Neighborhood Preparedness – Get Guidance from an Emergency Responder

Often we hear that it’s important to be prepared because it makes things easier for emergency responders in the event of a disaster. But what is it that emergency responders would like for you and me to do in our neighborhoods?

When it comes to neighborhood preparedness, get guidance from an emergency responder. You can sample a little of that guidance on this week’s DestinySurvival Radio. My guest is Scott Finazzo, author of The Neighborhood Emergency Response Handbook.


Your Guide

Since it’s a good idea to know something about the emergency responder who will give you guidance on preparedness in your neighborhood, here’s info about Scott from his book.


Scott Finazzo, like his father before him, has been a firefighter for nearly 20 years and currently serves as a lieutenant for the Overland Park (Kansas) Fire Department. He has been an instructor for community emergency response teams since 2000, helping to educate and prepare citizens for emergencies.

In addition to being an emergency responder and educator, Scott has been writing in various capacities for much of his life, contributing to blogs, magazines, and books. Scott’s first book, The Prepper’s Workbook, coauthored with Scott B. Williams, became a national best seller. He followed that up with Why Do All the Locals Think We’re Crazy?, a narrative of his kayaking journey through the Virgin Islands.

With years of experience both preparing for and responding to disasters, he has developed a keen interest in survival. Scott’s self-reliance skills have been honed by forays into the mountains and deserts of America, in, on, and under the ocean, and by several excursions into islands of the Caribbean. He maintains an intrinsic connection to travel and adventure, documenting many of his endeavors on his site:

Scott has a bachelor’s degree in management and human relations and two associate’s degrees. He currently lives in Shawnee, Kansas, until he can establish himself somewhere among palm trees. Find more on Scott’s website,


The Neighborhood Emergency Response Handbook


The Handbook

This is a book from an emergency responder’s point of view, telling you and me what we can do to make life go easier for all of us when there’s an emergency or disaster. Though it will likely be of greatest use to city dwellers, those who live in rural areas can benefit, too.

While The Prepper’s Workbook helps you get ready for a disaster or emergency, The Neighborhood Emergency Response Handbook helps you know what to do after the disaster has occurred.

To me this book is worth it for all the great information in the first sections. Then at the end of the book is a summary of key points. It’s sort of a cheat sheet. But you’ll want to read the whole book to fill in the gaps so the summary makes sense.

While you’ll find an abundance of factual guidance, Scott interjects a few personal experiences. This makes what he writes more credible and real.

Here’s a brief overview of the high points. You’ll find out about:

  • Creating event-specific disaster kits for yourself and family
  • Learning about basic fire safety and fire fighting
  • Establishing triage centers in the event that first responders can’t reach you
  • Stabilizing disaster victims through need-to-know first aid
  • Creating your own neighborhood emergency response team to keep your neighborhood safe and save lives should the worst occur


Key Concerns

Preppin’ Good in the Neighborhood

I was surprised to learn that Neighborhood Emergency Response Teams (NERTs) and Community Emergency Response Teams (CERTs) didn’t come into existence until the mid 1980’s and early 1990’s.
Could it be that we’ve lost so much of our community spirit in society that we need such structured organizational efforts?

Though “neighborhood” is in the book’s title, how to go about setting up a neighborhood broup isn’t discussed until near the end of the book. Scott says the information which comprises the bulk of the book is to help you and your family first.

If you want to go on from there to widen your circle, you’ll find practical suggestions which should help you avoid scaring or alienating neighbors and friends.

It’s vital to assess the skill sets and resources available in your group. Any doctors or nurses present? Any amateur radio operators? Any construction workers who could help rebuild? And who has what equipment?

Your group also needs organization and structure if it is to be successful.

In time of disaster, the group should be ready to self-activate. In other words, don’t wait for the authorities to show up and give you permission to act. Nonetheless, be ready to make a smooth transition to the authorities when they do arrive.

Putting a neighborhood group together is a wise thing to do in light of the possibility of civil unrest. Unfortunately, how and where such turmoil breaks out is unpredictable. It’s a different kind of threat than storms or fire. The more you can do for yourself and those around you, the better.


Not That Guy…

When Scott shows up in his fire truck, he sees people banded together to take care of one another. People are willing to help each other out.

But all too many will say, “I don’t need to prepare because, when disaster strikes, I’ll rely on the good-heartedness of my neighbors.” Don’t be that guy. Take care of yourself and your family first.

The emergency response system can get overwhelmed. Therefore, the more you do for yourself and those around you, the less of a burden you’ll place on others.


Top Priorities

Three things must take priority in the aftermath of a disaster. In a nutshell, stay safe while you help others. Scott explains this in his book, and we discussed them in our conversation. Those priorities are…
  • Life Safety
  • Incident Stabilization
  • Property Conservation


Size Up Matters

A large part of the “size up”–taking stock of the situation–is situational awareness. You need to be able to use all of your senses to identify what’s going on, what could happen, and what action to take.

But when is it right to follow your gut, or that inner voice? And when is it best to practice self restraint? If you’ve prepared yourself ahead of time mentally, you’ll have an edge.

Disasters will take us by surprise, whether we believe it or not. How will you respond?


Three Things We Must Have

Scott says we need supplies, education and insurance.

Throughout the book you’ll find checklists of supplies to have for given situations.

Get education about preparedness through books, classes and hands-on experience. For example, we should be knowledgeable about shutting off our utilities at home.

Don’t overlook the importance of having the right insurance coverage. For example, do you have flood protection for your home?


When to Get Out

When is it time to evacuate or bug out? This isn’t meant to sound vague, but several factors come into play, and much depends on the scenario involved.



As preppers, we hear and read much about starting fires, but how do we put one out? We would do well to understand fire so we’ll know what kind of a threat it is and how to put it out. As you might expect, a firefighter is the right one to inform us on such matters.

Four elements are required for fire. They are heat, fuel, oxygen and a chemical reaction. Taking away one of these will quench a fire. Scott gives us practical info about the classes of fires, fire extinguishers and how to use them.

Don’t mess around if a fire starts in your home. It can quickly grow to be larger than anything you can put out. You may need to escape suddenly. This is one scenario for which you definitely want to think ahead. Do you have kits ready to grab on your way out of the house?


Search and Rescue

You and your neighbors may find yourselves involved in a search and rescue operation near you. Scott passes along a number of pointers about that to keep you safe. For example, can you recognize when a building is too damaged to enter safely?

Whatever you do for search and rescue, be sure to work in teams of at least two. You and your neighbors should arrange ahead of time who will do what.


First Aid on the Spot

Scott spends quite a bit of time describing various medical situations. We need to know what to do and what not to do.

For example, practicing triage means prioritizing and making medical decisions that may seem harsh at first. But the goal is to do the greatest good for the greatest number of people.


Our Beloved Pets

Several times throughout the book, Scott reminds us to look out for our pets. What will we do with our animals if we need to evacuate? As with all other aspects of preparedness, we must plan ahead.


Take Note

Documentation is important. While people take pictures with their phone cameras all the time, it’s good to write things down, too. When you report to authorities about an incident, you won’t remember everything. There’s just too much happening too fast.


Body and Soul

Enduring a disaster is more strenuous on the body and mind than working out at a gym. You can do amazing things when running on adrenaline, but you might injure yourself when you do so.

Don’t overlook your mental condition. Scott talks about the trauma we may experience when encountering death and destruction. He has faced it himself. It’s not easy to get over.

You and I will need help to work through it, whether we talk to a friend, counselor or psychologist. Don’t try to tough it out by keeping things bottled up.


Going Deeper

I know I say this often, but all that I’ve written here can’t possibly cover all that’s in Scott’s book or all we talked about. Therefore, hear my conversation with Scott by listening to DestinySurvival Radio for July 23, 2015. (Right click to download.) Get The Neighborhood Emergency Response Handbook by clicking on its title wherever you see it in this post.

Scott’s book is one you’ll not only want to add to your survival library, but you’ll want to share it with your neighbors and friends. If you’re heading up a prepper group, invest in several copies.

Are you part of a prepper group in your local area or your neighborhood? Feel free to leave a comment below and tell others how it’s going. Or share any thoughts you have about what you’ve read above or heard in my visit with Scott Finazzo.


Additional Resources

Scott and I mentioned a couple of books on following your gut instincts in the face of danger. I’ve included another one for your consideration. Click on the title of the book of your choice to find out more and to order. You can also see reviews I’ve written for a couple of these books.


Author: John Wesley Smith

John Wesley Smith writes and podcasts from his home in Central Missouri. His goal is to help preppers as he continues along his own preparedness journey.