Police, Fire, and EMT Personnel Should Be Preppers
I have nothing but great respect for police, firefighter, and emergency medical technician (EMT or paramedic) personnel, whether they are paid or local volunteers. Equally, I am grateful for the people who staff the prisons and work for state and federal law enforcement agencies. They stand on the front lines to deal with the most difficult situations our society faces on a daily basis. They do the work that I’m not able to do, and I’m grateful to them. We should all take a moment to extend our gratitude to police, fire and EMT people to serve our communities. A simple moment of gratitude can provide the incentive and motivation these people need to feel like human beings in their difficult jobs.
I’ll propose in this article the notion that I believe every police, fire, and EMT person should be survival preppers. And I’ll explain why throughout this article. For benefit of this discussion, I’ll group the police, fire, and EMT into the single term of “Community Response” personnel. Here is my rationale:
1. Community Response personnel see the worst that occurs in society. They respond and address the worst circumstances that occur to people and property. This requires that these people have strong mental capabilities to deal with trauma, violence, and death. Mentally and physically, it is difficult to respond to an automobile accident with deaths and then go home to their families unaffected by the event. Community Response personnel train to rush towards the danger when most of us would run away. For this reason, I have nothing but the greatest response for Community Service personnel. As a result, Community Response personnel have a front-line perspective on what harms and evil may befall a person. They see real risks and real disasters come to life on a regular basis. Since Community Response personnel recognize the risk that we all face, but deny unto ourselves, Community Response personnel know first-hand of the potential risks that they and their families’ should prepare for. They know that WROL is possible because they see WROL on a small-scale throughout the normal course of their duties. They see how crime, accidents, and disaster can destroy a family. Because they know the risks, they know better than anyone else that they should prepare their families for emergencies and disasters. They know the risks, see the risks, and live within the risks of disasters, emergencies, and survival — every day.
2. Community Response personnel are not highly paid, especially in proportion to the risks they encounter. No one becomes rich as an honest police person. No one enjoys a leisurely career, as a fireman. No one deal with more pain and suffering, than an EMT responder. These people have to do the hard, hard work that keeps our society together. I have often said, Community Service personnel put the “civil” in civilization. Because the pay scales are modest, as are many government-related jobs, it is absolutely necessary for Community Service personnel to live a frugal life, and spend every bit of money wisely. Being a survival prepper has a basis of being frugal, self-reliant, and cost-efficient. It makes total sense that the family of a police person has a garden. It makes total sense that a fire response person has stored water and food, in case of a disaster situation. It makes total sense that an EMT has its own backup storage of medical supplies and has its own self-defense weapons. The traits fit perfectly with being a survival prepper. It is especially important for the spouses of Community Response personnel to adopt frugal, self-reliant practices. Every partner of a Community Response personnel should learn how to do home canning, buy food at the local farmers market, and use coupons for shopping.
3. As Community Service personnel must be ready as any moment to leave the comfort of their home and family to rush towards an emergency or disaster event, it is imperative that the people have properly situated their home and families to overcome the same disasters. How can a fireman focus on responding to a large industrial explosion, if they are worried that their families are in danger from the same event? How can a police person respond to a riot or shooting, if they are worried about the safety of their spouse and children? How can an EMT respond to a mass outbreak of food poisoning or tainted water, if their family is exposed to the same risks? It is wise for a Community Service personnel to prepare their family well ahead of time. When their families are safe and comfortable, then Community Service personnel can better focus on their duties and help the people in need. Being a survival prepper better insures that Community Service personnel’s families are not the people in crisis during an emergency or disaster.
4. When an emergency or disaster occurs, Community Service personnel have no time to go shopping for needed supplies. If a blizzard rolls into town, Community Service personnel are out on the roads to rescue people in distress. They are called to duty at the earliest warning of some bad event. They typically don’t have time to run to the grocery store to stock up on milk, diapers, and toilet paper. They don’t have time to run to the drug stores to refill a prescription. They don’t have time to run to the gas station to refill the family’s personal vehicles. Rather, they are rushing toward the emergency. Especially in smaller towns with smaller sized staffs of emergency response personnel, Community Service personnel can be called away out of the shift to join those team members currently on the active shift. Therefore, Community Service personnel must have their homes well squared-away before the emergency, before the disaster. The whole concept of being a survival prepper is preparing for the risks of the future so that disasters only become an inconvenience, rather than a life stopping, life-altering event.
5. As states and cities continue to have extreme budget challenges, Community Response personnel will disproportionately impact by budget cuts and layoffs. Look at Detroit, which is about to declare bankruptcy. One-third of Detroit’s police have been laid-off. The remaining police likely have not seen a pay raise in years. By being a survival prepper, Community Response personnel can better handle the impact of a lost job or less pay. With one year of stored food at home, a Community Response person is not immediately put into a dire situation due to a layoff.
6. A primary concept of being a survival prepper is being self-reliant. If there is an economic collapse, more cities go bankrupt, the currency gets valued, a bank holiday is declared, or an austerity program is implemented to save the United States budget, the folks that depend on a government entity for their pension will be sadly impacted. If my pension was due to be provided by Illinois or California, I’d be scared witless at this point, since both of these states are near insolvency already.
General Advice for Community Service personnel:
1. Save some money outside of the government savings plan. While you’ll not be anywhere close to replacing your pension with personal savings, having some personal savings will allow you to overcome a difficult transition.
2. Attempt to produce some of your own food. This can be accomplished with a small garden, a hen-house, joining a local food co-op, home canning, and direct to farm food purchases.
3. Learn how to prepare and cook your own meals, rather than buy packaged food. Home-cooked meals are less expensive and downright healthier. When you must start eating from your stored foods, that is a time period where there will be no runs to a fast food joint. If you pay for your own lunches (or break meals, depend on what shift you work), bring a bag lunch instead. You can make a bag lunch for less money with better quality of food, then eating fast food.
4. Community Service personnel are very vulnerable to their histories. For the criminal or insane person that a Community Service personnel took off the street, those bad people of society might come back for revenge. While Community Service personnel are working their shift, their homes and families are as vulnerable as any other family, perhaps more. Therefore the spouses of Community Service personnel should own, train, and carry a firearm The spouses should obtain their concealed carry license, practice periodically with their firearms, and be very vigilant throughout the entire day. Buy and store your own firearms, which are not the service-issued weapons. In the event of a mass layoff or some strange new law, you may be forced to surrender your service weapons. If your community requires that you buy your own firearms, buy a 2nd of each. California now has a strange requirement that retired police must register or turn in their AR-15 carbines or rifles. I find California’s requirements for retired police to be utterly stupid. We trust our police for 30+ years during their career, then suddenly we don’t trust retired policemen (and policewomen)? I’d want a retired policeman living next to me, more than any other kind of person. My recommendation is that you buy the duplicate of your service weapons. This eases the training learning curve and maintenance duties. If you carry a Mini-14 as your service truck rifle, buy a spare Mini-14 as your personal rifle. The same goes for sidearm and shotguns. Own what you train with, and train with what you own.
5. EMT and Fire Fighters should personally own firearms. And obtain your concealed carry license. During a disaster, WROL events, criminals and utter idiots will take potshots at EMT and firefighters. During Hurricane Katrina and the Rodney King LA riots, EMT and firefighters were forced away from rescuing people, because they were being shot at. If a dire emergency or WROL situation, you will need your own firearms to protect your home and for traveling to/from your duties. Perhaps your local police and city authorities will permit you to carry a firearm during an extreme disaster, like Hurricane Katrina. Equally spouse/partners of EMT and firefighters should obtain their concealed carry license and own a firearm. As you are away from home conducting your duties, your spouse/partner will need to protect themselves, your children, and your home.
6. It is very much recommended that Community Response personnel store their own quantities of ammunition. Despite that the federal government is buying billions of rounds of ammunition, state and local police are struggling to find enough ammunition for training and practice. The massive price increases and supply shortages of ammunition are impacted state and local police now and today. I believe state and local government agencies should subsidize police with discounted ammunition. In the event of without-rule-of-law (WROL) or riot or Katrina-like event, state and local police will quickly run out of ammunition. During the Hurricane Katrina recovery, police had to take ammunition from sporting good stores and Wal-Mart, in part to prevent criminals from running amuck, but also due to shortages in police supplies of ammunition. When ammo was cheap in the Summer of 2011 and 2012, I was able to store some 40S&W ammo. My handguns take 9mm or 45ACP calibers and have no firearms that use 40S&W. I store 40S&W pistol ammunition with the specific intent of providing this ammunition to my hometown police in an emergency/disaster event. In an economic collapse scenario, ammunition is a store of value, and likely to be a form of currency. If you are a Community Response person, store your own ammunition. Whatever you are able to afford now is money saved later.
7. Recommend that every single (non-married) person have 6 months (or more) of stored food. Every family should have at least one year of stored food. And I advocate increasing your stored food up to 2 or 3 years of supplies. When your in-laws show up at your door, 2 years of stored food become 1 year of stored food with a big household Take a look at what happened during Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy. Take a look at what is happening today in Colorado with the wildfires. Look at the police and EMT layoffs in Detroit. Having a year’s store of food is your buffer to career transitions (i.e. layoffs) and for a disaster scenario. Let’s suppose you are a police person, firefighter, or EMT in a New Jersey coastal town during Hurricane Sandy. If you and your family did not have a store of food, how could you focus on the recovery efforts for your town?
8. Water is a key component of survival. You can go three weeks without food, but not 3 days without water. I recommend that every family store 3 weeks of drinking water, in the event of disasters. That is one gallon per person per day for cooking and drinking. Again, look at Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy. The public water sources were contaminated. Having your water squared away ahead of time allows your to focus on your duties, and not worry about your family.
9. It is very important for Community Response personnel to live in the “good” side of town. Often police will live in the same neighborhood, and this is a good thing. As person is on duty, the off-duty team members can watch over the neighborhood. It is also recommended that Community Response personnel connect and befriend their neighbors. Police people tend to be a bit aloft, due needing to be objective in their duties. I’d rather see a neighborhood rally around a police family, in a disaster/emergency situation, so that the police can focus on response and recovery efforts. During a disaster, emergency, WROL scenario, it is my intent to create meals for Community Response personnel’s families. It is the duty of good people to support the people who defend our communities.
10. Community Response personnel should make extra efforts to harden and protect their homes. Live in strong, resilient structures with smoke detectors, security alarms, and secured entries. Live in the quiet end of town. Live away from the stream, rivers, or the ocean to avoid flooding risks. Don’t live near industrial sites or power plants, which might be the source of a disaster itself. When on-duty, it is difficult to return home to watch over your own home. Since you are storing your own food, water, and ammunition, you need to be protected and perhaps hidden your supplies from thieves and looters.
11. Store extra fuel at your home. In a disaster event, you will be driving a lot. And gas stations can be not working, empty of fuel, or wrecked. Storing extra fuel allows you to not be trapped. If your duty has you traveling all day in a vehicle, I’d recommend that you store about 50 gallons at your home. You need to rotate fuel. Gasoline has a shelf-life of 2 years. Diesel fuel has a shelf-life of 5 years. And preserve the fuel with Sta-bil, PRI-D, or PRI-G. Your fuel will last longer if preserved. A key supply you should buy and store is empty fuel cans. In a disaster/emergency event, fuel cans disappear from store shelves faster than toilet paper.
12. I’d recommend that you drive a vehicle that uses the same fuel as your service vehicle. If you are a firefighter riding on a diesel fire fighting engine, then your personal vehicle should also use diesel fuel. Same for EMT’s, since many ambulances utilize diesel fuel. Police who drive a gasoline-powered engine while on duty should have their personal vehicle powered by gasoline as well. But using the same fuel on-duty and off-duty, there is the opportunity of sharing both ways. Many communities store emergency fuel for their service vehicles. In the event of a disaster, emergency situation, the community might give you fuel to travel to and from home. Or you might bring your stored fuel to your duty vehicle.
13. Carry a blow-out kit as part of your normal, everyday carry gear. As a community responder, it is likely you will be first upon an accident or crime scene, even when not on duty. Having a first aid kit with blood stoppers, battle bandage, and tourniquet allows you to immediately render aid. Look at what happened after the Boston bombings. Many lives were saved due to the quick administration of tourniquets.
14. Just as every survival prepper should do, have a bug-out bag ready always. In a disaster/emergency event, you might need to send your family away, while you work to recover your town. Your spouse/partner or children might be safer away from your hometown, while you conduct your duties. For example, after Hurricane Katrina, every family needed to evacuate. But those police who did show up for work were those that had their families squared away first.
15. Have a retreat plan for your family. Plan and discuss ahead of time where your family will go, if a disaster strikes your hometown. Again, by planning ahead, you can focus on the recovery of your home, instead of worrying about your family.
16. Have a set of code words that provide immediate directions to your spouse, partner, and children. In your official role, you may not be able to tell your family everything that you know. But having pre-discussed code words, you are able to communicate instruction to your family, without sharing official, secured information. Examples:
A. “I’ll be late for dinner tonight” => Go immediately to your mother’s home and stay there until I call you. It is not safe for you to be home now. Grab the kids, the bug-out bag, and leave now.
B. “How much milk do we have?” => Run to the grocery store immediately and stock up on food, water, diapers, and toilet paper. A disaster is about to occur in our town, and you need to get ready. Also, fill up the vehicle with fuel and fill up a spare fuel can.
C. “Let’s plan for a fun weekend” => Go retrieve all the children from school or events, and hunker down at home until further notice. There is a danger in the community that I can’t explain at this moment.
D. “Don’t wait up for me tonight” => I am worried about your security. Have your firearm ready. Don’t go to sleep until I am home. Bad people are traveling throughout their hometown.
E. “It has been a long day. Looking forward to coming home soon.” => My duties are will keep me on the job pass my shift, due to an emergency. Don’t worry about me. I’ll call you once I know when I can come home.
F. “I love you.” => This is not a code word. Just slipping in a different message. The divorce rate for Community Responders is very high. Due to stress, odd working hours, and being away from home for long periods of time, Community Responders are very vulnerable to distractions, temptations, and the accumulation of pent-up anger. Marriage is good for health, good for survival, good for longevity. Divorce is bad for health and longevity. Take the extra time and make the extra effort to be sensitive to your partner. Say “sorry” and “I love you” even when sometimes you don’t feel like saying it. Give yourself a buffer time when you come off duty to decompress, and become a civilian before you come home. Or make a plan with your partner to give you 30 minutes or an hour to decompress when you arrive home. Make an extra effort to stay away from alcohol, which is nearly always damaging to relationships. Don’t de-stress with alcohol. Alcohol will only numb your feeling, not help you resolve the trauma and stress that naturally comes from your duties. Spent the extra time on your mental help, so that your family health is also improved. Don’t be ashamed to recognize that you are carrying stress, anger, or PTSD. Let your family, church, community and workplace resources help you.
G. No doubt you will think of more codeword scenarios, which will allow you to alert and warn your family. These code words can be communicated via phone, text message, email, Facebook posting, twitter message, etc. Your instructions and warning can be communicated in a secure manner, without sharing your warnings to bad people.
Please don’t mistake the concept of being a survival prepper with being an extremist. I consider myself to be a modestly skilled survival prepper. And I am a patriot. I love the United States. I salute the flag, sing the national anthem, and say the pledge of allegiance. I teach my children to appreciate and be grateful for living in the United States of America. I am a strong supporter of local police and community policing. I hate getting a speeding ticket as much as anyone else, but I respect the difficult work being conducted by police, firefighters, and EMT personnel. I’ll be the first in line to share my survival supplies with my hometown emergency response personnel. Anti-government, anarchist, and extremists might be a survival prepper. But the vast majority of survival preppers support the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights. The vast majority support the rule of law. The vast majority of survival preppers obey the law, vote, and pay their taxes.
While I consider myself to be a Minuteman, within the historical context, I am not a militia member. In the event that my hometown breaks down into WROL, my plan is to join and support the local police to reestablish lawful order. Recognize there are good and bad militias. I’m against the militias that are anti-government. This doesn’t mean I like everything about the United States. I am frustrated with high taxes, government budget deficits, and welfare to able-bodied adults. But I work within the laws. The United States is the greatest force of freedom and liberty that the world has ever known. Without the presence of the United States, Europe and Asia would be dominated and controlled by Fascism or Communism. I love and support the United States because I love freedom and liberty. And I admire and respect the people who sacrifice their careers and absorb the risks necessary to defend freedom, support liberty and enforce the rule of law.
This advice is relevant for federal law enforcement personnel, forest firefighters, prison guards, and border patrol agents. If you carry a gun, nightstick, walkie-talkie, shovel, or medic bag for a local government, state government or federal agency, you would equally benefit from these concepts.
Police, fire, and EMT personnel are natural candidates to become survival preppers. And I welcome them into the survival prepper culture and community. You, your family, and your community will benefit from being a survival prepper. And thank you again for the duties you provide to your community. You are the best kind of people.