of injured victims by evaluating and prioritizing their treatment as the professionals do in mass casualty incidents.

All team members should learn to use a fire extinguisher. All fires start small. With extinguishers already in place a trained employee could be a real solution to a serious problem.

The failure to control utilities quickly following a disaster could have a tragic effect on the outcome of your emergency.

The key to success will be having a cross section of your organization equipped and trained to handle and manage the chaos that awaits them. They will be the backbone of the initial rescue effort and begin the process of recovery.

For more articles relating to businesses, find it on web site.




Sanitation.... the Overlooked Priority!

"Heat, lack of water, and complete inability to collect/treat garbage and human waste create a severe threat of the spread of infectious disease." This statement was made by Peggy Brutsche, American Red Cross, in her article, "Earthquake Response: Medical and Sanitary Aspects", (BICEPP NEWS, Fall 1989).

In disaster planning, sanitation is a priority – but all too often – a neglected one. Too little time is spent thinking through how the office and/or school will handle sanitation issues for a large number of people when water and sanitation lifelines are disrupted. "An earthquake of between 7.2 and 8 in the Los Angeles basin would in all likelihood knockout its $6 billion sewer system and it would take $4 billion and an estimated three years to bring it all back on line; further, this massive destruction would leave 14.5 million tons of untreated matter.", (Los Angeles Times, Feb. 11, 1990).

Planning for this problem is not complicated. Some crucial items to include in your disaster kits.....

  • Lots of plastic bags
  • Premoistened towelettes
  • Waterless cleanser
  • Toilet chemicals

As well as the standard items that you regularly stock for routine use.




Successful Preparedness

Gail McLean, of Valencia, speaks with enthusiasm and relief when she describes her family's successful efforts to prepare for an earthquake. "You just never think it can happen to you, but then it does! Without our earthquake kit and supplies, we would have been reduced to beggars."

"We kept one kit in each car and one in our garage. With the food and water supplies, we had enough for ourselves and were even able to assist some of our neighbors. We have a three year old daughter, and her security is extremely important to us!When your life is threatened, you need something to hang onto, and our preparedness supplies gave us that support we so desperately needed. We used crowbars, emergency lightning, water, and other supplies. If we had it to do over again, we would have stored even more water, a solar radio, and more sanitation supplies. Our radio flew across the room and the batteries were lost in the mess. Because it was a day before the Red Cross could get to us, the first aid supplies and water were absolutely essential!"

"We regret not doing a better job of securing some of our valuable home furnishings. Our entertainment center and crystal collection might have seen saved had we properly anchored them."

The McLeans started preparations after Steve's employer prepared their offices and then offered employees an "Employee Discount Program" to purchase supplies for their own homes. For this family, the effort was well worth it!!

For more articles relating to businesses, find it on web site. 




Water: Your Life Support System

By Craig M. Carter, 7 C's Safety & Environmental

The last decade of disasters, including hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, and earthquakes, has shown us that WATER is a critical component of preparedness for almost any emergency. Clean water is essential for emergency medical treatments, drinking, sanitation, and food preparation.

Recent studies and planning scenarios by government agencies (USGS, FEMA, OES, etc.) and disaster relief agencies, including the American Red Cross, have resulted in elevated recommendations for preparedness from the traditional 3 days of self-sufficiency to 5-7 days minimum, and 7-14 days recommended.

Why is water a key in these recommendations? Experts indicate that aqueducts and some reservoirs may be inoperative for up to 3-6 months, and the piping systems required to distribute the water to homes and businesses may also be severely disrupted for long periods of time.

Definitive care specialists, including leading disaster medical expert Dr. V. Warhoff, have shown the importance of water. A loss of only 5 - 10% of a person's body fluids can result in moderate shock that can become life-threatening if left untreated. In persons trying to respond to or recover from an earthquake or other emergency, body fluid loss can occur rather quickly, depending on temperature, possible injuries, emotional state, and activity level. What is the recommended basic treatment for shock? Maintain body temperature and give fluids, especially water.

It is important that an adequate supply of water be properly stored BEFORE an emergency so that it will be available for use immediately without the need for filtration or treatment.

Water stored for emergencies must be kept clean and free from bacterial growth and other contaminants. Treat the water with a preserver prior to storage or empty and replace regularly with fresh clean water.

Water, ideally, should be stored in three forms:

  1. In small portable containers for medical or first-aid use.
  2. In portable containers, suitable for dispensing, for personal drinking, food preparation or sanitation.
  3. In large volume container or drums with a dispensing pump for all uses.

The best material for 2 1/2 to 55 gallon water storage containers is food-grade polyethylene, especially containers that meet the US Department of Transportation specifications. The containers may have components made from other materials but only polyethylene touches the water (look for DOT marking on container bottom). On smaller pre-filled packages, look for products with "sterile" packaging and a 5-year shelf life.

The lessons of the last decade of disasters have taught us that we cannot take our water supply for granted. Water is essential for life, and a vital resource in any disaster.




Emergency Response Teams Need Hot Meals!

By Andrew McLandrich, Zesto Therm

In stressful situations, anxiety, coupled with a different or unappealing menu, may cause some people to eat very little or to stop eating completely. This can lead to many problems, including a loss of physical strength, mental alertness, and hypothermia.

The body's ability to produce heat is directly related to caloric intake and metabolism. When undernourished, the body uses stored carbohydrates, then stored fats as fuel. The use of these energy sources leads to weight loss, and to reduced acuity and energy.

Food served hot helps maintain body core temperature. In an emergency, it is mandatory to provide meals that help maintain a proper body temperature and weight. In order to best do this, at least two of the meals served each day should be served hot.

Each of us has experienced the physiological uplift of hot food -- especially when the food is consumed in colder temperature. Mountain climbers, arctic explorers, and others confronting cold and difficult environments have long valued hot food and beverages. For example, these people know that the use of ice as the only available source of fresh water will quickly lower the body's core temperature -- resulting in hypothermia.

And just as melting ice in the mouth or stomach subtracts body temperature, hot food and hot beverages help sustain and elevate body temperature.

Psychological benefits are also derived. The link between the warming effect of a hot meal on the body and feeling good are just beginning to be explored. It is essential that Emergency Response Teams members are provided hot meals. Only then can they be expected to perform the strenuous and stressful tasks that are part of their job descriptions. 




Just For Schools: Lessons from the Northridge Earthquake

By Joe Foraker, Author and Newpaper Columnist

The Northridge quake provided the most extensive test for schools since the Field Act was enacted in 1933 following the Long Beach earthquake. Nearly all schools in the affected areas of the earthquake were able to open within one or two weeks after the temblor. However, before the thousands of students could return to class, enormous around-the-clock clean up efforts were required. Even though hundreds of public schools suffered more than $700 million damage, structural damage to a large majority of the buildings was not severe.

Preliminary studies indicate that numerous schools suffered extensive internal damage. Hanging ceilings and light fixtures fell, window glass shattered, and school furnishings smashed into walls. Dozens of schools lost all their computers, television sets, and other electronic equipment. Science labs were particularly hard hit in area high schools, and the resulting mix of chemicals temporarily created hazardous environments. In some buildings lockers were wrenched from hallway walls and physical education facilities.

Massive flooding occured in several schools when water lines broke, leaving few contents to salvage. The mixture of rubble in hundreds of classrooms made it impossible to save books and numerous items that belonged to students.

Official damage assessments and reports, accompanied by videotapes, will motivate teachers and parents in schools located in earthquake-prone areas to reasses safety and earthquake response procedures. Emergency response people, including fire and police department personnel, strongly believe numerous fatalities and serious injuries would have occured if the schools had been in session.

A consensus is rapidly developing that priority must be given to reducing earthquake hazards in the classroom. Large furniture such as study tables and bookcases should be secured to floor bolts. delicate equipment such as computers and video players can be held in place with special fasteners. All lights fixtures should be examined to determine if they are properly secured. Volunteer parent groups are already forming special committees to make recommendations and design a plan of action.

New plans for reducing damage in classrooms are being developed from the Northridge school experiences. The number one goal is to save lives and prevent serious injuries in future devastating quakes.