Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Blarg.

My eyeballs feel like they're packed in hot sand, my joints ache and the back of my throat is dry.

I'm coming down with something. Bloody hell.

In lieu of actually, you know, thinking, here is something I wrote during the height of the Katrina after-mess, when we were getting evacuees -- no, we weren't -- there's a busload due in the next two hours -- no, it went to Amarillo -- then what's that parked at the community center -- wrong load of evacuees -- oh ...

Anyhoo, here is what I wrote on The High Road way back when:

Random yacking from an exhausted LawDog.

1) The only people responsible for the safety of you and yours -- is you. Nobody, not the local government, county government, state government, federal government or the United Nations, nobody owes you survival.

Take it upon yourself to be ready. If you can't protect you and yours for a week, then start figuring out how you're going to do it.

Mother Nature is a bitch. Accept it. Not only that, but she is shacked up with Old Man Murphy, and they both hate your guts. Personally.

Once you understand this simple concept, take an honest look about you. Do you live in Tornado Alley? If so, sooner or later there is going to be a tornado addressed to you. Accept this, and plan for it. Do you live on a fault line? Sooner or late there is going to be an earthquake. Accept this fact and plan for it. Same thing for living in dry forests, below sea level or anywhere else that has been the subject of a Discovery Channel disaster special.

Take simple medical training. Self-taught, if nothing else. Take rescue classes, wilderness survival classes and learn how to swim. If the only thing you can do is read the Boy Scout Handbook, then read it cover-to-cover every year or so.

2) If you are in, or wind up in, a de facto leadership position, then LEAD. Leaders have to do the most difficult, simplest, and most important task during a crisis: they must lead.

You must be calm. You must give the appearance of being in complete control, even if --especially if -- you aren't. You are there so that all the people under you who actually get things done, can look to you and think: If he's calm, then things must be under control. That way each person under your command can take heart and do the million tiny things that add up to getting, and keeping, the situation under control

If you don't think you can keep your mud in a ball during a crisis, then step down from your leadership position.

And I'll give you a hint: bursting into tears on national television, or spewing obscenities on national television is not keeping your mud in a ball. Once your people see you losing your grip, then they loosen their handle on the situation, and their subordinates come unwound, so on and so forth until the whole situation snowballs into a complete cluster****.

More than likely you will wind up with survivors/refugees/displaced persons or whathaveyou wandering about.

If you find yourself with a large group of the above, give them something to do. Do not let them sit and stew on the situation. Grab them, and have them make shelters. Move the elderly. Pitch tents. Dig latrines. Dig graves. Pour tea. Fold towels. Anything. Have them do something and keep them doing something until the situation resolves itself or command passes.

Give your group identity and purpose, impose order and do not allow your group to devolve into anarchy. Use short, simple tasks:
"We're going to the field and erect these tents."
"Now, we will dig 30 latrine pits."
"We will now help everyone move into the tent city."
"Now, we will go to the Wally-World, where we acquire and distribute food, water and medical stuff."
"Now, we will keep watch in rotation on the tent city until morning."
"It is morning, we will now clear the streets between this Dome and the airport to ensure that vehicles can move between the airport and our tent city."

Simple, easy tasks. If their minds and bodies are busy, it is better for everyone involved.

That's all for now. I'm off to bed.

LawDog

I learned the basic principles of leadership at my fathers' knee. PLDC and BNCOC in the US military sharpened these lessons and 13 years as a deputy sheriff polished them nicely, but the basics were passed down by Dad.

I had thought -- foolishly -- that this sort of thing was common sense; "Idle hands being the devil's playground" and all that. I was utterly amazed by camera footage of parts of New Orleans with some semblance of authority present -- and citizens just milling around. Not doing a thing except worrying and fomenting trouble.

My father would have -- I have seen him do it -- wangled shelters from some one. Tents or some-such, from the military, if nothing else. And he might have borrowed an NCO or three, if the military was handy.

Then, he would have made every swinging Richard in the Superdome who was physically capable of doing some kind of work, pitch those tents.

He'd have worked those folks from can-see to can't-see, and not only would they have been too tired to get into mischief, but they'd've increased the safety, comfort, and general level of civilization of everyone there at the same time.

Doing something about the problems, and in that doing something, helping the group as a whole, is what a large percentage of humans instinctively want to do in a crisis. It's what they need to do.

Most of them simply require someone to tell them to do it, and point them in a direction.

Unfortunately in these modern times, people seem to think that "help" involves counseling, and requires "time-outs" and "coming to terms" with the situation.

I guess so, but all that is to be done after the fan has finished flinging the manure. You can counsel, pat-hands and empathize on National TeeVee after civilization has returned.

Up until that time what is needed is someone who can say: "You and you -- get off your arses and grab that tent. You, stop snivelling and give them a hand. Take the tents over to that flat ground."

"You and the rest of your pack, grab those shovels, go over to the far side of the parking lot and start digging trenches. Five feet deep, two feet wide and as long as you can make them."

It's not fun. There will be no rewards. You will have to make tough decisions and stand by them.

Why should you do it?

Because someone has to.

*blink, blink*

Goodness, I didn't intend to get off on a rant. I'm off to bed now.

If I don't blog for a day or so, it's because the 'flu, or West Nile, or whatever, is kicking my furry butt. Give me time and some chicken soup and I'll pop back.

LawDog

14 comments:

Karla (ThreadBndr) said...

LD. Wish I lived close enough to drop by a pot of chicken soup and some ginger ale. You take care of yourself.

Kimberly said...

Take care of yourself and hubby and I hope you feel better soon.

Hammer said...

Get better soon.

Gargle with strong salt water to take down swelling.

Chris (in Southeast TX) said...

Hope you feel better LawDog!!!

Anonymous said...

I didn't believe in it until I tried it, but a hot toddy really helps the sore throat, sinuses and congested lungs. It tastes horrible (like cough syrup, for some reason...) but two shots of brandy in a glass of boiling hot tea, with a tablespoon of honey and squeeze a lemon wedge into it. Then sip it while lying in bed with the covers on.

But I imagine someone as experienced as you probably knows about this already.

KCSteve said...

Perhaps you're lucky and it's just a reaction to being breathed on by yesterday's defendant.

Then again, that could be worse than just the flu!

kateykakes said...

Take care of yourself and please get well soon. Get plenty of rest and we'll all be here waiting for you when you get back.

Hugs to you.

MadRocketScientist said...

I know this is off topic, and I hope you feel better soon, but I thought I'd plop this on your comments.

http://www.courant.com/news/opinion/op_ed/hc-medina0817.artaug17,0,2116961.story?coll=hc-headlines-oped

Some folks are just never satisfied.

Sheesh!

Anonymous said...

I am sorry also that you've got the crud and hope for you to feel better soon.

In the meantime, since you mentioned it, I did notice, and exclaim to my husband several times, rather loudly, on the vision of all the Katrina people SITTING around and doing nothing but waiting to be 'rescued'. Why were they not doing anything to help themselves, get out of the sun, get organized, act? Is it not simply human nature to look around, assess the situation for what needs doing and then do it? Even in third world countries, the evacuees grab their cooking pots as they flee and set 'em up over a fire as soon as they reach relative safety.

I do not get it, but I'll tell you this: I'd have to be mighty, mighty shellshocked to simply sit down and wait for help or death.

Cindi

Jerry The Geek said...

Crud happens. You'll get over it.

More important is the leadership training.

101 out of 100 times, people just need to know that somebody cares what they do. It doesn't matter WHAT they do, it only matters that someone is there. Watching. Providing direction.

People are missiles, needing only an azimuth and and a distance to make a difference. Or, more appropriately, needing a reason to keep on living.

You're right. The two primary goals of a leader are to minimize helplessness/panic, and point a direction. People make themselves worthwhile if they are given a purpose, even if that purpose is incomprehensible in the context of the moment.

Helplessness/purpose. Aimlessness/direction.
Panic/hope.

They're not obviously diametric opposites, until you're in a situation that is incomprehensible.

99 Lions lead by a goat are less effective than 99 sheep lead by a lion.

Leadership is everything.

It is survival.

Draven said...

I think that the instinct to get something done about one's situation may be getting bred out of us...

Chris (in Southeast TX) said...

I know this is off topic, but since MadRocketScientist brought it up:
I think stun guns are great. As and ALTERNATIVE to more deadly force. Using one because someone fails to get off a cell phone is bulls*it. And yes, there are MANY instances where a stun gun is used for mere compliance, as in "sir, I will taze you if you don't put out that cigarette". On the other extreme is a suspect coming at the cop with a knife. There do need to be strict guideliness on tazer use and I don't believe it should be EXCEPT as a substitute for items like 9mm, pepper spray, nightstick etc. (Tazer is much easier to abuse off course than 9mm) But I DO think tazers can be great. If a cop feels threatened by me, I'd much rather be tazed than shot.....

Just my $0.02 - y'all feel free to argue with me as I'm sure some of you will......

Get better soon LawDog, hope its nothing serious!

HollyB said...

Poor LD, have you been to the sawbones yet? Or are you just gonna tough this one out on your own?
I have finally had to combine steroids with my allergy meds to get them under control.
Saw some Allergist on the news the other AM. saying how this year is the worst in many a year. The fall allergy season hit 6 weeks early. I can add a hardy
"AMEN" to her professional opinings. My Doc asked what I do when my allergies are this bad, my answer was, "They haven't been this bad since I was 14 and we lived in the middle of a 40 acre field of goldenrod !"

Hope you get better soon.

Hugs,
Holly

kateykakes said...

Just checking on you again...

Hope you're feeling better.