There is an interesting interview with Amanda Ripley, author of The Unthinkable: Who Survives When Disaster Strikes—and Why, in Mother Jones.

Time reporter Amanda Ripley was in New York when two planes crashed into the World Trade Center. Over the next few weeks, she talked to dozens of 9/11 survivors and was entranced by their different responses. Why did one woman coming out of Tower 1 freeze when she saw the bodies of workers who had jumped from above, while the woman next to her walked briskly past them to safety? Why were people terrified of terrorist attacks, when they were more likely to die from accidental falls or car crashes?

Ripley began talking to survivors of floods, earthquakes, school shootings, hostage situations, and tsunamis and soon found that all these people had knowledge they wanted to share. It’s information we need to hear, because instead of telling us how to survive another 9/11, the TSA takes away our tweezers and shoes at security. We don’t have plane-crash drills, or flood drills, and that’s what makes those situations deadly. Luckily, Ripley found that we have the ability to survive almost any disaster—even the worst-case scenario of a terrorist-deployed nuclear bomb. Our bodies take care of a lot of things for us, constricting vessels to reduce blood loss, and boosting muscle-enhancing hormones. Half the battle is just cognitively knowing you can survive. The other half is making it happen.

The TSA examples are bad government, while we should be demanding good government – government that provides people with the skills and information necessary to hold things together until the government can bring resources to bear.

I always have a multitool (with knife) and flashlight on my person, as well as about 10′ of paracord. Always. If I can get to my car, I’ve got my CERT kit, which includes hard hat, gloves, assorted tools, a first-aid kit, safety glasses, ear protection, dust masks, a small amount of food and water, spare batteries for my flashlight, a large fixed-blade knife, and more. This is how you fight terrorism; you remove the sense of dread and helplessness felt after an attack, which dramatically reduces the effective terror caused by an attack. My training was largely provided by volunteers with a tiny amount of government grant money (HSA) and some corporate donations. My training makes me more useful to my community in the event of a disaster – flood, fire, tornado, earthquake, or terrorist attack (and other disasters unmentioned here). But the entire program is sustained by dedicated volunteers. The entire nationwide Citizen Corps program – of which CERT is just a small part – operates on just $14.5 million. We can, and should, do better.

 

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