This Friday morning I was sad to discover an article on emergency management.com in the “Disaster Academia” section entitled Doomsday Preppers are Socially Selfish. It amazes me how someone in emergency management that claims through her “academic” title to be intelligent fails to grasp how preppers actually contribute to safer communities.
Both federal, state, and local emergency management agencies, as well as NGO’s (non-governmental organizations) like the Red Cross constantly educate the public on the need to have basic preparedness kits to be able to take care of themselves until the emergency response resources can be organized and distributed. The CERT program (community emergency response teams) is a federal/state program with a proven track record. The program takes citizens with an interest in disaster response/emergency preparedness and provides training in urban search and rescue, first aid, and other vital response skills. The goal of this emergency management program is to reduce the load on “professional” responders by using trained citizens based in their own communities. No one is better suited for CERT than preppers.
Ms. Valerie Lucus-McEwen goes on to say:
You might wonder why someone like me, who has been in the business of encouraging disaster preparedness for a very long time, is so critical of people who are doing just that. It’s because they are being socially selfish – preparing themselves and the hell with everyone else. Instead of spending time and energy making changes that would benefit the larger community, in their very narrow focus of loyalty they are more concerned about themselves.
This is false on many levels, but I will pick out a couple. First, if prepping is socially selfish, by logical extension so is buying car insurance. It is spending personal resources to protect against a potential future problem. Does Ms. Lucus-McEwen want me to pay for everyone’s car insurance if I am to have some for myself? Prepping, like insurance, is something everyone can get, and everyone makes a decision how much they want to invest. It is not saying ”to hell with everyone else”, its saying I am going to be socially RESPONSIBLE, and spend time and energy making changes that benefits the larger community by freeing governmental resources to go to those truly in need. No government, organization, or person can afford to be totally prepared for everything, we have seen the devastation caused by Presidential Disasters like Katrina, Gustav, and most recently Sandy. The government has good plans, and some great people, and a deep pocket to pay for response, but it is not the solution to every problem, nor can it be.
She then goes on to say:
Emergency Managers can’t afford that kind of attitude. It is diametrically opposed to everything we do. Our job is to prepare individuals and communities and jurisdictions and regions and – ultimately – the globe for disasters, knowing we won’t always succeed. I could find statistics about how unprepared some citizens are, and then show you hundreds of active and volunteer CERT teams preparing whole communities. In major disasters (think 9-11 or the Christ Church earthquake or Superstorm Sandy), survivors for the most part WANT to help each other.
I too am a professional emergency manager, my degree is in Emergency Management, and I have responded to several large disasters during my tenure in this field. My experience causes me to feel the exact opposite. I cannot afford to not assist preppers. Personal disaster preparedness is EXACTLY what we should strive to induce in the American populace. Personal responsibility and self-reliance has made this country great. Instead of looking down our noses at citizen preppers, and smugly judge their reasons, we should focus on what we have in common, and learn to work with them because we, as emergency managers have more in common with preppers than we have differences.