Episode-1469- The Official Launch of Citizens Assisting Citizens — 75 Comments

  1. I would suggest on the cracker issue to only supply cheese crackers because of the growing number of peanut allergies.

    • I don’t know about ONLY but I was thinking about that issue during the interview. I would say make sure to always have both at least if possible.

    • I see you point about “only” but I still think it would not be a good idea. People may not be thinking as clearly as they normally would around a disaster area. Granted most people who are aware that they have allergies know to stay away from or ask about certain foods. It might not come out to
      be a big deal but it was my first thought.

  2. One positive out of all this- if there can be a positive- there are churches and individuals who are set up to help. One I am very familiar with is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints- the Mormons. They have regional warehouses filled with emergency supplies, that are waiting and ready when a disaster strikes. They roll as soon as is possible after the fact, not days after. Church members can contribute funds monthly designed for humanitarian or specific relief areas. These supplies are freely distributed to any and all that need help. The Church works with other churches and volunteer groups to get emergency supplies distributed as quickly as possible, not waiting for FEMA.

    • Carol, you are right about LDS’s preparedness. Is there a National LDS Phone directory you could pass on to the CAC team??

  3. In places with a reputation for super heavy snows you could have a guy very close or in those kinds of areas, already set up.

    • The people in buffalo can’t even get out of their own drive ways… there is no US mail, no UPS, that is a hard situation for us to respond to. People can’t even walk through the snow, so even if we did set up, someplace where there was not 6 feet of snow, people would have a hard time getting to us. There are just somethings that we just can’t respond to effectively. A massive earthquake where the roads have been destroyed, bridges collapsed etc, would be another one of those situations. We will do what we can with what we can do. We could of responded to the outskirts of Katrina, but not the center of it, because the roads were flooded and we could not drive in. Plus there was severe lawlessness in many parts.


      • Yep this is a pick your battles scenario if there ever was one. Buffalo needs sunshine and bulldozers right now not the CAC Team. Even with dozers the issue now is where the hell would you even push the snow to?

        The decent news is most people do have power in Buffalo right now, they leaves had dropped and they got snow not ice.

        I think of the hysteria here when we get a few inches and laugh considering that this isn’t that out of the ordinary for upstate New York just a little early in the year for it is all.

  4. Are the mobile trucks going to have a way to attach the phone chargers to the power supply so that none of the people that are being helped can take the charge cables or charging blocks?

    • We’re not really worried about people trying to steal our phone charging cables. No… I won’t epoxy them in, it would just reduce flexibility.


      • It is more likely they will walk by accident. Happens with Pens all the time. Makes me think of this.

        At the place I buy compost and dirt, they have a vase for the pens to sign work orders, receipts, etc. Each pen has a flower like a big old fake flower taped to it. The pens look like a flower center piece. They said no one ever accidentally takes a pen now. I am not suggesting flowers but may be there is something that would reduce the possibility of losses. Though I agree this is NOT a major worry.

      • Steven & Jack,
        Simply attaching some florescent duct tape to the cables will go a long way towards reducing the cables growing legs by accident. Simple, and effective. Take care, guys.

    • A piece of 1/2″ dowel with all the cords wrapped around it once would do it (over and under).

      I’m sure the volunteers can improvise, adapt and overcome as needed.

  5. What about if we live far from a Sam’s club? Personally I live 100 miles from the closest one, but i do live 30 miles from a Walmart. Would walmarts work if people are much closer to one one?

    • Given the entire point is that we are responding from outside a disaster area and into the effected area what is close to your house really doesn’t matter.

    • Walmart does not have the items in mass quantity like sams club does. Since you are so far away from…everything… the likely hood if you were responding to a situation is that you’d be passing near a sams club anyways. They are a lot more sams clubs then there are costcos as well. We took a lot of this into consideration when having the hundreds of hours of discussions.


  6. I emailed to volunteer. I’ll just add that this is a lot of the intent of a lot of local CERTs (community emergency response teams) that are funded by FEMA to a degree. I like the notion of CAC, because I think it will be able to address a similar but different need.

    However, you could borrow heavily from the literature and techniques that they are teaching in CERT and the resources FEMA makes available.


    • I have found CERT to be completely useless when it comes to getting anything done in a disaster. Further the intent of CERT is pretty much to triage the dead and dying, not to feed hungry people, etc.

      The first thing CERT teams are told when they show up to most disasters is to go home. CERT is a great idea that government has insured won’t work.

      • I just graduated from my CERT course last weekend. While i have delusios of being a hero, living in an earthquake, flood and landslide prone area I may be the only “help” my famil6 and neighbors get for several days.

        Also i met a few preppers including a TSPer in my class.

  7. I and my family have seen first-hand how Red Cross and FEMA have arrived after locals have set up elaborate and FREE systems to care for those affected by widespread flooding. RC came in well after locals began to take care of their own people and confiscated hundreds (if not thousands) of pounds of hot, prepared food that had been delivered by area churches and nonprofit groups and legally discarded it because it had not been prepared in federally-approved kitchens. They charged flood victims for every blanket recieved. FEMA arrived later and disbanded local efforts to reconnect family members and disburse food and other necessities. The power plays exhibited by these groups made us so frustrated, but locals were pushed aside. I would recommend partnering with the local Salvation Army or another national and responsible group. They have approved mobile kitchens and know how to work with the bureaucracy to actually help people at no cost. Their sacrificial service is great! No more Red Cross donations!! Make sure you know how your money gets used!

    • As I here more and more stories like this its becoming evident that even disaster response is succumbing to all things bloated, apathetic, and ineffective like many other aspects of government.

      The timing could not be better for for this effort and the expansion of all the other privately funded response organizations.

      I can’t wait to see what the CAC road map looks like! I signed up to participate; hopefully the expansion road map is available to volunteers once vetted.

      I am sure this has been talked about among the founders but I’ll say it anyways; the first few responses should include an archivist/journalist/film crew/photographer to record the event. Once a few case studies get published and the public at large sees what a private organization is capable of I would imagine that would open the door to an entirely different level of donation participation. I want to see the pair of leather gloves Jack used on the first response in a CAC museum in 40 years. I’m just say’in.

    • Red Cross does not have the power to confiscate anything. If they tried such stuff that is what video on cell phones are for, I’d love to see video of them trying to shut us down then put on youtube, and then Jack tell 100,000+ people about it and let it go viral.

      Everyone seems to be bitching about what can stop you from doing your relief work rather than actually doing the relief work. Everyone is making excuses for it to not happen which is what I call “People talking themseleves out of doing something” which a lot of people do in prep, and end up doing NO prep, and end up being helpless in a disaster. We’re doing it.. F the red cross.


      • And that is why I supported Harris becoming part of the CAC board, exactly, F the Red Cross. Frankly it was how crappy their response to Sandy was and how in spite of that crappy response they referred to their response as “flawless” that made me create the DRT (now CAC) in the first place.

        • me and my fam was personally turned away from helping in a cleanup effort after a F5 tornado came through our town, Murfreesboro, TN leaving two dead. The first two days I spent with a friend among hundreds of my fellow townspeople cutting up downed trees with chainsaws and others supplying food and water to these hardworking volunteers, only to be booted WHEN FINALLY FEMA showed up and basically kicked everyone out of the zone. You could go and request a pass to volunteer but with the red tape and restrictions we determined by the time if and when we got it approved the help would be moot. I am really happy to hear about real people doing real things when gov’t is the real issue…

        • I should have mentioned that when I took my family with me it was the third or fourth day after the event and most of the “heavy lifting” had been done, but I wanted to take my daughters in with rakes, shovels and wheel barrow so they could help firsthand and participate and learn a valuable lesson… guess they learned that gov’t doesn’t like “community.”

  8. I am presently using Sloantech to build my website Josh is awesome!!!
    I will also be volunteerimg to be an anchor vehicle . I have a tenant farmer joining my farm soon , I bet he will volunteer as well so we can almost guarantee that one of us will be available, and we both have diesels.

  9. I would suggest, for the future, adding the following to the items the anchor vehicle would carry/supply:
    Disposable diapers
    Powdered baby formula
    Garbage bags
    Rubber gloves
    Tarps (for creating dry ground if there are muddy conditions, as well as the many other uses!)
    Sticky notes & Pens for creating an impromptu community message board

    Of note, FEMA is not incredibly useful, but they do have lots of free online courses in disaster response.

  10. So glad to see that Citizens Assisting Citizens is happening. It is a brilliant idea. So much can be done to help in an emergency without paying a CEO millions of dollars. I am eager to hear about all the good that is done in the first deployment.

  11. Very neat CAC program Jack. Well done. I’m also impressed with GenForward .

    Josh is building a website for me. Steven and Greg were right. Josh spent a lot of time on a very professional website. He is only happy until it is perfect. Anyone who hires Josh to build a website for them will NOT be disappointed.

  12. I think the response vehicles should include a wifi flash drive or even a wifi hard drive with whatever the organization deems to be appropriate quality survival information for the victims of the disaster. Such as the podcast that were mentioned or other information like water purification, methods of proper sanitation, what to do now checklist etc.

    • That is a great idea. If people will have their cell phones, service is up, and they’re thinking about what they can do to avoid being victims next time, they’d have time to listen to podcasts, watch videos, and read manuals. One of Kingston MobileLite SD card readers can do that for about $45. Just hook it up in your cab and put the Wi-Fi network name at your table.

  13. Steven’s concept of the Scout/Anchor Vehicle is awesome. Giving it some thought, I wonder if it would be useful or practical to add a cellular signal booster to the trucks? Depending on the nature of the disaster, the local cell towers might be down.

    • A few years ago I did a 4 hour brainstorming session on this very subject with the owner of a company that does in building Distributed Antenna Systems (DAS) (in building cell phone repeaters in laymen terms) and Radio Frequency systems. The conclusion was its possible but its expensive. Very expensive. It would require specially trained technicians / engineers to setup ad-hoc cell coverage too. not impossible but far more complex then plugging in a Wifi access point.

      I would also imagine that Mr. Harris knows a thing or two about DAS and I would not be surprised if its not already on the roadmap.

  14. I appreciate the focus on starting simple. Suggestions to add more supplies are right in heart, but hell in logistics. The focus being quick response, and flexible mobility. I need to research this somebody, but it would seem you will have my support in Kansas.

    • Additionally and I don’t think people get this, we can have feeder vehicles bring in anything. We can be on site and see, right now what people most need is X, ping the regional coordinator and feeders bring in X. It is that simple. The simple functions of initial response of calories, water, energy, sanitation, communication will always be needed. Loading up a bunch of bulky shit like diapers before you KNOW they are desperately needed takes space and money.

      We will be some of the first on the ground but not the only on the ground. I have been involved in some relief myself and I can tell you generally 5-10 groups have the same stuff and something needed always isn’t there or is in short supply and other stuff is in surplus.

      Scouts go in light, they tell us what they need and of what is needed we bring in what we can.

      • Steven Harris’ Ant analogy made this crystal clear for me. And its the perfect way to conduct such an effort.

    • I definitely see Jack’s reasoning for not including this in a scout vehicle, but if I was a volunteer I’d probably keep a box or two of diapers and formula in my garage to throw in the cab on the way out the door to Sam’s Club. Probably a good idea to keep that on hand anyway for guests and if you need to help your neighbors.

  15. I truly believe this is one of the best ideas I’ve ever heard for emergency response. Jack, you have outdone yourself again in the great idea category. Will be signing up ASAP!

  16. Hi Jack, Just listening to the podcast, brilliant idea and you and the team should be proud of what you are creating, very commendable.
    Communications are not always available through the telephony route, so have you also considered how the HAM radio network can be used to link into your efforts? As we know these will continue to operate and a great deal of your listeners will probably be HAM operators as well and may be able to offer their services in this way.
    keep up the good work – Ian (UK)

    • As a ham operator i agree with Ian, vhf/uhf and hf frequencies should be set out in the SOP so that if two or more HAMS are responding they have a means of communication. If a volunteer is out of cell coverage they could possibly have info relayed to the regional coordinator by another ham in range that does have cell coverage. Becoming a HAM may be an option for the regional coordinators as well if they are not already.

      • As a Katrina survivor i remember how unreliable cell coverage was. Our local provider (cellular south, now c spire) had a mobile cell tower truck/van they drove around town to cover different customers at different times of the day. We usually only had service a few hours a day but if we had a way to communicate with people in other parts of town they may have been able to get comms out of the area for us.

        • Everyone has an “idea”. Here are a couple of realities.

          1. Many of the team members are HAMs many new ones will be HAMs. One must be a HAM though to use the gear legally. Putting HAM gear in an anchor vehicle is dumb unless the driver is a HAM, if he is a HAM he will have his own gear anyway and he is going to bring it.

          2. Katrina occurred in 2005 and Sandy in 2012. The reason Sandy didn’t drop coverage the way Katrina did was more about technology than about storm power. The coverage today (where it exists) is more reliable than it was in 2005.

          3. Everyone that wants to add stuff seems to be ignoring that the TOE was developed by a team of men who are guys with massive EMS and First Responder Experience. Men who have served in Law Enforcement and two who have been Incident Commanders in major disasters.

          The truth is I’d put a cheap CB in the hands of every team member before pushing HAM. HAM is great but many HAMs act like the evangelical people that knock on your door to tell you the “good news” and don’t seem to understand that not everyone wants to be what they are and many are NEVER EVER EVER EVER going to.

          In fact I was going to do the HAM thing at one time and it is this evangelical zeal of HAMs that turned me off. I have other tech and means of comms. I do have HAM gear and could use it (yes I know how it ain’t that flippin hard) in a true emergency.

        • Sorry jack, didnt mean to make you feel like i was “bringing the good news, ” i already know your stance on HAM, and no i wouldnt at all suggest outfitting all the trucks with ham radios, you are right that those of us who are hams will be bringing our own equipment. Cbs are very useful for this type of situation and have their own set of limitations as well as HAM. I DO understand that the cell coverage network is more robust now than it was after Katrina, I was simply pointing out the possibility with a past experience. i think the guys running the CAC are very much on point with their plan and i commend them as well as you for everything y’all do. Love the show!

    • My question was more about the consideration of using the HAM emergency network in conjunction with your CAC rather that having to kit volunteers out specifically with training and gear; i.e. it may be as simple as alerting the emergency HAM network that you have a scout in the area and if the telephony network goes down could they be prepared to help.
      But if you’ve already thought of everything that’s ok

      • The flat reality is we need to do two things and I am going to work with the team to help them happen.

        1. Do some musters. Have volenteers show up at a place working with a church, hand out some of the stuff we will give away in a disaster, invite the local PD, Sheriff, etc. Spread awareness while we drill in some real world conditions.

        2. Respond to some real disasters. What we will need to add, adjust, etc will be dictated by reality on the ground.

        Sorry if I came off a bit strong I am just so tired of hearing ham ham ham ham from hams.

        The truth is of course we will use any and all means to accomplish our mission. As we set up volunteers a file is kept on all of them with skills, assets, etc. Including the vaulted skill of pushing a button and talking on a radio in conjunction with a piece of paper from the government that says you are qualified to do so.

        • No worries you have a lot on your plate, I’m not butt hurt. Its still a fantastic task that you guys are undertaking

  17. In regards to the background checks. What if you are in a field that requires a background check? In my case, I am a volunteer firefighter / EMT basic in Ohio as well a CCW holder. Is the CAC non-profit required to have their own background checks on file? Just thinking we could save some money and put it towards the CAC effort, instead of paying for duplicate background checks. Just a thought, though I am sure some government regulation requires we spend money on duplicating background checks.

    • Yes you pay your own background check. As for as CCW and anything weapons related goes before anyone asks, we simply follow whatever the law is wherever we operate.

      • One reason to do a “new” background check is just because a volunteer had a background check related to a current or past job doesn’t mean that person hasn’t committed some kind of offense SINCE they were last checked… so, probably a good idea to check them now to make sure they are “clean’ up to “now.”

  18. I do know a disaster worker who says when he is unloading the truck, the violence can be incredibly dangerous as people become driven to get the food and water and become dangerous attackers to the workers. You will need to locate some people to train the volunteer responders in ways to deal with the violence. I agree with Jack to have the law enforcement be at the site.

  19. Josh @ Sloantech –
    a very big hearty thank you for all of your hard/thoughtful work on the CAC website. it looks great!

    • I am truly humbled by the attention. Web dev and web marketing is all I have done since 1994. I know there are a lot of qualified folks who could have done the job. I am thankful to have been picked and to have been able to stick with it so long. The TSP community and initiatives rock. I look forward to continuing to support

  20. Something I might have missed in the podcast.. how do we know when the CAC is being ‘activated’?

    Is there a place to sign up for ‘alerts’?

    • there will be this big sentinel light cast upon the clouds for all to see. If someone is activated and deployed, they have instructions to take a lot of photographs and I’m sure Jack will send out a notice to all that CAC has been deployed for the first time and here are some of the photos.


      • =)
        That better be a pretty big light!

        I ask because I pay ZERO attention to the news, so I have no idea what disasters may be occurring outside my circle of influence, unless their mentioned on TSP, which I might not listen to for several days (gasp!).

        So.. if something bad was happening on the East Coast, I wouldn’t know until days later. To ensure I can hurry along an extra donation, it would be good to know about the need.

    • Insidious, go make a donation right now at and then you’ll be on our email list and we’ll email you when something is going on and we need donations.


  21. Keep this in mind. Some companies (mine included) offer a company match to employees donations for non-profits. Double the power!

  22. Would it be worth looking into getting an “Amazon Smile” set up for CAC to get some more donations? When is the official 1.0 list for scout/anchor vehicles? I swear I already have most of the list.

  23. This is awesome and I will definitely be making some donations.

    One question, I didn’t hear anything in regards to plans for security for the people who respond. I’ve been in a few disasters (LA Riots, Northridge Quake and a few wildfires) and my whole NY office was effected by Sandy. The one thing that seems to be universal is that once people become hungry and need things, they get desperate. If you have a truck full of supplies with a generator, etc and only a couple people, it becomes a target – especially if people want to get out of the area and are considering taking the truck.

    Understanding that responders to areas/states won’t be allowed to concealed carry. Just wondering if there are protocols in place taking these things into consideration.

    Also, I wanted to suggest adding a box of plastic grocery bags to each truck. They may come in very handy for people who are trying to carry their things along with the water and crackers that the team is handing out (especially if they have little kids).

    • 1. There is NO generator. You don’t need a generator to run 18 watts of light and to charge some cell phones. The vehicle has an inverter, so there is no generator ‘signature’ humming away. 2. The answer is THEY LEAVE. If they feel threatened, they LEAVE. We are there on day 1 or day 2, long before ‘desperation’ kicks in. Its the whole job of CAC to alleviate some of that desperation for food and water before it becomes a problem.

      We’re not sitting there for 2 weeks like the Red Cross, if they show up or the National Guard or anything like that. We come in, we help, we leave when the boys show up. We are suppose to be quicker and faster than them, not duplicate them.


      • And if we still have stuff and man power we go to a less effected area being ignored where people still need help.

  24. Love the idea guys. I know that a lot of time has been put into this and I do not want to step on any toes here. Maybe these things have been already suggested and discarded, but though I would put them out there to be considered it they have not been suggested before.

    1. I was thinking a small heavy duty trailer would fit the bill rather than a built truck. Maybe something such as these (not affiliated with by the way, just a example). They could be set up with surge brakes so anyone with a vehicle rated to pull it and a hitch could with just a simple 4 pin light hookup. They could all be configured the same and have supplies already installed and ready to go to anyone who was available to pick it up, saves time having to transfer supplies from one vehicle to another. They would free up pull vehicle space for extra supplies, if need be. You could have instant response with the regional trailer, but if more support trailers were needed they could be tag teamed across country by available regional volunteers easily. Should be cheaper to build up than a truck. Larger solar array could be mounted to roof. Awnings could be affixed to both sides for shelter and easily deployed. Could be set up to open door and ready to provide service and close door and get out quick if need be.

    2. Support vehicle should have electric/gas chainsaws available for obstacle removal, could be faster than winching or used in conjunction with winching. Can be stored in trailer if responding tow vehicle does not have winch.

    Just some ideas. thanks for looking. George.

    • A trailer load of stuff/specialized equipment is great, but outside the scope of the “Scout” vehicle idea. Personally, I agree, and think that I’ll start putting together something like this, AFTER I get the rest of my gear set up.