Preparedness Corner
July 2002
By Paul Vircsik

Hi Neighbors,

I just returned from our fair ranch accomplishing more than expected.  I got to visit with many of you at several meetings and made new friends as well.  We missed the fires as rain fell the day before we arrived.  The air was only filled with drift smoke on our last day but on the drive back through New Mexico and Arizona, the skies were full of the orangy brown stuff.  While here, we saw that the animals were out, the males in velvet if equipped, and none seemed bothered by the events that befell the ranch earlier in June.  I have seen forest fires in real life and on television where the animals don’t panic and run as long as they can move ahead or to the side at their own pace.  All the while still munching on grasses as they go.  This brings me to this month’s subject, planning with out panic.

There is a sense of panic with some about our ability to get off the ranch during an emergency evacuation.  This panic includes exit 2 since it is normally locked and other ways down the “hill”.  This sense does not need to exist.  Mostly due to planning and also due to preparedness.  I think I have heard that word before, hmmm.

At the last Emergency Services meeting we discussed exit 2, other means of egress and I have had discussions with neighbors regarding our southern border.  There are plans in place for getting everyone off the ranch during an evacuation.  However, here is the rub.  You have to follow directions.  In the emergency plan, everyone reports to someone.  There are systems in place.  If the ranch is under attack from fire, flood, or mad cow diseased car jackers, there are procedures that everyone on the ranch should follow.  Calling or being called by your area leader, following the directions from the emergency services committee or the Incident Command System in place at the time of the event helps get the information assimilated down to everyone.

Remember, emergencies are dynamic, especially fire.  A set plan with no contingencies does not work in dynamic events.  That is why on huge fires the entire Incident Action Plan is redone every 12 hours.  So, plans change and until the need arises, an open plan is in place.  To call on the board and demand a set in stone plan will only cause problems when the fire heads for your departure gate.  In a true emergency, evacuating the ranch to the highway may not happen.  You may be asked to move to a large meadow, the north or south end, or just be protected in place.

Now for the preparedness part.  Yes defensible space works, and yes we have had horrendous winds with the recent fires that makes defensible space less effective.  I said less, not useless.  It still is better than nothing and less heat that can be taken by structures giving you protection is always better than nothing.  Preparing your home and yourself for any eminent disaster and practicing the “preparing to leave part” is important for ingraining information into your noggin.  When the time comes to doing, at least you will have a base to work from.  That is why they call it planning.  It combats panic.

Listen to your area leaders, check with them during surrounding emergencies to remain updated, prepare for the worst, and practice what the people in the know want you to do.  Have a safe summer and I will see you in the fall.  If you have questions, you know how to reach me.

See you all soon,

Meet the author: Read about Paul Vircsik's background