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.
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.
- The chaser is already inside a reasonable perimeter of the damage.
- The chaser performs a role for which they are trained and have the appropriate equipment.
- 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.