As long as I can remember governments at all levels have had an emergency preparedness plan. I remember those early grammar school years when the nuclear war sirens would sound and we would all walk single file behind the teacher out of the classroom, down the stairs, down the long hall and line up against the wall. When I looked to my right and to my left, the wall was filled with every child from the school. As we were instructed to sit down “Indian style” we were also told to put our head down and cover our heads. The teachers all stood in their dresses and sensible pumps next to the the first student in line from her class. No teacher sat down, nor covered her head. I always thought they were going to die for it.
In later grades we were shown emergency preparedness films. From this we learned we could get fresh water from the toilet tank. The films showed everyone going to the local nuclear war shelter. Then came the local tours. They were all windowless basements filled with barrels of water and crates of food. A single bare light bulb hung from the ceiling of each room in the shelter. It was clear there wasn’t enough food, water, or bedding for the whole town, even to this grade schooler.
One day, as a young adult, I realized it was all hog wash. Yep. The government at all levels, had spend millions of dollars teaching people to run to a shelter where all would be taken care of for them. By the time I was 18 years old I knew the government, with all its good intentions, couldn’t really protect or help everyone. The knowledge that it was up to me to look out for myself, and the family I hoped to have, changed the way I thought.
All that has changed. Or has it? After looking at the civil preparedness plans of communities around the globe, it’s pretty much the same. The local government proudly announce on their web sites, on the radio, and on television that they have a plan. They try to reassure the public that they are prepared for almost every possible event, even a dirty bomb. While they offer words of comfort to citizens, they don’t tell people what events they are not prepared. The list… dirty bomb, check…. tornadoes, check…. blizzards, check…. earthquakes, check…. and so it goes. There are rumors that governments have begun implementing plans to protect certain things from possible EMP events and major solar events.
But, let’s face it. No public entity can truly prepare for a long term situation. What they want is for people to go about their lives in a confident manner believing there is a safety net in case it should all go south in a handbag. Believing that is like believing the kid in the desk next to yours really wants to do your homework.