The need to help

When a disaster like this bridge collapse happens, I get this almost overwhelming urge to rush in and help. I want to pull people from the rubble, get them something to drink, patch a couple of wounds, and get them reunited with their loved ones. And I want to do it right now.

I was all set to drive down to Minneapolis last night and help with communications via my 2m radio in the car, but the cops and EMS people on the scene were telling folks to stay clear and let them do their jobs. So I got on the local ham radio linked repeater system asking for info about a ham response to this disaster, but no one answered my calls, which (probably) means no one had any information for me.

Since it doesn’t look like there’s any good way for me (and the rest of us who have the same kinds of urges) to help in the immediate aftermath of this disaster, I’ve done the next best thing: I’m getting ready for the next one. I’ve sent an e-mail to my local Red Cross chapter (find your local Red Cross chapter) outlining my basic abilities and asking how I can help. I’m hoping to get training in disaster communications from them so that I can be useful in a confusing situation like that. I’m going to get hold of the county emergency government coordinator this morning and schedule a meeting to talk about ham radio in local disasters; apparently there’s currently no volunteer emergency coordinator for either Ashland or Bayfield counties. I sure don’t have a lot of experience on the radio or in planning county-wide emergency responses, but I can learn, yeah?

I’m going to prepare my family, too. I’m going to re-up my first-aid and CPR certifications (which aren’t particularly lapsed, by the way), and I hope The Wife will come with me (hint, hint). I’m going to work with The Wife to make a disaster plan for our family for everything from local “inconveniences” to major regional disaster. We’ll put together a comprehensive, compact first-aid kit for the house, and a crash kit for each car.

And that’s a pretty decent start, I think. What will you do?

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