WRSA: Unprepared People Can Kill You

From a Pat Hines comment over at Western Rifle Shooters Association, describing one man’s Hurricane Michael incident, this short story shows how people who are mentally or physically prepared can be a danger to everyone involved. Edited for language.

“4 of us men (out of a hallway full of people) were desperately trying to tie doors shut in the shelter in the middle of a category 5 hurricane, with a 140-160 mph wind ripping down the breezeway right in front of it in a storm of debris, doing its best to suck those doors open, which would have resulted in people being sucked out.

We need to cut cord, so I produce a Leatherman. Two people gasp, “I didn’t think you were supposed to have THOSE THINGS in a school!”

In sheer disbelief, but in the interests of not escalating the situation, I went with my second-best response of “It’s a tool, not a knife, just a set of pliers with an auxiliary blade,” rather than my first instinct of, “Who gives a ****, you ****ing idiot! What are they gonna do, expel me?”

It turns out that my daughter and I were the only ones with knives in the place. Go figure.

Meanwhile, a woman is asking, “But how can the rescue squad get to us if the doors are tied?”

“The rescue isn’t coming until the wind stops and it’s over, lady, and we’ll untie it then.” The “if any of us are still alive to do it, and if not, it won’t matter, will it?” was left unsaid.

Another woman was whining, “You need to leave those doors open; it’s hot and stuffy in here, and we need a breeze.” No, I’m not lying.

She kept complaining about it to anyone who would listen, until she was finally silenced by a rawboned redneck woman who suddenly shouted, “B****, there are little kids in here handling this **** better than you are! If you don’t shut the hell up right now, I’m going to knock the **** out of you!”

End of complaints.

Lessons learned:
1. Be prepared with basic tools (like knives).
2. Something like 90% of people are passive observers in an emergency, only a few will take action without being told directly, and tiny number are so incredibly stupid their mere presence can threaten the survival of the entire group.
3. The best way to deal with that tiny percentage is with the real threat of violence, complete with the full intention of following it up if necessary.” – Gregory Kay

Emphasis added.

ARRL: 2017 Hurricane Season After-Action Report

The ARRL released their after-action report on the 2017 hurricane season. Click here to download the pdf. (11MB file)  This is actually a bunch of separate reports glommed together, so it doesn’t read very smoothly. Much of it does not get into very good detail on what went wrong and what could be improved, but it looks like they spent more time on that at the ARRL level rather than the responder level.

From the Puerto Rico response, what amateur radio equipment did you need but not have?

Items mentioned included electrical tape/duct tape, volt-ohm meter, cable ties, SO-239 connectors, insulators, soldering iron, 50′ runs of coax and barrel connectors, mini mag-mount VHF/UHF antenna, VHF/UHF J-pole antenna, compass, headset with boom mic and footswitch, extension cords, power strips, hook-up wire, wire strippers, end-fed antenna, cheat sheets for radios.
From the Puerto Rico response, what did you add to your kit and where did you get it?
Generally, additional equipment was acquired through the Red Cross, FEMA, fire stations, local radio amateurs, or home improvement stores. Items acquired were left with the Red Cross in San Juan. Items included: Extension cords, antenna wire, car battery, hex nuts (used as weights for antennas), rope, notepads, pens, markers, electrical tape, crimpers, wire connectors, pulleys, shackle, slingshot, power strip, coax seal, HP OfficeJet printer, printer paper, headphones, batteries, terminals, PVC pipe, hose clamps, tape measure, power inverter.
The key observations offered on lessons learned included (Puerto Rico):
  • Clearer chain of command
  • ARRL representation at the staging point
  • Deployable VHF repeaters
  • Better screening of volunteers
  • Screen out those who have no experience in Amateur Radio disaster communications
  • Screen out those who have no experience in the needed forms of communications
  • Factor in personality to the screening process; some personalities are not suitable for such deployments
  • ARRL needs to provide education to Red Cross on the capabilities of Amateur Radio
  • ARRL representative on site during deployment (at JFO/EOC)
  • Form a national response cadre that is pre-screened for deployments such as this
  • Smaller and lighter Ham Aid kits
  • Encourage radio amateurs to volunteer with Red Cross Disaster Services Technology
  • Language was a barrier; being bilingual is important
  • Clearly defined list of capabilities of all deployed volunteers
  • Substantive pre-deployment briefing
  • Substantive debriefing
  • Better net structure
What do we need to change? (Irma and Maria)
  • Radios worked well. Possibly replace Icom IC-7200s with IC-7300s for consistency and ease of use.
  • Make sure every radio is digital-capable, with all needed cables and accessories.
  • Vetting process.
  • Improve training, especially with digital communications.
  • Multiple band antennas or several antennas for individual bands.