Something I’ve been interested for a while now is making order out of chaos. I’ve spoken to friends of mine who have been in combat – one a former Navy Seal Medic, and also emergency responders as well as two former homicide detectives. I’ve been working on combining the tips and tricks of what these seasoned professionals do when they are first faced with a traumatic chaotic event. What is the order of how to make sense of things when the shit has hit the fan and how to apply those steps to an event a civilian may face when an earthquake or other natural disaster has hit.
Most of the time the training these people have received is specific and tailored to their specific jobs – there were clear steps each would take. All be it these steps varied widely depending on the scenario there seemed to be a common thread among all of their methods. Each would peel one layer of the onion away at a time. None of them would take a knife an cut to the center. They all made it clear individual steps had to be taken – skipping steps caused harm to either oneself or the injured person or the chain of custody. Skipping steps caused either harm or death of a fellow team mate or bystanders.
The take away from all these conversations was the following:
- Stabilize the Environment – Make sure the structure is safe or stable enough to allow entry. Whether it be an Earthquake or a firefight, the structure you are entering must be taken in phases. Take it in small steps, get through the front door and analyze the threat. Either move on or stabilize this part of the structure then figure out if you can proceed. There are an incredible amount of variables but if you think about each step being a series of ‘Go’ / ‘No Go’ questions you will be able to make progress and get to the injured or the problem. Fools rush in.
- Stabilize any medical needs – Think about the ABC’s. I’ve written previously about the need to change this term to the CAB – Circulation, Airway, Breathing. Especially in a disaster situation bleeding will kill in 30 seconds so stabilizing a bleeding victim is priority one. Tend to the injured ASAP and get them out to a safe location.
- Secure the perimeter – Make sure you get everyone including the non injured to a safe place. Look for faults in structure, downed power lines, vulnerable lines of attack. Turn off utilities – power, gas, water. Again, this area is vast with it’s variables depending on what the specific situation is. If the event was large enough it could be several days or weeks till things begin to normalize so you must know your environment and what it will take to live within it and survive. If you are in a cold climate what will your plan be to keep people warm and sheltered through the night? Knowing in advance how to deal with these things will help you if and when an event happens. Along with securing your perimeter is checking on your neighbors. Are their elderly in the area who might need help? Is the neighbor down the street who always thought prepping was a waste of time hurt or displaced? Unfortunately, no matter how much you’d like to let them realize the hard way they were wrong and you were right – helping them now is the most important thing for securing your perimeter. Happy neighbors along your perimeter will create a buffer zone aid in keeping riff raff at a distance.
- Establish Communications – What are the ways you can communicate? Do you have your HAM radio? Cel phone? Painting SOS on your roof? What ever the lines of communication are, the sooner you can get them up the better. Sending and receiving intel about the event will allow professionals and other members of your family and community to assess the situation enabling them to send assets to the correct location.
- Recover Data – When the situation has stabilized recover data. If it is your home try to recover legal papers, pictures, computers, insurance policies. Hopefully you have organized these in advance and you know exactly where they are so even in rubble you should be able to locate the rough geography in the structure of where they should be.
Many of the people I spoke with had mission specific things they would do, but in the end the common thread which applies to civilians faced with a disaster was those steps. Many times in military or law enforcement situations these people would establish communications ASAP, but for a civilian tending to the injured will become a priority.
If you are new to this series here is the link to Chapter 1 Part I.
Chapter 7, part III and the beginning of Chapter 8
“You good?” I yell to Tinker Bell.
“Yeah, go. I got this.” I hit her on the shoulder and run back to the bug.
Seeing the VW bumper wedged under the front bumper of the Ford Taurus I know Tyler is in need of help. Trying to get it to pop out from under the Taurus’ bumper Tyler doesn’t have enough weight on his own. Climbing on to the rear bumper I see the crowd is growing exponentially.
“Okay, lets do this, ready? One, two, three!” Starting to hop up and down we jump in unison. On the fifth jump the Bug’s tires grab. Swerving to not hit Tinker Bell Mack veers the Bug left causing both Tyler and I to fall off the rear bumper. “God damn it!” I yelp. Landing I feel my back give and a shockwave of pain runs through my pelvis. Getting to my feet I begin to fire again limping up to the VW. By this time Tyler and Mack are also firing.
“What do we do now?” Mack yelled.
Looking towards the cruise ship I can see Decker Canyon is pretty open.
“Get the bug turned around. We’ve go to make a break for that route going through the mountains, we can double back to the base on the other side of the pass.” It’s getting so loud from the moaning over the roar of the ocean waves making me yell at the top of my lungs. Running over several bodies, Mack negotiates the cars and debris in the road. The VW lurches and it’s tires spin creating a mini smoke screen for us in the middle of the road. Selecting targets as fast as I can I see thousands pouring out of the cruise ship and emptying onto the sand.
To my right I see a Zombie flanking Tinker Bell and approaching her on her six. I can’t take the shot, I haven’t had enough trigger time to risk hitting her or the having the round pass through the Zombie and hitting her. I sling my carbine to the side and reach over my shoulder to grab the tomahawk. My back screams at me with a pain shooting so powerful I almost drop to the ground. Exhaling I try to close the distance as fast as I can. Catching up I send the blade of the tomahawk into the back of the Zombies head with such force it decapitates the Zombie leaving half it’s skull and lower jaw still attached to it’s body.
Turning Tinker Bell sees me over the top of the Zombie as it falls. “Thanks, we gotta move, there’s too many of them.”
“Get to the Bug.”
A Zombie trips and falls towards me. As his momentum carries him forward I time it and swing down planting the tomahawk into the back of his head making him face plant on the asphalt. With the thud his putrified brain splatters across PCH. I turn and see a big one coming at me mouth open, moaning loudly. I front kick him in the pelvis and he stumbles backwards into several other Zombies.
I’m running forward at a slow rate of speed because of the pain in my back, really just limping and breathing in short gasping painful breaths. Getting to the car I see them all inside slowly rolling the Bug forward keeping it’s momentum with the passenger door open ready for me to jump in. Hanging out the drivers window Tyler is shooting at the Zombies coming up behind me. Struggling to limp faster I finally make it to the Bug and fall into the passenger seat. With the door still open I’m able to shoot taking out a couple more of them at point blank range as Mack floors it.
Slumping back in the seat it’s too much effort to even reach for the door so I let the momentum of the Bug close the door. Resting the carbine on the door frame I take out any Zombies passing close by. With a couple of evasive maneuvers Mack makes the turn up Decker Canyon into the mountains of Santa Monica. “I think we need to figure out how to make this car a little more tactical.” I say as the Bug hits a bump making me wince in pain.
“Aw fuck.” Tyler said.
“Did you get bit?” Tinker Bell says looking down.
“I don’t think so.” Tyler takes a beat then realizes what must have happened. “No I’m good. It was when Mack got the bug to pull away from the car, I slid off the bumper and must’ve caught my leg on the Bug’s bumper.”
Pulling up his pant leg he has a four inch gash on the outside of his right calf. The metal bumper must have snuck up inside his BDU’s and just sliced him open. Everything happened so quick I bet he didn’t feel it at the time.
“In the med kit there’s an H bandage, do you know how to use it?” I said to Tinker Bell.
“Yeah, just make sure there’s no other Zombies up ahead.” I nod while she goes to work. Looking ahead it’s actually pretty serene and picturesque. The bug continues to work it’s way up the grade sputtering along. Turning in the seat and getting to my knees I hang my torso out the window. If feels good to lean forward and stretch the muscles around my pelvis. Looking back I see a swarm of slow moving Zombies following the sound of our engine. The Bug hit a pothole and it immediately reminds me not to try to do yoga in the front seat.
“They’re following the sound of the Bug.” I say to Mack. Turning on the switchback we can see the water below then see just how many there are.
“Holy shit!, it looks like a swarm from up here.” Mack was driving slowly but steady looking over the edge of the road. Coming back around on a switchback to the mountain side we see a traffic jam ahead and have to come to a complete stop. Mack lets the bug idle and sets the E brake. “Fuck, we’re going to have to push some of these out of the way.”
If you are new to this series here is the link to Chapter 1 Part I.
Chapter 7, Part II
I let that sit. Not really sure what had been happening in Malibu. Maybe a fund raiser. When the EMP hit it wasn’t the right time of year for an Oscar party. Walking on the beach is a steady stream of them walking North towards the base. It’s like a line of ants following a trail looking for food. The highway is raised here and the sea wall is keeping them below on the sand. Within five minutes drive I see a huge white structure jutting out from the mountains.
“I think that’s our answer. Where are we?”
“What is it? We’re about 15 clicks from the base.” Mack says.
“It’s a cruise ship.” Tinker Bell says leaning forward.
“That’s an Oasis class cruise ship, there’s like 6,000 passengers and 2,000 crew.” Mack says.
Tinker Bell stares at him.
Mack is now on the defense. “What? I wanted to work on a cruise line after my stint in the Navy.”
“Yeah, you’d be a real ‘Vicki the Cruise Director’.” Tinker Bell couldn’t pass up the opportunity to twist the ever present knife she has planted in Mack’s ribs.
“I would’ve rather been a Purser, so ‘Gopher’ would’ve been more appropriate.”
Leaning forward, “You’re not helping yourself.” I say. Tyler almost does a spit take after hearing that one.
Turning the bend reveals a cove where Decker Canyon splits off PCH heading North. Listing to its side in the cove is a huge cruise ship against the rocks slowly being ripped apart with each wave. It’s immense. Must be three football fields long and the hull is as tall as a ten story building. Looking as if there are ants around the base of the ship the undead are falling from the decks above. Some are landing in the water and some on the sand with thuds or splashes. Some are either unfortunate or fortunate depending on the way you look at it and are landing between the rocks and the hull. It looks like a cheese grater of human flesh. The ocean is red with blood and guts.
“Sharks.” I say pointing just off the shore. It’s a feeding frenzy. Fighting over those who’ve fell into the water. Body parts are floating out to sea from being ripped apart in the cheese grater. Almost at once like a wave the stench hits us. Death is everywhere and it’s overpowering the refreshing smell of salt air.
“We better get back.” Mack offers while turing the bug around and dodging several cars. After successfully negotiating the u turn he speeds off making it back to the bend in the road. “Fuck!” He yells.
“Oh shit.” Tinker Bell lets out. “Contact Front!” As Mack slams on the brakes forcing the Bug into an endo. Tinker Bell hangs her body out the passenger window in one swift motion while beginning to fire. Zombies from the beach found a staircase up to PCH following the sound of the Bug. Tinker Bell automatically begins firing, selecting targets quickly and dropping them.
Creating distance, Mack slams the Bug in reverse abruptly smashing us into a Ford Taurus, stopping us instantly and sending Tinker Bell to the rear of the window opening.
Mack throws the car into drive gunning the gas with Tinker Bell still half out of the window. Tires spinning, our bumper now jammed into the grill of the car behind us prevents any forward motion. Throwing open the door Tinker Bell is out engaging our pursuers. Pushing the seat forward I get out to help stem the flow. I feel Tyler hop out behind me hot on my heels.
Leaning in I shout to Mack over the sound of suppressed fire. “Get this thing able to roll and we’ll hold them off.” I wish I had the time to wrap a bandana over my mouth and nose, I’m ready to vomit from the smell of rotting flesh. Some of the Moaners fresh out of the water have clothes dripping wet and chunks of flesh are dropping off their bones either from the time spent in the water or sharks who pulled meat off their bodies. Some are walking with entrails dragging on the ground and others are walking lop sided from legs now at different lengths.
“Cover!” Tinker Bell yells while instinctively kneeling to reload. Hearing that I spin and begin to engage the Zombies as they move forward on us while she reloads.
“Up!” She yells. Standing over her with my leg touching her back I reach down and squeeze her shoulder giving her the signal it is okay for her to rise.
“Come Up!” I yell raising the muzzle of my carbine. With my hand on her shoulder I step aside as she rises and let her take her position again. The tires squeal. “Tyler, see if you can kick the bumper loose.” Zombies are approaching, looking like a tide of ants coming closer every second. The small crowd approaching seem to have turned into hundreds within seconds. Even with the ones we’re hitting going down, they are being replaced by a steady stream and soon there will easily be a thousand. “Fuck, do this many people really go on cruises?”
“I don’t know but I liked that blue dress.” Tinker Bell commenting as she put a round through a female Zombies’ head. Like little red fountains Moaners heads are exploding, popping like watermelons hit with a sledge hammer, but some how through it all Tinker Bell seems to keep her sarcastic sense of humor.
“Cover!” I yell and crouch down to change magazines. I pull out the dry one and insert a new one hitting my ping pong paddle to send another round into the chamber. “UP!” I yell. White smoke begins to drift forward engulfing our position from the tire spinning.
“Come Up!” Tinker Bell yells while squeezing my shoulder. She’s an excellent shot acquiring targets and taking them out quickly. Like the beat of a drum one after another. Taking down several more I turn back to Tyler.
“Give me a hand!” Tyler is yelling while jumping up and down on the bumper as Mack is trying to use the power of the little VW engine to pull away.