Do Chasers Have A Role in Post-Storm Response?

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By Scott Roberts

As a former EMT, along with being a CERT-trained volunteer, I have the opportunity to assist others in the moments after a disaster. But one of the mantras of CERT is that we don’t self-deploy. If the professional responders are at the scene, there is no reason for me to go in until asked.

Untrained Volunteers May Do Harm as Well as Good During Disasters, Johns Hopkins Study Finds –


However, if I’m in a community minutes after it is hit, I have the training and the equipment to do some very specific tasks. These logistic and communication tasks include:

  • a 360-degree windshield survey
  • reporting what I see, via amateur radio (and my Private EM/Public Safety live stream if possible).
  • Trying to place myself in a visible location, yet one that will not impede the professionals. This is so I can give the injured and walking wounded a place to gather until the pros can get a formal system setup.
  • Begin communicating with victims, giving those that can help themself the information they need to do that effectively. This is an early way to figure out who is missing, too.
  • Start an effort to quickly triage the injured, communicating the results of the quick survey via amateur radio ASAP.
  • Keep a log of what I do.

Pretty much anywhere in Kansas, I expect I won’t make it all the way through that list. That’s why the unlisted, but always-there, step is “be ready at any time to abandon my effort because the professional responders have arrived.” At that time, I plan to leave unless asked to stay. I expect my usefulness is likely to last half an hour to two hours, tops.

Do chasers have a role in post-storm response? Yes, in limited circumstances.

  1. The chaser is already inside a reasonable perimeter of the damage.
  2. The chaser performs a role for which they are trained and have the appropriate equipment.
  3. The chaser is ready to abandon efforts before they get in the way of the professional response.

This probably applies to 5-10 chasers on any given event. Here’s a good guideline…if you see red or blue lights in front of you, also heading toward the incident, you should not go any further. That’s the guideline I follow.

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