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William Harvey

William Harvey

William "Bill" Harvey is currently serving as chief of police in south central Pennsylvania. He retired from the Savannah (Ga.) Police Department where he worked assignments in training, patrol, and CID. Harvey has more than 25 years of experience working with recruits, rookies, and FTOs.

Training Your Other Backup

Have you trained your loved ones to handle an emergency, if you're not there to protect them?

March 21, 2011  |  by William Harvey - Also by this author

Photo: (NKPhillips).

We've all heard the maxim that the plumber's pipes are always leaky. The same can be true for some of the top police trainers and tacticians. They're always prepared, but if I ask about their home I hear only silence. Most have plans, others have equipped their family. Many focus on the operation rather than the home front. If you're there, they are protected, but can they fend for themselves?

When I worked the southeast coast, hurricanes were the admission fee for having the beach so close by — sooner or later, you pay the piper. I don't care where you live; each of us has weather and other natural events that require evacuation.

Do you have a "bug out" plan for your significant other? What are they going to take to support themselves while they are gone? What's the plan of action? Some have tornados, other have hurricanes, and yet others experience blizzards. Know your environment, and go over plans. Train and plan for your family. Often, telephone and some cell lines can be overcome or systems become compromised. Have a signal of safe arrival; this call may only last a second. Try texting, for it goes over a different line altogether and may work when others do not. Have a secondary method to charge your cell phone, auto, or external battery pack.

Do you have adequate supplies at the residence to make it through several days of no shopping or electricity? I always suggest canned foods or even MREs (Meals Ready to Eat), bottled water, and energy bars. As I was told in the Army, "It's not what you eat, but rather that you eat."

Do you have cash? ATMs go down in bad weather and a good run could deplete them. How about a "bug out" bag for the family? If you only had time to grab the family and one thing, this is it.

One thing I'm big on are these big plastic tubs with locking lids; you can find them at most any home improvement store. These are the ultimate family bug-out invention. Get a few that will fit in the back of the family vehicle. During weather seasons where bugging out is a possibility, have them pre-packed in advance. Pack one with "needful things." Have a second tub for extra clothes and comfort items; remember, this is a two-minute warning drill here. These are to be grabbed and gone with the family. There's no time for packing.

I know you thought that when you came on the job that you would be cared for by the department. Yes, but not solely. Some departments have plans and shelters for families of first responders. What I recommend is a family drill. Have them prepare to evacuate in two hours or less; this is an adequate warning for some accidental events.

Plan the route of travel and have a secondary route planned as well. The destination may be the home of family that's out of the area; what happens if they too are having a storm? I've always said have a Plan A and a Plan B ready, and never discount the possibility of a Plan C.

This need not frighten the wee ones or the pets. Explain it and practice as a family. Make it an event. Make it a game to ease their anxiety. Kids will adapt if there is a familiarity to this event. Practice and take a family road trip.

We're used to planning for the citizens we protect. It's crucial to also plan on protecting your loved ones, because they are your lifeline.

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