Episode-715- A Veteran First Responder Weighs in on Preparedness — 26 Comments

  1. Great episode. I think James offered some really useful tips that should be obvious, but aren’t.

    The bit about making sure your address is visible from the street is probably one of the best things someone can do. Just think about all the times you were visiting someone but couldn’t see the house numbers, especially at night. And if your guests can’t find you quickly, neither can emergency services.

    I’d add that if you live out in the country where EMS services come by helicopter, you might want to mark your roof in some way as well. When I lived outside of town, I used to watch STAR Flight helicopters and listen to them on the scanner. They had a hell of a time finding the right house (as well as find a safe place for a night landing, which may be a more difficult problem to solve).

    • @Jakie and here I thought my smoke grenades were overkill. Actually I never thought of making the homestead with smoke for lifeflight but hell it makes perfect sense.

    • As far as landing an aircraft, most of the time the AHJ(Fire dept, PD/Sherrif, EMS) will be responsible for creating an LZ (Landing Zone). If you have a preplanned LZ and are able to communicate the location with the crews on scene, then that could be very helpful. Also, as far as landing indicators, Small Strobes can be very visible from the air. Something for which I have had great success with is 2-4 larger flashlights set 30-40 feet apart on the corners of a square with all of the beams pointed to the center. It creates a large illuminated X that is visible for miles in the air. I had an air crew tell me that it was one of the best LZ indicators that they had ever seen. I would not recommend smoke, flares, or other incendiary devices due to the possibility for fire spread from the rotor wash.
      On another note, when we land a bird for our Dept, I hide behind the biggest sturdiest object I can find (usually a fire engine). I’ve seen what happens when one of those things come apart and $h!7 flies everywhere. Take care…

  2. Truth of directionally challenged people.
    I was gettign directions for our driver to deliver furniture and one of the steps was “go to the street where the dog died last week.”
    My wife was told to go by the old Aloha Stadium. (It was torn down in the early 1970’s before she was born.)

  3. Good info. I have responded to disaster situations and have seen what the lack of preparations for even the most minor situations can result in. I copied the pdf so I can reread it later. Thanks.

  4. When I was a home health RN, I got some really bad directions sometimes. One of the most memorable went something like this: (after a series of turns off an interstate to smaller and smaller roads,) “You’ll come to a metal gate on the right, after you get on the dirt road, then go through it to the barn. Go through that gate, but don’t let the horses and cows out. (No mention of the dogs barking and nipping at me as I opened and hurried to close the gate after driving through). Then you follow the road across the pasture and drive down through that ravine and after you get out of it, go on to the mobile home that you can’t see from there.” Actually very accurate directions, except I drove a 4×4 pickup, but when it rained, it was impassable for my nurse’s aide assigned to the patient, in her little economy car. We had to eventually discharge him because we couldn’t provide care. I always wondered how they got that mobile home across that deep ravine. When my next patient told me to “drive to the fence, then turn left and cross the creek”, my first question was, “Is there a bridge over that creek?” lol

  5. Icestorm 2000, huge area without power. Friends in western middle of no where AR were without power for almost 3 months. Amazingly they didn’t seem too concerned, yes it was a pain, but their day to day life went on.

  6. First Happy Birthday!
    Second-Great episode! Hubby is a volunteer Fireman and he has run into a lot of the same things. Unprepared folks. For rescue services it’s so important that they can find you! If you’re living in the country you can expect it to take a little longer for them to find you because normally those areas aren’t marked as well. I know as preppers a lot of us prefer not to be found, which is fine if you have other preparations or plans already in place. Your neighbors may not.

  7. Thanks Jack! This was a great episode and a another very good guest. I like these in-studio interviews, too; the audio is much easier on the ears than most of your remote interviews.

    James speaks with the confidence of someone who has “been there, done that, and got the T-shirt.” His comments on 911 directions and location information was interesting. Also, I agree with his assessment of having bolt cutters on hand; that’s one that I need to add to my tools.

    I like his philosophy of “skills are more important than stuff.” I have tried to learn new skills to add to the ones I have, and will continue to add.

  8. I posted some additional info about why the changes were made to bystander CPR to “hands only” on the TSP Facebook page. There is some good rationale for it.

    Another great show Jack!


  9. I missed the suggested use of the bolt cutters. What did he mention them for?

    I think I will verify my 911 data right away and make a direction sheet for the refrigerator. My 16 year old daughter might be home alone and need it. Great tips, I liked the interviewee’s sense of humor and attitude. He seems dedicated to helping people in trouble and getting the word out to make it possible, with a little self-preparation.

  10. Very very good podcast, I like all of them but being a EMT-I, and on a volunteer Fire Rescue dept myself I found this episode to be your best one yet.
    You two made me think, I know where utility disconnects are for my house, BUT my wife doesn’t and in the event of a disaster I will be out helping others and not be home with my family.
    Also I think it is very important to know all your streets by heart because when we responded to Joplin, MO to assist in the recovery efforts, there were no street signs up around “ground zero” they had all blown down.
    What emergency responder hasnt been call to “the old John Willcots house” or whatever, I asked my Chief when “John” died and he told me it was 20 years ago. How is that accurate directions? lol.
    Again great show, and keep making us think my friend.
    Happy Birthday.

  11. Just a quick note on 911. My wife and I were camping in a National Forest one June. I’ll save you the details, but we are convinced that somebody was stalking our campsite – walking ~60ft radius half circles around it, they’d stop walking whenever we’d say something, flashing red lights (I associate with cheap night vision) and some other things. Anywho, we high tailed it out only to find we (I) left the keys at the campsite.

    It took 3 calls to 911 and over 3 hours for them to show up to the parking lot where we were. Keep in mind town is only 15 miles down the road. We are in a better place in life now and I’m able to sleep better when we go camping… but it just show’s that sometimes NOBODY is in a hurry to help you.

    It’s also important to remember that the police are not required to help you if it puts their life in danger… that’s been proven in court.

  12. Happy belated birthday, Jack! Very eye-opening and apropos timing. When I listened to this, I came across a motorcyclist who had been hit by a car just a couple minutes before. This made me realize just how unprepared and untrained I am. Fortunately, another cyclist knew what to do and I am sure the injured cylcist will recover. I am moving training and kits up on my list!

  13. Fantastic interview! As a fellow paramedic, I would like to add additional information to the EMT certification section of the interview.

    As a profession, I do not recommend being an EMT, however it is a great educational program and a steal with the price ranging from nothing to $400. I certainly didn’t learn as much in any single college course, and definitely paid more to do so.
    There are small variations from state to state, but the class it typically 140 hours long and half the time is focused on skills, the other half on learning. The class covers first aid, basic anatomy, history taking, medical knowledge, and the use of simple medical devices. In addition, you will get hands on practice and actual experience on an ambulance (and in some states an ER). The material is very easy to comprehend and structured for even those who have some difficulties with learning.

    You should walk away with the understanding of how people present with medical, traumatic, and psychiatric conditions and how to treat them. There is a lot of valuable knowledge that I am overlooking, such as what needs to go to a hospital, and if so-to what category of hospital and how soon.

    The class will vary from place to place, but classes could be from 2 months to 6 months and be a one-a-week-8 hour Saturday class, or a couple hours two or three nights a week. Most classes are conveniently scheduled for the public.
    It is a fantastic investment for the cost (especially since mine was free 😉 ), and the information of course can serve you for years to come in many different ways.

    Shamelessly, I am plugging my up and coming blog,, which will be covering the entire material presented within an EMT class very shortly.

    • Thank you for the information so far! I subscribed to your blog and look forward to learning from you – especially since with school I won’t be able to take the real training classes for a couple of years (don’t worry, it’s just for the extra knowledge).

      If possible, it wouldn’t be a horrible idea to allow comments on your blog though. I imagine people may have questions, especially once you start diving into the material.

  14. If you live rural or in a hard to find place

    1. Find your house on google maps.
    2. Right click on your house. A menu will be displayed.
    3. Select Whats here. The lat/lon will be displayed.
    4. Write that down on your piece of paper on the fridge. Give that to the 911 operator. They should be able to find you.

  15. You are correct to be suspect of the Hands only CPR. I feel that it is part of the “dumbing down” of the general public. Rather than teach to a higher standard, “lets keep it simple” is OK for the general public ‘because that is all that they can handle’. I believe that the AHA found many were reluctant to do mouth to mouth so rather than do nothing lets make them feel OK about just pounding on the chest; figure something is better than nothing. I agree with you; I hope if I collapse but have a pulse, that none of these “new and improved” CPR folks is near-by. If you know how to check for a pulse, do it! If you have higher training, use it! If you don’t have higher training, go get it. If it is a witnessed arrest, there is still oxygen in the blood, so lets get it circulating. If you are incompetent to remember anything else, then go ahead and push hard and fast and pray it was the right thing to do! Just my opinion based on over 30 years in Fire/EMS and safety training instruction.

  16. I had lightning strike a cow 50′ from a 80′ tall tree. Lightning can strike objects that are not the tallest in the immediate area. Best to be in a building or vehicle is at all possible.

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