Lost and Found in New Mexico

Friday, September 02, 2005

Nightmare along the Gulf Coast

My heart goes out to the people along the Gulf Coast. It is a horrible situation and unfortunately not one that will quickly go away. As a member of the Search and Rescue/EMS community I have a feel for what's going on out there and it's not an easy job. It takes a terrible mental and physical toil on the victims and the rescue teams.
The first precept of emergency services; EMS, Firefighters, Police, SAR: Is the scene safe? Well, obviously with flooding, contaminated water and unknown wild creatures the scene isn't really safe. But Emergency workers can deal with much of that. The problem comes when thugs with guns start causing trouble. As a Field Commander, I would never send teams out with shooting going on. I don't feel like the media is reporting about this fairly. The rescuers there are willing and able to do what they are trained to do to save as many people as possible, but it is not fair to ask them to risk sacrificing their lives to thugs who sit on roof tops and fire at them as they try to help. It's also not fair to the different agencies involved for the media to report that they are not doing enough. This is an event of catastrophic proportions. As prepared as these agencies are, and I know the preparations and have been involved in mass casualty training, no one can be completely prepared for something this big.
As tragic as it is, sometimes Americans require a wake up call. Many of us rely on the government or other organizations to take care of us. It's a nice idea, but in the end, there is really only one person you can rely on and that is yourself. Perhaps not everyone heard the call to evacuate, that's an area to work on. And we know for sure that many decided to ride out the storm, some because of past false alarms. The complacency of these people might have caused their deaths. When word is sent to evacuate or you see or hear weather reports and warnings of such a huge storm or any type of potential disaster, do what you have been told to do. Evacuate; leave town or take shelter, but get out of harms way.
And before the shelter you are using starts becoming inhabitable maybe some of the able bodied sheltered people could also lend a hand and help to keep it as clean as possible. This is a crisis, everyone - victim, rescuer and all Americans have to work together to resolve this terrible event.
Today my prayers are with everyone involved in this tragedy, but most especially with my brothers and sisters in the Emergency Service fields (and a special prayer for the New Mexico DMAT and Urban SAR and my friend, Peter, a young New Orleans firefighter) who are risking their own lives to save the lives of countless others.
God bless you!


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