The necessity of training civilians dealing with a crisis situation
The Boston attack proved once again how vulnerable any city or country can be under a terrorist attack. In the aftermath, we were subjected to the news media clamoring for access to the opinions of the experts.
In almost every case the “experts” start popping off and saying what went wrong and what should have been done differently to prevent an incident from happening. After the incident, discussing what went wrong or who to blame is not always helpful. What is very important is the support of the victims and their families. Before the experts even answer their cell phones, attention to the incident and treatment of the victims is the priority.
U.S.A is considered as having some of the best intelligence agencies in the world. The fact that the bombing occurred just confirms that those agencies can’t see or know everything. What most people are missing is that sometimes no matter how well secured a place can be, a well planned attack is hard to detect and harder to prevent. Terrorists (even domestic terrorists), nowadays have extremely powerful cells, funding, skill sets, manpower and most important determination! There have been reports of specific attacks that took 10-12 years to plan and act upon, so it’s not that easy identify their actions and prevent the attack.
One issue that has always concerned me is the need for specific education and awareness for civilians relative to a crisis incident. It is sad to say but we can’t ignore the need for teaching civilians how to react during a terrorist attack or even an earthquake. We teach response to a hurricane or an earthquake and we still have fatalities caused by ignorance. Terrorist or criminal attacks can’t always be foreseen but reacting to the immediate aftermath directly affects the mortality of the victims, arrest of the suspects, and safety of the greater community.
Personally I consider First Aid training mandatory for anyone, no matter his age or professional background. If you are not interested in possibly saving your neighbor’s life then what about being ready if any family member needs your help? Can anybody (no matter age, education and professional background) get trained in basic First Aid or how to deal with a hurricane or an earthquake? Yes they can. Can someone be trained and aware in simple security awareness tips? Yes they can!
After a crisis incident we see people who run around screaming, with most of them unable to evaluate the environment they are in. They feel lost and can’t control their thoughts or actions, they will probably hurt themselves due to panic and fear. It is the surprise of an attack and the disability to control their fear and adrenaline that turns them into a threat to themselves or others around them.
The wounded screaming for immediate help and the few people who can operate in stressful environments come together. The capable helping the incapable, and the “heroes” are not necessary law enforcement or medics. They are people who can put logic to work instead of giving in to their fear. They revert back to their training or previous life experience and offer basic first aid or other support.
There are many organizations out there that offer training. FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency), your local fire or police department, American Red Cross and even local community groups offer everything from basic first aid to advanced trauma and mass casualty care.
This kind of training requires dedication from your side and not many are willing to spend the time in a classroom. The result in selfish time management is an unprepared citizen.
According to the American Red Cross, relating to Terrorism: Some things experienced after a Terrorist attack are:
-Significant numbers of casualties and/or damage to buildings and the infrastructure.
-Heavy law enforcement involvement at local, state and federal levels follows a terrorist attack due to the event’s criminal nature and health and mental health resources in the affected communities can be strained to their limits or even overwhelmed.
-Extensive media coverage, strong public fear and international implications and consequences can continue for a prolonged period.
-Workplaces and schools may be closed, and there may be restrictions on domestic and international travel.
-You and your family or household may have to evacuate an area, avoiding road blocks or be forced to stay locked in your home….. or be ordered into “holding areas” or “treatment centers” “for our own safety”
-Clean-up may take many months.
Tips to have in mind while dealing with a terrorist or other incident:
Be patient and follow directions from law enforcement, EMT’s or fire department personnel.
If you believe you can act calmly and offer help, check for injured persons.
Give first aid and get help for people in need.
If you can’t control your emotions or fear, stay out of the way.
If the event occurs near your home, check for damage.
Check for fires, fire hazards and other household hazards.
Sniff for gas leaks, starting at the water heater.
If you smell gas, turn off the main valve, open windows, and get everyone outside quickly.
Do not light matches or candles or turn on electrical switches. USE FLASHLIGHTS
Shut off any other damaged utilities.
Contact your family but do not use landline telephones.
Check on your neighbors, especially those who are elderly or disabled.
If you’re in a building and the attack occurs inside, head for the nearest exit.
Always use the stairs, NEVER elevators.
If you’re in a building and the attack occurs outdoors, don’t attempt to exit.
If you’re outside and the attack is outside, immediately enter a house or building.
If you can’t enter a structure, determine the direction of the wind and move cross-wind.
If you’re in your car stay inside and drive away from the cloud (again cross-wind if possible).
Shut and lock all doors and windows.
Turn off air-conditioners, heaters, ventilation systems, all electrical appliances.
Close all water and gas taps
Seal the doors and windows. If possible, place damp towels at the bottom of doors.
Stay put until you’re given the all clear by an official authority
Be prepared to evacuate if given the official order to do so.
If your family members are in different places, use your judgment on how to proceed.
If they are in a safe environment, leave them there until the situation is normalized.
Remember beeing aware and prepared to deal with a bad situation can save your life and others as well.
Founder & Worldwide Director
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