Thursday, June 13, 2013

Family preparedness for disasters or other emergencies

Book review by Wade Breur

Harrison, Kathy. (2008). Just in Case. North Adams: Story Publishing. 236 pages. Available at book stores for $10.36

Have you ever wondered how you would handle emergencies that can occur to anyone? What would you do if you did not have power at your home for twenty-four hours? What about 2 weeks?

In the book Just in Case, the author explores emergency situations that a common family may find themselves in. This book provides easy to practice ways to prepare yourself and your family for many if not all of the common emergencies that people may be faced with. The author takes two fictional families and follows how these families would do in the event that power was out for nearly a month as what occurred with Hurricane Katrina.

 The author has applied lessons from events like these in her own life and for nearly twenty years now, she has taken seriously her ability to be able to provide for her family in the event of emergency. She feels like she is able to be self sufficient in the event that power and water are no longer provided by local city and county entities. Rationale The reason why this book meets the requirements for this assignment is that it provides realistic information on how individuals and families can prepare for emergencies from the power outage to fire safety and response.

 The preparation for many of these scenarios is covered in two parts. The first part describes how to organize, acquire and rotate food and emergency systems. The next part specifically covers personal preparedness and preparedness with children. Finally, the question of how to effectively become prepared is answered in an easy to understand way in how to prepare your home and family to handle a crisis.

 The OAR Method 

 Have you ever wondered where to start when it comes to doing your own emergency planning? I believe the author has come up with a fairly basic principle that is titled O.A.R. which stands for Organize, Acquire, and Rotate (Harrison, 2008).

 Organize means that you simply organize what you have by taking an inventory of your supplies from food storage and those things that will provide you with some sort of use in an emergency situation. During this step of the process, the author stresses the need to organize your storage areas such as closets so that you are able to maximize the most space you can to store the things you may need to keep you and your family alive when the time arises. Notice that I use the word “when” instead of “if” when describing the possibility of an emergency to occur. The author did not go into great detail regarding the difference between “if” versus “when”, however when reading this book, it caused me to ponder the difference between these words. As a person uses the term “if” this happens to me, then I will be able to do this or react a certain way. The problem with using this term is that “if” keeps in the back of my mind that there is possibility that something could happen, but it is not as likely to occur. By using the term “when” this happens to me, it creates a resolve in my mind that it is going to occur and I am going to be prepared to handle whatever the situation produces. “When then” thinking provides me a way not only be physically prepared with the resources to survive and an emergency, but also to have the mental status needed to survive as well.

 The “A” in the OAR system means to acquire what you determine is necessary for that part of personal preparation you are working on. During the organizing phase of your preparedness, the author says for you to take note of what you need by beginning a preparedness notebook. Notice the author said notebook and not electronic spreadsheet for this step of preparation. One thing that is certain is that technology can and will fail during a crisis, but your preparedness notebook as long as it is stored with your emergency supplies that will be grabbed will be there for you to reference. The author enters into great detail about how to properly acquire the necessary items for your specific situation. What I got out of this section that will be most useful to me and my situation is that I need to be acquiring what I use on a daily basis when it comes to food storage. Too often, people will go out and buy wheat and certain grains that are not used on a daily or even a monthly basis. They expect they will be able to do something with them in the event of an emergency or crisis where they now need to use these items such as grain and the person has now history or know how on how to do this. This is a big mistake that I will be sure not to fall victim to.

 The “R” in the OAR system stands for rotate. Rotation applies to not only the food stores that you are building up, but also your emergency items. How often do you think to check out the supplies you stored last year or two years ago in your 48 hour grab bags? Are the batteries still good and what kind of shape are those granola bars you placed in them? Once again, this is another plug for that preparedness notebook. The notebook is a great way to track the dates and rotation schedule for your own food and emergency supplies and helps you feel like you are in control and manage this preparedness idea.

The last section of the book contains recopies and how to on preparing your food storage which does make for dry reading, it does though provide some good reference information that can be used in your time of need. Parts 2-4 of this book go into detail on how to handle and prepare for specific types of emergencies and some of the best ways to prepare for them.

 To give you an idea regarding each of these areas covered it is best to refer to the following topics covered: 

  • Personal preparedness 
  •  Home systems 
  •  Communications 
  •  Preparedness with children 
  •  Pets 
  •  Preparing your car 
  •  Evacuation 
  •  Loss of power 
  •  Fire in a home 
  •  Natural disasters 
  •  Toxic hazards 
  •  Pandemic 
  •  Terrorism 
  •  Food ideas and preparation 


 I truly felt it was the author’s intention to provide not only very detailed information regarding what to do in specific emergency situations, but how to become prepared for them. This was done in a way that I felt that even in my situation, I can accomplish a preparedness level that is not only attainable in small bites, but it also makes sense. I am not by any means a person who obsesses over being prepared for every emergency situation. However, I do believe that by obtaining a level of preparedness that I know I have resources for at this time helps me to feel better about my family situation as well as rest better at night. Finally, I do recommend this book to anyone who is serious about increasing their personal level of preparedness.

 Harrison, K. (2008). Just in Case. North Adams, MA: Story Publishing

The Unthinkable: Who survives when disaster strikes and why

Author: Amanda Ripley
Review by Cortney Crosby
            I decided to write my book report on the book The Unthinkable:  Who survives when disaster strikes and why. This title caught my attention because it looked like it covered multiple different disasters and the best ways to survive them. When I was looking at the cover of the book deciding on whether or not to read it had a quotes from multiple sources like the New York time that were ranting and raving about how interesting and useful it was.
The author Amanda Ripley is a senior writer for Time magazine. One of the main things that I really enjoyed about Amanda’s book is the research she did for it. She is very knowledgeable about every incident she discussed. I think she came at this book from every angle possible. She not only covered details from victims but also the perpetrators. That alone I feel was a great asset to this book compared to others because I feel like too often we as readers miss out on the opportunity to hear both sides. It was refreshing to see the obvious hard work she put into tracking down and interviewing all of the people she wrote about. She also did a great job at looking at the medical side of how people react to stressful situations and their recovery. I think that the author’s intentions with this book were to get the general public to take a proactive lead in getting educated in what to do in the case of a disaster. She tells a lot of stories in this book from the first hand experience from normal people that got put in extremely unfortunate situations. Amanda did a good job at also not focusing on one type of disaster. She covered a wide array of tragic incidents for example local incidents like September 11th to foreign incidents abroad dating as far back as 1917.
             While I think she did a great job at breaking down peoples different reactions to a very wide arrange of disasters there was still something missing for me. The author writes a lot on what other people have told her and what they have experienced. She also writes a lot on what other people find helpful and how they dealt with these horrific events. I think a book like this would benefit from someone who as experienced some sort of disaster. Of course having said that her unique background of being the reporter for many of these types of incidents does give her an interesting individual take on these events.
            The author broke the book into three parts. Part one consisted of a section she described as Denial. She also broke it into two sub groups called Delay and Risk. In the Risk section she talked about how people in life threatening situations acted as though it wasn’t that big of a deal. For example she told a story about a lady who was in one of the building during the September 11th attack. She talked about how she knew it was a dangerous situation and yet she and her co-workers on average took 30 to 45 minutes to get from their cubicles to the stairs where they could evacuate. She called the second part of her book Deliberation.  Which she broke into three sub categories Fear, Resilience, and Groupthink. In these sections the author did a great job at showing perfect examples of each of these situations. In her fear section is where she had a great insiders story from a hostage situation not only from the victim but the gunman as well.  Part three of the book was called the decisive moment, which was broken into three sub categories Panic, Paralysis and Heroism. In the Heroism sections I found it interesting that Evolutionary Psychologist Gordon Gallup Jr. has such a strong belief that the average hero would be male, single, childless and young. His reasoning behind this was that heroes are the ones who get all the girls. He also says that with girls they are looking for quality not quantity therefore they wouldn’t be as likely to do heroic acts outside of parenting. Amanda then writes her conclusion to her book, which she calls making new instincts.
             Over all I believe that Amanda Ripley goal for this book was her way of trying to light a fire under the average Joe so to speak. So that people are/ will become more educated about what disaster they are really likely to encounter and how to best be prepared for them. I think she did a great job at explaining better ways that we as emergency responders can help educated and train the general public. One of the easiest examples of this that she talked about was instead of just giving direct orders of how to do something she said to explain the whys behind it. I know that I am more likely to follow directions if I know why I am doing them so it makes sense that others would like the same courtesy. Over all I thought it was a very educational book and I would recommend other to read it.

Ripley, Amanda. (2009). The Unthinkable:  Who survives when disaster strikes and why. New York: Three Rivers Press. 266 pages.ISBN: 978-0-307-35290-3 Available in the US for 15.00. 

Collateral Kindness

Collateral Kindness
Author: Paul Holton
Published by Plain Sight Publishing, Springville, UT. 2013
159 pages

Book Review by Andrea Graff

    The media coverage of the war going in Iraq liked to focus on one thing, devastation. This was shown in all forms from homes being destroyed to lives being lost on both sides, leading many to believe that devastation is all that took place. This isn't true and Paul Holton wrote his book “Collateral Kindness” to let the world know that there was so much more going on that you didn't hear about in the news. Paul is passionate about the work that he started in Iraq and his passion really comes through as you read of his experiences overseas.
    Being in the military everything talked about when it comes to military stuff and being overseas makes sense to me and I can picture most of it in my head. However, I still think the jargon used was explained well and that you can still get a sense of what he is talking about. I also think there are some things that are over-explained that really had no importance to the book. 
    Paul was all about the individual people who had been living under Saddam’s regime and wanted them to be happy and treated right. He took it upon himself to make sure that every child he came across received a toy or stuffed animal and loved to see the happiness these small acts of kindness brought to their faces. 
    The book opens with his experience of being sent to Iraq and his experiences with interrogating the top officers who turned themselves in at the beginning of the war. You can tell right from the onset of the book that Paul really cared about the people of Iraq. He wanted them to know freedom and to be with their families and he didn’t rest until he saw it happen. He would go out of his way to help them reconnect with their families even when it was outside of his jurisdiction. All of the prisoners were given new T-shirts and jump suits, along with additional clothing whenever they needed it and much more. They had plenty of toiletries, medics came every morning to check on them. They were able to shower daily and had plenty of water. They were also served food that was common with what they would have eaten only a daily basis anyway. Paul also wrote that during their interrogations he never witnessed any physical abuse of the prisoners. 
    Paul was always trying to find others whom he could help. He would pick up someone he saw walking along the side of the road and gave them a lift to wherever they were going. He knew that by doing nice things for others it would only bring happiness to himself. Everyday when he and Major Price were done with their military duties they would transform to the “Good Luck Genies” going around trying to find others to help. 
    While in Iraq he received a box of toys and animals from his coworkers at FedEx. One day he saw a little girl on the opposite side of the barbed-wire fence and went to his box to get her a toy. The girl was so overcome with happiness and there was such an attitude of thankfulness that he knew his new mission. He immediately emailed home and asked for more toys. 
    As time went on toys kept coming in along with monetary donations and they were able to provide for a lot of the children. Problems arose and he explains how they were worked around. A non-profit 501c3 organization - Operation Give was set up “to get around an Army policy forbidding goods to be shipped that were intended to be given to another individual.” (Holton) He received a lot of help and gives credit to a lot of people back in the United States. To this day Operation Give is still going strong and children and families all over the world are being helped by the foundation.
    There’s a pretty good mixture to the book going back and forth between his duties in the military and the intelligence side of things to living in a war zone and mortars coming in at all hours of the day and night, and then back to the humanitarian side where they would find orphanages and schools to take supplies to give to the children. It tells a lot about his experiences interrogating the locals and really getting a chance to know them on a more personal level than most soldiers were able to. 
    A quote that I feel sums up his feelings on the humanitarian side of his experience is: “We can make a difference in another person’s life in any situation we find ourselves in, sometimes by the most seemingly insignificant acts of kindness. No matter where we were or where we went, there were so many opportunities tos hare something with others, making a lasting impression on everyone we touched. There was always a way to have a Good Luck Genie moment as we hustled around in our daily life, even when we thought we were too busy.” (Holton)


Holton, Paul. (2013). Collateral Kindness. Plain Sight Publishing: Springville, UT.

Fire on the Mountain

Fire on the Mountain
By John Norman Maclean
Book Review by Bryan J Christensen

Introduction to the author John Maclean
John Maclean was a writer, editor, and reporter for the Chicago Tribune for 30 years before he resigned his job there in 1995 to write Fire on the Mountain. Maclean was born in Chicago, Illinois, in 1943, the second of two children. He attended the University of Chicago school system through high school, and then enrolled at Shimer College in Mt. Carroll, Illinois, then a satellite school for the U of C. He was an honor student at Shimer and received a Bachelor of Arts degree in humanities in 1964; he received the school’s distinguished alumni award in 1975. Maclean left the Tribune after the South Canyon Fire on Colorado's Storm King Mountain killed 14 firefighters. He spent the next several years researching and writing his first book, Fire on the Mountain, published in 1999. The book was the Mountains and Plains Booksellers Association's best nonfiction title that year. He followed this with two more books on fatal wildfires; they were Esperanza Fire and The Thirty mile Fire. (Maclean)
It was the love and passion that Maclean has in his writing to tell the true story of what had taken place in these fatality fires. He has always had a passion along with his father who is Norman Maclean, he wrote the book Young Men and Fire. This is the reason that I have chosen to read and tell about this book.
Review of the Incident:
On July 2, 1994, seven miles west of Glenwood Springs, Colo., lightning ignites a Bureau of Land Management fire in pinion-pine juniper on a ridge at the base of Storm King Mountain. The fire, paralleled by two deep canyons, is initially believed to have “little chance” to spread. The past two days, lightning has started 40 new fires on this BLM District. The entire general area, in a one-year drought, is experiencing low humidity’s and record-high temperatures. Over the next two days, the South Canyon Fire increases in size. Visible from Interstate 70 and nearby residential areas, the public becomes concerned. Some initial attack resources are assigned. From July 3-6, the fire grows to approximately 2,000 acres. On July 6, a dry cold front moves into the fire area. As winds and fire activity increases, the fire makes several 100-foot flame-length rapid runs within the existing burn—in dense, highly flammable Gamble oak. Fourteen firefighters perish as they try to outrun the flames. The remaining 35 firefighters survive either by escaping down a deep drainage or by seeking a safety area and deploying their fire shelters. (South Canyon investigation)
Book review
As you read the book Maclean was able to help paint the picture needed before the fire even started. There were two fire centers located within seeing distance of each other. One was the Western Slope Coordination Center and the other was the Grand Junction Dispatch center. There had been some problems between the two centers communicating with each other. It has been an ongoing problem for years and neither side wanted to fix the issues.
After the crews began fire suppression they requested addition resources. There were 8 smoke jumpers that were dispatched and jumped the fire on July 5. They landed and made radio contact with the IC. They never were able to do a face to face briefing with the IC and he was leaving the fire with his crew for the night and left the fire to the jumpers. When the jumpers began to attack they fire they realized that the terrain was steeper than it appeared from air. They had to disengage several times and notified the dispatch center. While the firefighting activity was being done on the mountain there was a red flag warning issued for high winds and storm front moving into the area. This message was never passed onto the fire line. More crews were ordered but only one crew was filled with the Prineville Hotshots.
As the jumpers began building fire line down the west flank, there were several that felt it was not a good idea to build the line downhill with the fire below them. After talking with the jumper in charge they decided to go ahead and start the building the line.  Later nine members from the shot crew arrived and began helping constructing the line.
Again there was a red flag warning issued for strong winds and cold front moving in. The weather service sent out the notification and wanted to make sure that it was passed along so the proper actions could be taken. The message was lost and never passed on. It was predicted that the weather was going to impact the fire around 4pm. Cuoco was instant to make sure that his message was to be delivered to the people out on the line. The dispatchers were so over whelmed with the many fires that the message never was passed on.
As the fire progressed it still had the same incident command system in place. It was not adapting to the changing fire as it grew larger than the command system was able to handle at that time. At approximately 4 pm when the fire was supposed to see the cold front and the shifting winds. The fire then blew up and spotted across the drainage and made the push up the hill towards the firefighters. 35 firefighters scrambled for their lives. 14 lost their lives as they were not able to escape the fire. Don Mackey was able to escort several others to safety and then went back to help others get out. It was that time when Mackey was also taken over by the fire. They said that is how Mackey was every day. Always looking to make sure others were safe but this time it had cost Mackey the ultimate price, his live looking to safe others.

The fourteen firefighters who tried to outrun the flames perish were: Kathi Beck, Tami Bickett, Scott Blecha, Levi Brinkley, Robert Browning, Doug Dunbar, Terri Hagen, Bonnie Holtby, Rob Johnson, Jon Kelso, Don Mackey, Roger Roth, James Thrash, and Richard Tyler.
With this incident we have learned several lessons and hope to use them to prevent any other tragic incidents. Some people think that the mentality and thinking of the smoke jumpers and shot crews had clouded the bigger picture of safety. They have always assumed that they were an elite group of firefighters and could handle anything.
Three major factors were identified that contributed to the blowup on the afternoon of July 6, 1994. First was the presence of fire in the bottom of a steep narrow canyon. Second, strong up canyon winds pushing the fire up the canyon and upslope. Third is the fire burning into the green gamble oak canopy.
Some of these points were readily apparent to firefighters. Others may be less evident. It was believed that all are important. They are:
  • Topography can dramatically influence local wind patterns.
  • Vegetation and topography can reduce firefighter’s ability to see a fire or other influencing factors.
  • Current and past fire behavior often does not indicate the potential fire behavior that could occur.
  • The longer a fire burns and the larger it gets the greater the likelihood of high-intensity fire behavior at some location around the perimeter.
  • The transition from a slow-spreading, low-intensity fire to a fast-moving, high-intensity fire often occurs rapidly. This seems to surprise firefighters most often in live fuels.
  • Escape route effectiveness should be considered in relation to potential maximum-intensity fire behavior rather than past or present fire behavior.
  • The underburned gamble oak did not contribute to the blowup. It was significant in that it did not provide a safety zone.
  • Smoke can significantly reduce the firefighter’s abilities to sense changes in fire behavior.
This was the first fatality incident involving jumpers since the Mann Gulch Fire in 1949.
Along with these points that was listed there was also the feeling from people doing the investigation that they were wanting to put the blame on the fire fighters and not on the numerous errors made by upper management and the bad blood between the dispatch centers.  
Maclean, J (1999), Fire on the Mountain, The true story of the South Canyon Fire

    Young Men and Fire

    Young Men and Fire
    By: Norman Maclean 
    Book Review by DeVan Lord

                The long history of firefighting in America is documented back to the late sixteen-hundreds. The earliest documented forest fire was recorded over two-hundred years ago in a journal entry dating back to October 1804. In the years following, fire groups, fire wardens, and fire towers were established to be watch outs for forest fires around the country. In the later years of 1886 the first Wildland Firefighter crews were created; considered more to be park rangers because they fought fires in their perspective areas of the national parks/forests.
                Fire history truly began after the first firefighting group was formed, along the way, new firefighting methods were created, ways of putting out fires, ways to survey fire behaviors, and the different types of fires to types of buildings. In nineteen-thirty four a man by the name of T.V. Pearson came up with the idea of Smokejumping for the fire service in 1934. He meant for it to provide a quick means of initial attack  by parachuting into a fire before it became too large, with the provisions to be self-sufficient for a minimum of forty eight hours with no outside resources or help. Even though the idea was proposed, it did not come into play until the mid-nineteen forty’s when two permanent air operations were set up, one in Winthrop, Washington and one in Ninemile camp, Montana; the first recorded jump was on July 12, 1940 into the Nez Pierce National Forrest. Soon after, the Montana air base moved to Missoula and the name change to the Missoula Smokejumper Base.
                The Mann Gulch fire incident was fought by an eighteen man crew out of the Missoula Smokejumpers base. The fire was discovered by a lookout by the name of James Harrison who was a fire prevention guard for Helena National Forrest. The fire was first spotted at 1225 hours on August 5, 1949. The area being very dry and dense, it consisted of a very mature fuel load of sixty to one hundred year old Ponderosa Pine mixed with fifteen to fifty year old Douglas Fir. The fuel load was very consistent. Because of the thickness and density of the fuels and the lack of accessibility to such a remote area, the Missoula Smokejumpers were called out.
                According to the crew foreman, R. Wagner Dodge, the jump was considered to be very regular, they flew over the fire doing some scouting and sizing up of the scene. The only thing that did not go according to plan is the supply drop into their landing zone. The cargo was scattered over a quarter mile, and the shoot for the crews radio did not deploy resulting in the radio breaking upon impact – which meant there was no communication with the outside world. Upon landing, the crew gathered all equipment and later that night R. Wagner Dodge met with the forest guard James Harrison to begin discussing tactics and the area where the fire was.
                When the actual attack began, winds were recorded from coming in from the north and east ranging from about six to eight miles per hour. At 1530 hours, the winds switched from north and east coming in from the south at about twenty four miles per hour and continued to blow at about the same speed for the remainder of the day. The topography of the area was mountainous, covered in ridges and canyons, the wind created a strong turbulence at the mouth of Mann Gulch which caused strong winds going towards the crews inside. (The way it was formed would be considered a chimney) As the day went on the crew was being led by one of its lead members. Dodge and Harrison were on top of the ridge scouting the fires behavior when they noticed the fire coming up the mouth of the canyon. At 1740 hours Dodge and Harrison took back control of the crew, they continued on the designated route they were on for about five minutes when they came to find the fire blocking their passage way out of the mouth of the canyon. Spot fires rapidly increased the area around them. Trees started crowning, gusts picked the fire up and started burning at a rate of around one hundred and twenty feet per minute. At 1735 hours the crew turned around to get out of the canyon, at 1735 hours they dropped their packs and tools and started making a run for it scattering in all directions, at 1755 hours the crew was all over the place, Foreman Dodge set an escape fire around himself and survived inside the burnt our zone. Crewmembers Sallee and Rumsey ran into a rock formation on the side of the mountain and survived inside of there. At about 1800 hours the rest of the crewmembers had perished from the fire.
                The events from above all happened in a very short time period. The crew had jumped at about 1610 hours, the scattered cargo had been gathered by about 1700 hours. At 1745 hours the crew had seen the fire coming towards them on the north slope when they turned to run. By around four minutes to 1800 hours the fire had swept over them. The time when the fire took over the men was determined by melted hands of a pocket watch found with Harrison frozen at 1756 hours by the intense heat. Studies estimate the fire covered over three-thousand acres in just ten minutes during the time of the blow-up, an hour and forty-five minutes after arrival, thirteen firefighters dies and three survived.
    Those that were killed by the fire.
    • Robert J. Bennett, age 22 from Paris, TN
    • Eldon E. Diettert, age 19 from Moscow, ID, died on his 19th birthday
    • James O. Harrison – Helena National Forest Fire Guard, age 20, Missoula, MT
    • William J. Hellman, age 24 from Kalispell, MT
    • Philip R. McVey, age 22 from Babb, MT
    • David R. Navon, age 28 from Modesto CA
    • Leonard L. Piper, age 23 from Blairsville, PA
    • Stanley J. Reba, from Brooklyn NY
    • Marvin L. Sherman, age 21 from Missoula, MT
    • Joseph B. Sylvia, age 24 from Plymouth MA
    • Henry J. Thol, age 19 from Kalispell MT
    • Newton R. Thompson, age 23 from Alhambra CA
    • Silas R. Thompson, age 21 from Charlotte NC

    Those that survived:
    •  R. Wagner (Wag) Dodge, Missoula SJ foreman, age 33, died 5 years later from Hodgkin ’s disease
    • Walter B. Rumsey, age 21 from Larned KA, Rumsey died in a plane crash in 1980 at 52 years old
    • Robert W. Sallee, age 17, Willow Creek MT (only surviving member today)

                    If you notice, none of the men were even familiar with the area they were in, the only crew member who knew the area was Marvin L. Sherman, after the incident 450 men fought for five more days to get the fire, which had spread over 4500 acres under control. Thirteen crosses were made to mark the locations where the thirteen smokejumpers died in Mann Gulch. Many lessons were learned from the Mann Gulch incident, it would have a great impact on how firefighters would be trained. Though, some of the lessons were forgotten and the tragedy of Mann Gulch would be repeated in the 1994 South Canyon Fire when fourteen firefighters died.
                    There are several lessons we can take from Mann Gulch, one we learn that fire spreads faster on slopes. Mann Gulch was about 75% incline, slope also made it difficult to run from the fire. We also learn that the crew had poor leadership, Dodge did not know most of the crew, and this led to them to not trusting their foreman. We learn how vital communication is to a crew; it could have possibly prevented the disaster or helped to get aid more quickly to the two men who died later.
                    Mann Gulch was a sad incident for the Wildland firefighting world; we lost good firefighters for bad reasons. Though, we had many lessons come from the fire, the beginning of the watch out situations, and firefighting orders came from this incident, fire shelters began to develop, and the safety of our firefighters became a more important priority.

    Managing Disasters through Public-Private Partnerships

    Book Review
    Managing Disasters through Public-Private Partnerships
    Author: Ami J. Abou-Bakr
    Review by: Jesse O’Rullian

    The Public and Private Value of Disaster-Oriented PPPS
    “The 9/11 Commision Report warns the American people: “the lessons of 9/11 for civilians and first responder can be stated simply: in the new age of terror, they-we-are the primary targets. The losses America suffered that day demonstrated both the gravity of the terrorist threat and the commensurate need to prepare ourselves to meet it.”
    Educating the community of potential threats is absolutely necessary to ensure that there is a proper and adequate response to the threats that are both naturally occurring or human induced.    
    “The 9/11 Commission Report says “the private sector controls 85 percent of the critical infrastructure in the nation. Indeed, unless a terrorist’s target is a military or other secure government facility, the ‘first’ responders will almost certainly be civilians.””
    For 85 percent of the critical infrastructure to be held by the private sector it seems absurd to not have the private sector more integrated with the government. Not only that but for a government agency like FEMA to demand for states, counties, and cities to integrate the private sector into their response plan--it seems hypocritical for the federal government not to do the same.

    Recurring Response Delays
    “While the government, and particularly the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), struggled to respond, private-sector corporations were, in many cases, the first responders, delivering food, water, blankets, and other vital necessities to those stranded.” 
    The US Chamber of Commerce reported: “Private-sector assistance during and following the major 2005 hurricanes- Katrina, Rita and Wilma--totaled about $1.2 billion, 25 percent of that in products and services, the remainder in cash contributions...At least 254 companies made cash or in-kind contributions of $1 million or more.”

    Role of Verizon during and after 9/11
    “When the south tower of the WTC collapsed on 9/11, all mobile phone capabilities were lost at Ground Zero. The restoration of mobile phone communication at ground zero was urgent--first responders needed mobile phones as backup for their failing radios, mobile phones could be used by survivors trapped in the rubble to call for help, and once restored, mobile-phone tracking devices could be used by rescuers to locate survivors. The mobile-phone network--the equipment, technology, and the capability to restore communication--rested in the private sector.”(Abou-Bakr, 2013)
    “Once wireless coverage was restored to Ground Zero, Verizon distributed more than five thousand cell phones to emergency workers. In addition, Verizon and other wireless providers began monitoring all cellular signals near the collapsed WTC site to locate survivors who may still have been trapped.”(Abou-Bakr, 2013)

    Walmart during and after Katrina
               “In the days immediately following the hurricane, there was a communication breakdown in the public sector at all levels of government, leaving the government overwhelmed. Disaster response agencies (FEMA in particular) were unprepared and slow to respond. In contrast, Walmart was prepared and rapidly reacted to the event. The ability of retailers such as Walmart to respond immediately while FEMA continued to scramble reinforced the sense that the private sector should be more formally integrated in disaster preparedness strategies because they may have an important role to play. Precisely how that role would play out, however, and whether the government would be able to use private sector capabilities to assist with the response remained to be seen. Susan Rosegrant argues,”Questions remained about whether the public sector could take full advantage of the retailer’s strengths and capabilities, and whether it was ready for Walmart and other agencies to carve out a new role for private--sector participation in a nation emergency.”(Abou-Bakr, 2013)
               The book goes on to talk about how Walmart was used as a staging area for responders and how it benefited both parties. The store is protected from looters and the responders are provided with areas to sleep, eat, work, gear up, and provided with the goods necessary to carry out their mission. “As a result of Katrina, Walmart shipped 2,498 trailers of emergency merchandise, gave $3.5 million in merchandise to shelters and command posts, and customers and associates (employees) donated more than $8.5 million to the relief effort.”(Abou-Bakr, 2013)
               With a response like this it makes me wonder why the government would be skeptical to engage the private sector in the relief efforts. If FEMA requires each city, county, and state to develop joint operations with the private sector in order to receive funds I think it would be a good idea for FEMA to practice what it preaches and be an example of how to integrate outside resources.

    The Historical Evolution of Policy and Organizational Frameworks
               PPPS started under President Clinton's administration in an attempt to nullify the terrorist threats.
    -Bombing of WTC in 1993
    -Federal Oklahoma City building in 1995
               Led to the forming of Presidential Decision Directive 39. While it remained classified it led to the formation of a cabinet level group that assessed the vulnerability of government assets.
    -Executive Order 13010 in 1996 caused for full time positions to be formed which assessed the critical infrastructure. The President's Commission on Critical Infrastructure Protection.
    EO13010 argues,” It is essential that the government and private sectors work together to develop a strategy for protecting (critical infrastructure) and ensuring their continued operation.”

    The President’s Commission on Critical Infrastructure Protection put out a report Critical Foundations, “defined critical infrastructure, differentiated vulnerabilities as either “cyber” or “physical,” and discussed at length the challenges of private-sector ownership of critical infrastructures.” The report goes on to state that “The critical infrastructures are central to our national defense and our economic power, and we must lay the foundations for their future security on a new form of operation between government and the private sector.

    Will these steps work?
             Political Leadership “of the US government's engagement with the threat of catastrophic terrorism between 1993 and 2006 illustrates both the foresight in identifying critical issues and the difficulty of sustaining focus and creating enduring programs, strategies and institution to face those challenges.”
    “Private sector preparedness is not a luxury; it is the cost of doing business in the post-9/11 world. It is ignored at a potential cost in lives, money and national security.
    The 9/11 Commission Report, 398

    Information Sharing
    “With a disaster-oriented PPP, this communication becomes complicated as both the government and the private sector have legitimate and significant barriers that limit their ability--and willingness--to share information with each other.”
    Granted there will be instances where security clearances will be needed but too often security clearances don’t transfer between government agencies. If the government has a hard enough time communicating with those who have the same mission and have sworn an oath--how much hard is it for the government to educate the citizens of what needs to be done. It is clear that this gap must be mended and made the focal point of efforts.

    Benefits for Both Parties
                World War I presented one example of of how it was beneficial for both parties to help with the war efforts. The economy at that time was experience a downturn thus allowing for the private sector to benefit as well enabling the government to excel in the war efforts.
                Businesses have found that it was in their best interest to help the government during disasters. By developing these public-private partnerships it has enabled all parties to benefit but none more than the victims.

    Abou-Bakr, A. (2013). Managing disasters through public-private partnerships. Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press.

    Lessons learned from a CNN correspondent's "war" stories

    Anderson Cooper
    Dispatches from the Edge
    Harper Collins, 2006
    Book Review by Thomas Riddle
    Before I became a first responder, I was stuck on a career treadmill of sales quotas, spreadsheets and paperwork. I labored and sweat for many years in one place as the track underneath my feet kept churning and spinning. I couldn't outrun my career stagnation. I found activities outside the office that were not associated with a paycheck to feed my desire to be challenged and spark my dormant adrenal gland.
    I became a “boot”, a new firefighter, at age 43 and my life transformed. Everyday I am challenged and feel a bit out of my comfort zone, the place I believe real learning and personal growth takes place. I’m back in school for the first time in many years; the last school paper I wrote was before I stepped onto the treadmill. I love the rush and satisfaction that my new career in the emergency services field gives me.
    The author of “Dispatches From The Edge” Anderson Cooper starts his book by describing the rush of reporting, as a CNN field correspondent, on tragedies and upheavals around the world and describes the personal toll those disasters have taken on him. From the tsunami in Sri Lanka, to the war in Iraq, to the starvation in Niger, and ultimately to Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans and Mississippi, the author gives us a firsthand glimpse of the devastation that takes place. He talks about memories of his childhood and career as a correspondent.
    I identified with the author, which motivated me to continue to read in spite of the assigned book report. “There’s nothing like that feeling. Your truck screeches to a halt you leap out, the camera resting on the space between your shoulder and neck. You run toward what everyone else is running from. All you want to do is get it, feel it, be in it.” (Cooper)
    Lessons Learned:  
    1.  The impact of Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome on those who respond to and those involved in tragedy.
    “When I had what I needed, I’d pull out. I thought I could get away unscathed, unchanged. The truth was I hadn't gotten out at all. It’s impossible to block out what your see, what you hear. Even if you stop listening, the pain gets inside, seeps through the cracks you can’t close up”(Cooper)
    “I set up barriers in my head, my heart, but the blood flows right through them. A corpse I see in Baghdad will remind me of a body back in Bosnia. Sometimes I can’t even remember where I was or why. I just remember the moment, the look, a sudden snap of a synapse, a blink of an eye, and I’m in another conflict, another year. Every war is different, every war the same.”(Cooper)
    “Here, In New Orleans, the compartmentalization I've always maintained has fallen apart, been worn down by the weight of emotion, the power of memory”. (Cooper)
    In addition to being a Heavy Rescue Technician for the Fire Department, I am also the Firefighter Director for our local union. One of my many responsibilities as a Union Board member is to represent our members through the disciplinary process and insure that their procedural rights are met. I believe that some of the lapses in judgment and poor decisions that firefighters make in their personal lives are symptoms of the effects of prolonged and constant exposure to tragedy.
    I never witnessed death before I became a firefighter. I had never held a toddler who clung to me after being found in a drug house alone for days, severely malnourished and terrified. I was unaware of those less fortunate living on the streets in the shadows of the city without love or support. I never witnessed large amounts of blood, brains, broken bones or broken lives before. I learned about the randomness of tragedy while trying to save a victim of a car accident who won’t ever make it home for family dinner again. When the adrenaline wears off after each response you are left with your own thoughts.
    We need to do all we can to help and heal those who serve. I have learned a great deal from this course, reading this book and from my attendance at the conference. I have met people who are involved in peer counseling and the state of Utah’s Post Traumatic Stress Debriefing Program. I have a renewed vigor to help those who serve, my partner and crew at Station 5, and my brothers and sisters on the department.
     2.    The resilience of the human spirit.
    “Our country was divided politically and along ethnic lines, and now we don’t think about divisions. When I do burials, when I visit the mortuaries, and I see all the bodies together, just the same, without any clothes, it shows whatever faith, whatever culture, the color, we are all human in the end.”(Cooper)
    “In disasters, in war, it isn't governments that help people, at least not early on. It’s individuals: policemen, doctors, strangers, people who stand up when others sit down. There were so many heroes in this storm, men and women who grabbed a bandage, an ax, a gun, and did what needed to be done.”(Cooper)
    “In the six days after Katrina, Coast Guard pilots out of Air Station New Orleans saved 6,471 lives, nearly twice as many as they’d saved here in the past fifty years combined.”(Cooper)
    Those of us who are involved in emergency services have a responsibility to help prevent the devastating effects of disasters in our communities. I believe there is no greater calling than to help our fellow man. America is indestructible, not because of our infrastructure, our vast resources or our form government. We are resilient and will survive future catastrophes because of the people who reside in this country. Our humanness is our greatest strength and defense.
    3.    The warning of not being prepared for disasters and not learning from our past mistakes.
    “Some twenty thousand people took refuge in the Superdome, told to come by the city’s mayor, who called it a shelter of last resort. He’d hoped that help would have arrived from state or federal government within two days. It didn't. Hope is not a plan.”(Cooper)
    “This is the only chance we get for a test run if something even more horrible happens or something as horrible happens with a nuclear device in this country. And we botched this one. We won’t get another chance to botch it again.”(Cooper)
    “ I notice a change. I see the number of TV stories about Katrina start to lessen. I can feel the viewers’ interest ebbing. As the floodwaters drop, the tide is slowly turning. I talk to friends on the phone but don’t have much to say. I want to yell at them, Don’t move on! Don’t go back to normal life, get caught up in the petty falseness you see on TV!”(Cooper)
    When recent tragedies become events of the recent past and fade from memory, we as first responders and emergency services personnel must do everything we can to remember the lessons learned from those incidents.
    In the book Dispatches From The Edge, Anderson Cooper offers an up-close view of the most harrowing crises of our time, and the profound impact they have had on his life and those affected by disasters. Few people have viewed more scenes of chaos and conflict around the world. Anderson Cooper’s groundbreaking coverage has changed the way we view world disasters.
    America was reminded again about the threat of homegrown terrorists when pressure cooker bombs exploded at the Boston Marathon and our collective awareness was heightened because of what was printed on the front page of the newspaper. We must stay vigilant and prepare for natural and man-made disasters in our communities, especially when things are quiet and tranquil. As history has shown us, it is not if it will happen, but when.
    Cooper, Anderson. (2006) Dispatches From The Edge: A memoir of war, disasters, and survival. New York: HarperCollins. 222 Pages.

    LONE SURVIVOR -- The eyewitness account of Operation Redwing and the lost heroes of SEAL team 10.

    Book Review By Chandler Godfrey

    Lone Survivor is by far one of the most impressive books I have ever read. I was instantly amazed in the life long dedication, desire, commitment, and sacrifice on behalf of Marcus Luttrell and all U.S Navy Seals – past, present, and further.  These men answer to a different call of life that very few will ever know and possibly understand.   A call that I feel only on my best day’s, I can only have a glimpse of understanding. Marcus’s account of the small, majestic brotherhood of SEALs, that is very romantic.  He portrays the path of himself and his brothers to become true warriors and the world’s finest combat weapon.

    It is important to recognize that I do not use the term warrior lightly.  Our great country has many amazing soldiers and operators.  These men and woman put their lives on the line and some have even laid them down for the better good of the United States of America.  Even though many have given this ultimate sacrifice, I would say only a select few ever reach the level of warriors such as Marcus portrays in a seal journey.  A journey that appears almost predestines.  A journey that almost seems impossible.

    Marcus’ story starts off by him recalling of being on a flight headed to an unforgettable mission.  During this flight Marcus explains how as a boy he started the long journey to end up on this unforgettable flight and becoming the US finest combat team ever, NAVY SEAL.

    Marcus started as a young boy in East Texas where he began training long before enlisting in the military at age 14.  A highly respected retired Green Beret Sergeant Billy Shelton took Marcus and other boys in the neighborhood on Saturday mornings and began training for the elite brotherhood that untimely led Marcus to the Navy SEALS.

    Marcus goes on to tell the long psychical and mental training that has an attrition rate of over 90% of the toughest solders that this country has to offer.  He takes you through the pain of hell week along with the non-stop abuse.  I found it very interesting that in the history of hell week.  Anyone who has dropped on request (DOR), is given a second chance to reconsider if that is truly what they want.  Some candidates reverse their decision and continue in the evaluation.  No one that has ever reversed his decision to stay has ever passed hell week.   They say a true SEAL does not waiver if it’s for him or not.  Most would rather die then to quit.   Marcus and his class of 226 later becoming the heights trained, most skilled combat professional that have ever been produced in the history of this world.

    The plane that Marcus and three other SEALs are now flying on arrive in a savage land where Operation Red Wing will soon take place.   The scene is set in the desert of Afghanistan were a Taliban leader has been targeted for capuche.  During the operation SEAL team 10 was ambushed killing Marcus entire team and only leaving him to defend for his life and evading capuche.  Marcus finds him self using all of his training to safe his own life while he takes refuge in a small village awaiting rescue from Army Rangers.

    I truly enjoyed reading this book.  As I read it, I felt the intensity, sadness, and heartache that Marcus endured.  The book if filled with many different styles of leadership and the influences this has had on Marcus life.  Note that I said leader and not manager.  This book never uses that term and never gives examples of managers, only leaders.  It becomes clear that a manager manages people and resources alike.  Where a leader leads people by inspiration and guides while manages recourse.  

    It is well explained what one must do to reach the unreachable.  Many leaders were part of Marcus life and played a major roll in his survival.  Marcus goes on to tell in different ways how he wished he hadn't survived.  How the rules of engagement affected the out come of SEAL team 10.  This book is an excellent read and teaching leadership, ethics, and courage – which are all traits of a good leader.

    Luttrell, M. (2007). Lone Survivor. New York: Little, Brown and Company. DOI: