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Emergency Preparedness the topic at Local Amateur Radio Club’s Monthly Meeting


By: David Deschesne

Fort Fairfield Journal, January 9, 2013

Ken Hayes, RN was the guest speaker at the monthly meeting of the Aroostook Amateur Radio Association (AARA) held at Northern Maine Community College in Presque Isle.

Hayes, who is also a licensed amateur radio operator, had worked in hospitals in California and Minnesota before moving to the Houlton area. While at those hospitals he helped write their emergency preparedness plans and recently assisted the town of Houlton in updating theirs. At the AARA meeting he gave a presentation on emergency preparedness and covered a host of things one may want to consider when developing plans for their own family.

Hayes says even though the best efforts are made at developing emergency preparedness plans for government, institutions and families, no plan can ever possibly cover all the potential possibilities that one might have to deal with. “They had a plan in place for Hurricane Katrina and recently, Hurricane Sandy,” said Hayes, “but as you saw, things came up that nobody expected or was prepared for. They’re still trying to work things out with in the aftermath of Sandy.”

He said planning ahead and not trying to be too specific is a good place to start when developing your own emergency preparedness plan. “Once an event happens, there’s no time to prepare. When preparing for an emergency, try to keep your plans generic so the things you acquire can cross over to multiple scenarios and other events.”

As we saw in Louisiana and New York, it is not realistic to rely on government agencies to take care of individuals in a prompt and efficient manner. “You can’t rely on government, you have to do for yourself and plan for yourself,” said Hayes. “Politicians are the worst emergency planners.”

Hayes reflected on some of the attributes of today’s society that has made many people vulnerable to strife and hardship during a disaster. “With so much going on, people feel like they have lost control of their lives and surroundings. They have become anonymous, they don’t really know their neighbors anymore. We also live in a just-in-time society. Stores don’t stock a lot on their shelves, the backs of stores are now simply receiving docks. If the trucks don’t come in at least every other day, the shelves will soon be bare. When bad things happen, people get worried and panic. That’s when they all run to the stores to pick up the things they think they’ll need and then we see the shelves emptying.”

Hayes notes that Aroostook County is at the tail end of that just-in-time pipeline of supplies. “Anything we can produce locally, like fruits or vegetables, is definitely a benefit.”

In emergency scenarios, Hayes said there are “slow” events, such as hurricanes and forest fires that allow for some warning, and “rapid” events that occur with little or no warning, such as earthquakes, tornadoes and terrorist attacks.

In developing a family emergency plan, Hayes said not to focus only on one type of event. “Plan for dual use of your gear, the more detail you work into your plan, the less likely that particular event will happen.”

Unfortunately, there is a social stigma applied by some in society who look at so-called “preppers” as some sort of outcast. “If you’re going to prepare for emergencies, don’t tell a lot of people about it, but you do want to know who your friends are. Most importantly, your family has to be involved and buy in to the idea, otherwise you won’t be very successful in implementing it.”

He gave tips on how to handle medical supplies, such as prescription drugs that may need to be stockpiled for diabetics, as well as knowing basic first aid. “When a major event happens and you have a medical situation, the hospital will likely be overwhelmed so the more you can do for yourself, the better off you will be until things settle down.”

He also spoke to the need for self-defense and having some training in the use of firearms for protection of your friends and family. “People who are otherwise law-abiding get desperate very quickly when the food runs out and they become uncertain as to their survival. If you have something they want, they may do things they otherwise wouldn’t in a normal environment” He also cautioned on the prudent use of firearms. “Be careful when making your defensive decisions; defending your life is one thing, but if you do harm to somebody in a situation that would otherwise be illegal, soon the emergency will be over with, law enforcement will resume and you could be held accountable for your actions.”

Hayes is planning on conducting a series of emergency preparedness classes in the Houlton area through Spring.

The Aroostook Amateur Radio Association meets at 6:30pm on the first Thursday of every month at NMCC. For more information about Amateur Radio, go to, or call club president, Ivan Shapiro at 476-0000.



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