Are you prepared?

Posted 01.30.07

This is the ninth anniversary of the terrible ice storm that brought this area to its knees, knocking out power across Quebec.

Since that time, we've watched terrorist attacks in New York, London, and elsewhere, devastating earthquakes and hurricanes, and have been warned that a pandemic is not a matter of "if" but "when."

Although we live in the national capital region, I just discovered a booklet prepared by the City of Ottawa, "Are you ready?" Evidently Gatineau has purchased equipment to respond to chemical, biological, and nuclear "incidents," but we don't yet have a special response unit, and the Province has just ordered the City to rectify this.

Do all of our citizens know what to do in case of an emergency? Do you have an emergency kit in your house, along with water, food, and supplies to last at least three to six days?

The checklists in the Ottawa kit are extensive, with one for general items such as a battery or crank radio, flashlights, clothing, etc., a list of family documents you should be able to grab and take with you, a list for the car, suggestions about food and water, for first aid, and for special needs.

What seems to be missing from all of this is a plan for neighbors to cooperate to help each other if necessary, and for volunteers who could pitch in so that essential workers (who might be in short supply) could do their jobs more effectively.

My older sister lives in a resort community which has a group of trained volunteers who can go door-to-door in case of any emergency, assist in evacuation, handle fire extinguishers, even triage the injured so paramedics can tend to those who need help first.

The Community Emergency Response Team in Big Canoe, Georgia, has trained 88 volunteers, many of them retirees, and has already handled several serious emergencies, including a helicopter crash, a severe wind storm, and a couple of fires. It is only one of many CERTs in the state.

One of my concerns is for the elderly, especially those on prescription medications. Rules from the RAMQ mean one can't obtain medications for more than a month at a time, which means that if an emergency should hit just as your prescriptions run out, you could be in big trouble.

We need to tell our elected officials how we feel about these issues. Write to the Prime Minister and your MP at: House of Commons, Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6 (no postage required!), to the Premier and your MNA at: Hôtel du Parlement, 1045, rue des Parlementaires, Québec, QC G1A 1A4, and to the Mayor at: Maison du Citoyen, 25, rue Laurier, Gatineau, QC J8X 3Y9. Contact the RAMQ at: 1125, Grande Allée Ouest, Québec, QC G1S 1E7.

And here are a couple of resources to help you prepare: http://getprepared.ca/index_e.asp,

Barbara Floria Graham is the author of the 20th anniversary edition of Five Fast Steps to Better Writing and Mewsings/Musings. Her website: www.SimonTeakettle.com

Copyright © 2007 Barbara Floria Graham/Log Cabin Chronicles/1.07