How To Prepare for Disasters. Emergency Healthcare and Rescue Tips.

I just finished up my National Ski Patrol refresher over the weekend. This is the 12th year I’ll be volunteering as a patroller at Mount Snow Vermont. For those of you that don’t know what ski patrol is or what we do, you can think of it as an EMT on skis or in my case a snowboard that is primarily responsible for the immediate response, rescue, stabilization, and transport of a patient off of the mountain and to a primary care resource such as a doctor or hospital.

Hurricane Sandy has made everyone aware of the importance of good preparedness and immediate rescue in emergency situations. With that in mind, I wanted to share a few tips that you could use in times of an emergency.

Hands-Only CPR. In times of an emergency or a disaster, it is likely that people around you may go into shock. This could happen for a number of reasons but the result is that a person may experience low blood pressure, a rapid heartbeat, or poor diffusion which means organ’s aren’t getting the appropriate blood and oxygen levels. These issues can lead to death. One serious cause of shock might be due to hypothermia. With many people still out of heat, coupled with another storm coming, it’s entirely possible that you come across someone in need of CPR.

We watched this video (below) at our refresher and it is a great lesson on hands-only CPR. You can do this without being certified in emergency healthcare and it could make all the difference in a life or death situation. As for the video itself, please disregard the emergency number in the video as this was created for the British Heart Association.


Have a Plan: In Ski Patrol, we train and plan for a variety of scenarios that are both likely and unlikely to occur. The likely scenarios are things like broken legs or head injuries. The unlikely scenarios are things like an entire chairlift collapsing. In either case, we have a plan and set of tools we can use to handle any situation.

In times of an emergency, it is important to stay organized and have a plan. Hurricane Sandy caught everyone off guard and many were ill-prepared. In 2001 my family was also caught off guard when an F2 tornado hit our house in New Jersey.

Just like the fire-escape route in your office building, your family should have a defined plan of action in the event of an emergency.

Have the Tools: I think we all now understand the importance of preparation so some things to consider include: food and water supplies, clothing for extreme weather conditions, medical supplies like bandages and medicine, tools like knives and shovels, and gas and fuel.

Below is an actual list of items that a Sandy victim is in need of. Might you need these things too in case of another emergency?

  • – work gloves to pick up your sewage soaked stuff
  • – black garbage bags to put them in….
  • – swiss army/leatherman type multi tools
  • – hand sanitizer
  • – plastic grocery bags for use over spackle bucket as toilet. baby wipes and diapers also
  • – paper towels / toilet paper/ zip lock bags all sizes
  • – plastic tarps to lay your good stuff on so it stays off of the wet porch and street while you pack it in your car…
  • – rope to tie down your roof and your hatch back so you can fit more stuff per trip.
  • – rubber boots for cleanup volunteers and the older people wandering the street in their slippers because they will not leave their homes….
  • – propane as people are using their gas grills to keep warm…
  • – flashlights/batteries/head lamps
  • – metal water/paint buckets to boil water on the grill to make cup of soup/canned ready to eat meals (think chef boyardee) especially with pull tops!/tea/hot cocoa/instant coffee also flip top canned fruit!
  • – certified red plastic gas cans… as people are bringing poland spring jugs to the gas station and being turned away .. 2- 1/2 gallon or smaller…. we would love 5 gallon ones too but they are very heavy to carry when full especially if you have to walk a great distance…….. trust me I know!
  • – our “pipe dreams” are for generators and hand trucks but we will work on the small stuff for now…
  • – I know there are more items but these are what WE needed when we were there… clothing and food being brought by local scout troops etc but the above things the stores down there are out of!

So there you have it. Having a basic understanding of life saving skills like CPR, having a plan, and having the right tools can make all the difference in another disastrous situation.

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