An article appeared in the September ’09 issue of “The Atlantic” entitled “In Case of Emergency.” It profiles FEMA’s new head, Craig Fugate. He’s not the typical government bureaucrat or politician, having been a volunteer firefighter and paramedic, as well as managing disasters in
Fugate is immersed in planning for disasters and emergencies. FEMA staff are told to have their own plans ready for their families and are given surprise drills on the job.
According to the article, Fugate is a straight talker who says we need to change our attitude and behavior toward emergencies. Believe it or not, he encourages less dependence on government and more on ourselves and one another.
He believes the more people depend on the federal government, the greater the chances for failure in disasters. As part of a fedral system, FEMA is supposed to defer to state and local officials first. The public should be utilized more, rather than seen as liabilities.
Fugate doesn’t refer to people as victims, unless they’ve died in a disaster, but prefers to call them survivors. He wants citizens to be rescuers and responders.
This emphasis on Americans pulling together more in time of disaster sounds good, doesn’t it? After any major natural disaster, I’ve come to expect the human interest news stories and “Reader’s Digest” articles about people helping one another. They’re not just heart warming drivel, but prove we as individuals can do something meaningful in the wake of trouble.
We’ve seen time and again after hurricanes like Andrew and Katrina that providing immediate rescue services is difficult at all levels of the government. Time will tell, but it could be that Craig Fugate is the best thing to happen to FEMA, at least when it comes to natural disasters.
Since Fugate is telling people to hone their survival instincts, we’d better hone our survival skills as well. With so many wanting less government intervention in our lives, during disasters it looks like that’s what we’ll get.
Do you have your family’s survival kits and supplies ready?