Saturday, April 25, 2009

What Rhymes With "Orange"?

My family and my Crew use color codes. Due to the swine/avian/human flu break out, we are currently at Code Orange.

Color codes are a good way to lend structure to our thinking, planning, and actions. Like everything it seems I blog about, to be useful, these must be thought out, rehearsed, and agreed upon - in advance.

Emergency Medical System Codes

I am a volunteer firefighter and we actually respond to more medical calls than fires – we are typically closer to the scene than EMS, we have sufficient basic skills and gear, and when EMS gets there, we can help them carry gear and people. We also set up helicopter landing zones when required.

In our corner of the EMS world this is what we use:

Code Green
– the patient (pt) is fine, really
Code Yellow – the pt is fine but should probably see a doctor in the next 4 hours.
Code Red – yeah, we need to get this pt to the hospital right now.
Code Blue – they are not breathing on their own
Code Black – they are dead
Code Pink – (used more in the hospital than with EMS) – young pediatric pt

We refer to patients/victims by color code so responding/awaiting folks know what to expect. Example: if I am the first one to a car crash I may report over the radio that, “We have one Code Green, two Code Yellows and one Code Red – Start a helicopter and dispatch a second ambulance.”

Awareness Codes

The Grandfather of “Modern Pistol Shooting”, Jeff Cooper, came up with color codes for awareness. These were intended as aids to help one not get overtaken by the OODA loop. This is my interpretation of his work:

White – totally unaware. Asleep. Where most sheeple spend most of their day.
Yellow – relaxed awareness. Where one should spend most of one’s day.
Orange – alert, focused awareness – You have identified a potential threat and are beginning to take some action and mentally/emotionally prepare for immediate escalation.
Red – Combat is imminent or occurring.

Personal Preparedness Codes

As I wrote at the outset, my family and Crew use color codes to indicate, order,and organize our level or state of preparedness. As with the codes above, these are just a means, easily understood by all concerned, to focus us as a group. We can move forwards and backwards along the scale without too much drama and very little discussion. We have already had the discussions. For the most part, we have already done the rehearsals. The codes are to allow us to act – swiftly and methodically. Here is what we use:

Code Yellow – normal state of maintaining, improving our preparations and position. Relaxed. No sense of urgency. We continue to rotate through supplies, test new stuff, add to the homestead and so on. Normal day to day life with our family and Crew.

Code Orange - we have identified a specific potential problem. First we alert each other that we are in Code Orange and why. All vehicles get filled with gas and remain no lower than ¾ full for the duration. Stock is taken of food and water stores and short items are immediately topped off. This means we run to the grocery store and get gas on the way home. We may need to top off on critter feed; we may need to fill water troughs. If we were thinking of getting something (say, oh, a case of #2 shells) we do that also. We also continuously monitor various information sources – tv, radio, internet, scanners and contacts. After we top off and while monitoring we have the initial Code Orange meeting where we discuss what we know, knock the dust off of our Action Plan if we have one for this contingency and start setting out “trip wires”. These are planned actions we will take when certain events/actions occur. Example: Quarantine measures are enacted in Los Angeles. We then begin our own isolation as a group within 90 minutes. We tweak (based on specific unique factors) what will precipitate Code Red. We had our family meeting and the Crew telephonic alert last night, and the Crew meeting this morning.

Code Red - Most of this is OPSEC. For all intents and purposes, TS has HTF. Pre-planned actions are taken. These involve security, communications, medical and resources. Basically we fall back as a family, as the Crew, and start operating in close coordination with each other. We are not relying on anyone else for anything. We are thankful for stuff like electricity, water and so on but we are not relying on it. These are written out and rehearsed plans/actions. Honestly, we have never taken the time to do a full blown rehearsal but we have practiced the different aspects of our plan. We really need to do a 72 hour test…

Code Black - All of this is OPSEC. Black is a dark color and this is a dark place. This is for TEOTWAWKI. The rules have changed. Things will never be the same. We have discussed it. We have written trip wires, plans, and actions. We revisit thesea lot. We cannot directly practice a lot of Code Black stuff. But we can and do work on aspects of it. Code Black is not good.

So – we are at Code Orange.
We are comfortable here.
Where are You?

Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ. – 1 Corinthians 11:1

If you have any comments I’d love to hear them.
If they really interest me, I may even post them.
You can reach me at Joe

You can also join us to discuss this and other issues at Viking Preparedness Forums

Prepared Americans for a Strong America

Monday, April 20, 2009

The Plan

A member of the FORUMS wrote the following in a long and pithy thread on BoBs:
Though folks usually insist that a person "have a plan", there's never an explanation as to what "the plan" is. O.P.S.E.C.? For some, yes, but the most part, it's almost like a "buzzword" that let's others know we're all in the same club.

I suspect that most don’t have a plan. Not a viable one anyway. Certainly not one they have tested. The few that do have a plan are likely loathe to share it due to OPSEC. I have had bug out plans originating from several different places (I moved around a lot in my earlier days) and terminating in various locales. I know and have known several people that have workable bug out plans so I will draw on these to try and flesh this post out a bit. Of course I will change names, locations and some details to preserve privacy but they are real.

The Plan involves:
Start Point
Travel Mode

If you have read this blog for long enough you will immediately realize that we will employ PACE (Primary, Alternate, Contingency, Emergency – multiple options) when we develop The Plan.

Start Point
Your primary start point is your home – that’s where you spend most of your time and that is where most of your stuff is. Your alternate start point would probably be work or school. Other start points could be wherever you happen to find yourself. If you are planning a three week vacation you may wish to modify your basic plan to suit.

You need to decide now what will trigger your evacuation. Do your own threat analysis. Maybe it’s a big earthquake, or the Yellowstone Caldera, or nuclear war, or imminent hurricane landfall in your area, or….it’s personal. But sit down now and decide what your triggers will be. What if them to death. And then, if your trigger trips – GO! Don’t think about it - you should have already done all the wargaming you required. When the event is happening is not the time to THINK, it’s not the time to DISCUSS, it is not the time to try to GAIN CONSENSUS – it is the time to ACT. Get moving.

This is the key part of the whole plan. If you don’t have a destination you don’t have a plan. Your destination must be viable – it must support/sustain you and yours. Selecting the center of the national forest as your destination will not work. No, it won’t. Not if the only thing there is rocks and trees. You are not Robinson Crusoe. You are not a mountain man and even they had support networks.

Your primary destination should be an area that is outside of the threat danger zone. It should be clear of the problems that made you flee in the first place. One of my destinations is based on the Yellowstone Caldera blowing. If it does we will be moving within an hour to a location outside of the projected ash fall. This location is a friend’s home. He knows we plan on coming. Our home is one of his destinations in the event of problems in his locale. Quid pro quo. The key point here is that both parties need to discuss this aspect of The Plan and know what they are getting in for.

Your alternate destination needs to be in a different geographical area. If something happens to make your primary destination not so nice, you need to be able to go somewhere else. You need to do all the coordination for this location just like for the primary one. And so on for contingency and emergency destinations.

I said you cannot plan on bugging out to the center of the national forest. Let me caveat that – you cannot plan on it if you have not made any prior preparations. I know of a group that has a bug out location in a mountain town. They own a house there that is stocked with needed supplies and they use it as a vacation cabin. They have also ridden horses into the back country behind their house and cached a robust “spike camp”. This is basically tarps and water and food and so on to build a small shanty village in the out back. This is their emergency fallback position.

The best bug out destinations are centered around people. Humans. That you need to talk to. Before hand. You need to develop relationships. This takes effort. This takes time. The vast majority of you are not welcome at Casa Joe during Interesting Times. Nothing personal – we just don’t have that kind of relationship. If you plan of fleeing to Aunt Matilda’s house – make sure Auntie knows what to expect and agrees. If not – you don’t have a plan – you have a wish.

Your route is based on your start point, the conditions surrounding your Trigger, where your Start Point is, and your Destination. Lots of variables, I know. Your primary route should probably be based on the assumption that you are going to get a head start on the masses of fleeing sheep. You will get a head start because you have The Plan and you have your nose to the wind. You will likely (initially) use interstate highways. This is fine for a while.

Your alternate route will probably avoid these sheeple magnets and use lesser travelled roads. It will avoid large concentrations of humans. It may avoid military bases – it depends on your envisioned Trigger. I like military bases for most things – but I can gain access.

You will have several routes (PACE). You should have decision points along each route where you decided to continue as you are, or switch to an alternative route. Say the New Madrid lets go and you plan to travel along Route A. There is a bridge. You will need to decide (now) what you will do if, while driving down Route A you notice the bridge is out. See the Convoy post below to read a bit about scouting out decision points enroute.

You need to spend some time on route selection. When you think you know your routes – drive them. Make notes. If the route is viable then designate it Primary or Alternate or….. Then get good map coverage of the area and mark your routes on the map(s). Use different colored highlighters for different routes – this way, if you are injured, someone else can still carry you along your route. Mark any potential hazards or decision points – then decide how you will address them if needed.

Travel Mode
Primary will be your “Bug out Vehicle” (BOV). For most of us this is not the purpose-built Uber Vehicle but our daily driver. It does need to be viable in light of the aforementioned aspects of your plan. Deciding to use your Harley to get from Arizona to Maine in February is probably not a good idea. But hey – the point is to think it out – for YOURSELF. If you plan on getting to Aunt Matilda’s house you better have a way to get there. That rust bucket that can’t make it across town will probably not do.

Alternate means may be another vehicle, or your neighbor’s truck or a train (you are smart and left EARLY) or anything other than your primary vehicle. Other modes could be horse, motorcycle (yeah, I know) or what have you. Your Emergency means will likely be your feet. Your travel mode may affect your routes and location – it all ties together. I was travelling internationally once a long time ago and my personal bug out (get home) plan involved several modes of transportation for each contingency. Perhaps I would drive to the airport and fly home (primary). Perhaps I would take the train to another country, taxi to the airport and fly home (alternate). Or maybe I would book passage on an ocean going vessel with the ample cash I used to carry (it wasn’t mine – it was yours. And I gave it back.) Or maybe I would have to take the long walk to the other side of the continent and hook up with some “friends”. The point here is that each plan (PACE) must stand alone and not depend on any other plan.

Based on what is happening, where you are going and how you are getting there, you need to decide what you will take with you. If you are going to Aunt Matilda’s you may want to ask her what to bring. One of my Destination dudes told me not to worry about guns or ammo or clothes or medical gear – “just bring food”. Another one told me to bring my goats and chickens! I can carry a lot in my primary bug out vehicle. I cannot carry very much on my back. But I have decided what I will carry with each. You need to plan what you will do if you have to say, abandon your BoV and hoof it. This is where BoBs come in – can you access yours quickly?

Which brings us to load plans. After you practice and decide how you are packing and where stuff goes - draw a chart - this will greatly speed up the process of gettign out of Dodge. Make sure you don't bury the jack underneath fifty gallons of water cans...

But when ye shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing where it ought not, (let him that readeth understand,) then let them that be in Judaea flee to the mountains: And let him that is on the housetop not go down into the house, neither enter therein, to take any thing out of his house: And let him that is in the field not turn back again for to take up his garment. - Mark 13:14 - 16

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Ammo Under Glass

You may have read my blog post on 10,000 rounds - this isn't about that -really.

Here's the deal: In the past (key word, that) we all had an amount of ammo per weapon that we felt comfortable with. Get below that amount, and we go buy more. If you are like me, you stocked ammo above that comfort point so that if you went out on Saturday and shot a couple boxes, you didn't have to run right out and buy a couple boxes more to "top off".

It is rapidly getting to the point where we cannot just run right out and buy some more. (I believe this is part of the plan - but what do I know? I also understand supply and demand - so where is the increased supply to meet the demand? Maybe the demand was so rapid, the ammo industry cannot keep up. And regardless - it is getting tougher to purchase ammo - not to mention crazy expensive. But I digress...)

I ran into a fellah yesterday who seriously asked me a question that, in retrospect, gave me pause: Where can I buy .45 ammo? This was not some newbie without a clue - this was a man who had gone to this place and that and could not find any. .45 ammo! It's not like it's a rare caliber. He was seriously asking if we knew any place local that had it on the shelves.

And so, I think it may be time to put some ammo behind glass - you know, the glass you break in time of emergency.
I think it's time to set aside some ammo for the time when we will absolutely not be able to get any more.

If you agree with me then it doesn't end there. No, no. We must now decide what we will need ammo for and how much we need to lay aside.

Let's take .45 ammo for my buddy. Let's also assume that firearms and ammo are not illegal - they are just unavailable. (Insert dark, evil, snickering Overlord here)

We all need to stay tuned up on our handguns - we need to practice. Yes, we can practice with .22 to an extent - but we must keep coming back to full power loads to handle the dynamics of shooting our chosen caliber. Some friends of mine shoot 1,000 rounds per week (they don't buy their own ammo). I suspect you will shoot less. Heck, you may not even shoot every week. Most especially when you can't replace what you are shooting. But you do have a number of rounds you would like to practice with yearly regardless. And you can envision how long the ammo crisis could go on. Multiply.

You also can determine how much ammo you may realistically need to shoot in anger over the span of your lifetime - it's not much and now you can refer to 10,000 Rounds. Add that number to your previous number.

I think you could also add in a 10% buffer.

Some of you more enlightened readers are no doubt now talking to your monitors and saying, "Yes, Joe - this is why we reload".

To which I reply, "Yes, but you still have to do the math - how much are you going to have to reload?" I understand buying primers is just as difficult of late as buying rounds.

I have not done the numbers for myself but I sure hope I don't end up with a number like........10,000 rounds.

Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. - Matthew 6:19 - 21


If you have any comments I’d love to hear them.
If they really interest me, I may even post them.
You can reach me at Joe

You can also join us to discuss this and other issues at Viking Preparedness Forums

Prepared Americans for a Strong America