A Civil Defense Corps for the 21st Century
By: Tom Chatham
Large scale disasters happen all over the world on a regular basis. In the U.S., agencies such as FEMA are tasked with providing relief for stricken communities when disaster strikes. This is a blessing and a curse. It is good to have a centralized agency that has the resources at hand to immediately react to disasters to help, but the larger the mandate is, the less effective the relief will be.
During the days of the cold war, local civil defense teams were the norm to help communities to stabilize and recover after a catastrophic disaster such as nuclear war. This placed the resources and manpower to help the community at the disaster location and provided an immediate response to any disaster. Resources and manpower would not have to be shipped to the location from somewhere else before recovery operations could begin.
This almost entirely eliminated the 72 hour period when people would be on their own before they could expect help. A civil defense unit provides the means for a community to help itself. With resources and manpower utilized at the community level, it also provided more personalized help for individuals than the current system which is geared to help people in mass.
The current system is not able to respond properly to catastrophic situations as has been proven in the past decade. It is a bloated bureaucracy that siphons money and resources away from more productive systems. In the event of a disaster of national scale, it would be almost powerless to help the average citizen. In that event, FEMA would almost exclusively render aid to government agencies and personnel. Because of this, it is not realistic for the average citizen to expect government help after a regional or national event.
This is the primary reason a community civil defense unit will be needed in the future if and when things go terribly wrong on a national scale. This type of unit should be made up of volunteers with a diverse set of skills. Every unit should be set up to handle 200 to 500 individuals for at least two weeks. Supplies should be acquired at the local level by donations and direct purchase by members. A standardized SOP should be written and utilized by CD units.
Why would you want to utilize a CD unit rather than small groups of preppers? Even a well stocked prepper community can find itself in distress. The destruction from Katrina, Sandy and at Joplin shows that large sections of housing can be flooded or completely wiped away along with everything inside. In this event, a prepper would be lucky to survive much less with all of their supplies in tact. When this happens, it is good to have a well stocked CD unit, situated in a sheltered area away from the immediate destruction. A well planned unit can determine what dangers they may face and utilize a safe area for storage of supplies. With all of the recent flooding in Colorado, a CD unit with storage on high ground would have been very helpful to victims during and immediately following the flooding there.
A community based CD unit will need certain capabilities.
– Potable water supplies
– Food stores and cooking capabilities
– Temporary housing and work space
– Sanitation and hygiene facilities
– Communications (ham operators)
– Medical services
– Search and rescue capabilities
– Security capabilities
– Clothing supplies
The four primary capabilities needed are food, water, shelter and medical support. These are the primary things the population will need short term to start recovery within the community. Food can be donated by local individuals to help provide an emergency supply of food. Bulk foods that are inexpensive and store well like beans, rice, cornmeal, oatmeal and powdered milk can provide a basic meal to those in need. Basic cooking supplies and wood stoves offer an inexpensive source for cooking. Shelter can be as simple as a hoophouse used for plants or large tents. Portable garage enclosures now sold can provide a good shelter at reasonable expense. Basic medical supplies can be stocked fairly cheap to allow the most basic care until victims can be transported to better medical facilities. Community involvement is vital to provide the resources and donations needed to make this type of system work.
Starting small and building up assets is a multi year project but can reap huge benefits over time. One of the biggest problems now is the governments’ opposition to individual self help where government wants total control. This opposition will likely decrease with time as the government looses the ability to respond to emergencies. A local CD unit should make every effort to keep government at all levels out of the planning and response phases due to the fact that government creep will eventually seek to take control of the operations for political and control reasons. That does not mean the CD unit cannot coordinate emergency operations with local officials.
This type of citizen led unit fits well with the institution of a local citizen militia. The CD unit can provide support to the militia when security issues warrant and the militia can provide manpower to the CD unit during disaster response. This would be similar to breaking military units into support elements and combat elements.
With the economy collapsing little by little, the government will slowly lose the ability to respond to disasters around the country. As that happens, the civilian population will need a backup plan to care for themselves. It is a certainty that disasters will continue and government will become less effective as time goes on. In the future, help will come from within the communities more so that from outside so now is a time to plan for that eventuality.