Tuesday, July 7, 2009

What are you prepared to do?

In the movie “The Untouchables”, Sean Connery plays a Chicago cop named Malone who helps Elliot Ness get Al Capone. Malone asks Ness at one point, “What are you prepared to do?” to which Ness replies, “anything within the law.” Malone then goads Ness by asking, “and then what are you prepared to do?”

The Malone character was getting Ness to understand that once he decided to go after Capone, he would have to go after Capone without any reservations. In reading books about disaster preparedness, most talk about physical preparations (stockpiling food and medicine, back-up generators, etc.) yet few ever address the mental preparations one must undergo to survive a disaster.

An exception is the book “When All Hell Breaks Lose” by Cody Lundin. He is one of the few authors writing about disaster preparedness that talks about how surviving is more about your mental outlook versus physical preparations. Mr. Lundin talks about how the first step towards surviving an event is deciding that you ARE going to survive the event. Sounds simple, right?

Think about Katrina and how many residents did not decide to evacuate until it was too late to evacuate. Most will argue that those people were let down by the government who failed to tell them to evacuate in time. If you stop and think about that for a moment though, doesn’t that mean they had not decided to take their survival into their own hands? The people who did not evacuate were waiting to be told what to do; they had not made up their minds to survive.

Well of course they wanted to survive, didn’t they? Yes but they had not made up their minds to survive. In USAF survival school, you are taught to first overcome your fear and then decide on how you are going to survive. You aren’t going to be told where to go or how to survive; you have to figure that out on you own.

The economy and outbreak of H1N1 has caused people to start carrying around their own supplies of Tamiflu and breathing masks. I guess running around with their own personal formulary makes them feel prepared. But who is going to tell them when to take the Tamiflu?

Waiting to be told what to do is similar to students who read course materials without understanding how or when to apply it. The have the physical materials but are waiting for someone to tell them what to do. Modern technology has removed some of the need to figure out what to do next. Cars now tell drivers when its time for maintenance. Your computer software tells you when it’s time for to update.

In order to survive, the best tool you can possible have requires no batteries or instructional manual. You aren’t likely to leave it at home or back in your office. The best survival tool is your brain and you willingness to survive. Regardless of the situation, a determination to survive will take you further than the latest survival technology.


Quim said...

I worked on a military survival book years ago and, yes, in the foreword it stated that your will to survive was way more important than anything in the book.
A military person is likely in a situation where he can fairly expect the worst, tho. For a civilian, no matter how well he thinks he is prepared, the disorientation of a disaster, like an earthquake, could really throw you for a loop.
Is that covered in the book you refer to ?

Bob Baylor said...

Yes, the will to survive is covered in "When All Hell Breaks Lose". Cody Lundin does cover other survival necessities but his real focus is the unshakeable belief that you will survive.

ATWUSSD said...

Of course your will to survive is probably the most important thing when it comes to disaster preparation. Without it, what is the point. You might as well give up.