Melissa J. Nixon, DVM
If you plan to work the frontline (Roadblock to Staging):
1. Clothes should be of high cotton content, no polyester. If working a fire incident, wear long pants, long sleeve shirt, and cotton bandana for your face. Remember to never cover your face with a wet bandana during a fire or you'll suffer steam burns! Keep the bandana dry. In smoke, always breathe through your nose and remember that the stuffier your nose, the safer your lungs will be, so try not to blow your nose until you are out of the thick smoke. Remember smoke inhalation is a significant cause of death or disability in those brought out of a fire zone. If you are working a flood, be sure you have leak proof rubber waders to protect your body from floodwaters, and if entering buildings please check whether you should be using a respirator to protect from mold and other toxins. Remember long term skin and lung problems are significant risks.
3. Heavy-duty leather shoes or boots with synthetic vibram soles. There are pros and cons of steel toes, ultimately it is up to you, but hey the myth busters TV program claims the steel toes will not smash your toes if something falls on them and thus you are better off wearing steel toes than not. I have had a lot of horses and cattle tap dance on my toes and never had a steel toe cave in yet.
4. Eye goggles.
5. Gloves: leather for critter handling, latex for human and contaminant handling.
6. Valid driver's license, proof of medical and vehicle insurance, and your official disaster service worker picture ID.
7. Current copy of Thomas Brothers map book for our county area if this is a local response. If you have GPS equipment, laptop, cell phone, CB, HAM radio, bullhorn, or other such goodies you are willing to use towards the response effort, bring those too. Remember to bring any appropriate batteries or chargers too. Label them clearly with your name and phone number, but do not bring something you cannot stand to lose.
8. Personal medications and health needs. However, if you have a significant health problem, please rethink your goals and consider work at the staging area or housing facility rather than the frontline!
9. Drinking water and snacks. Remember - you need to be self sufficient for the first 96 hours, and we are not kidding - no caterers hidden in the wings.
10. Your steno notebook, pens, pencil, penknife or pencil sharpener.
11. Your ARG T-shirt, and if you hold a position on the command tree, the nametag for that position. Your pager if you have been issued one and its charger.
Do Not Wear Orange, you might just be bundled up and returned to the CDF prisoner area with the rest of the prison crew! Orange is their color, and anyone wearing orange will be confined first and questioned later.
Stuff that is nice to have:
1. Change of clothes. Remember, you can never have too many pairs of clean, dry socks.
2. Toiletries, toilet paper, Kleenex, two week supply of medication.
3. Eye drops, pepto bismol, ibuprofen, antihistamine, cough syrup, sunscreen, tick and mosquito repellant.
4. Towel, washrag, soap, TECNU cleaner, TECNU preventative for those of you who itch at the mere sight of poison oak.
5. Sleeping bag, ground cloth, blanket, pillow, tent. Of course, if you want to bring your camper, trailer, or campsite equipment, you will have plenty of grateful visitors.
6. Snacks, lots of drinking water and a smaller carry-along bottle, food for yourself for the first 96 hours, mug, sodas, juice, coffee. Remember, we are independent of outside help for four days and possibly longer in a major incident (you know, like Hurricane Katrina)!!
7. Jacket, hat, extra ARG t-shirts, sunglasses.
8. Flashlights, batteries, extra batteries, lanterns and fuel.
9. Ice chests, ice.
10. Generators, extension cords, fuel for generator, lights to run off generators.
11. Solar panels and batteries if you have portables.
12. Camping tables, folding chairs, cots, solar showers, porta-potties, camp stoves.
13. Camera - digital, slide film, print film, instant Polaroid. Video cameras. We like to document as much as we can, so please help.
14. Scanner, portable radio, portable TV, and batteries to power them. Bring charge cords too in case we have generators.
First Aid kit for humans:
1. Latex gloves.
2. CPR mask.
3. Assorted band-aids, gauze squares, gauze rolls, bandage tape.
4. Bar soap, washcloth, Betadine wipes, antibiotic ointment.
5. Ace bandages (4", 3", 2"), chemical ice pack, saline - the squirt bottle for rinsing contact lenses can be used to flush eye or wound.
6. Flashlight, heavy-duty scissors, plastic or wire splints for fingers, arms, legs.
7. Bottle of water or small bucket, small towel (not paper).
8. Wide bandage tape, bulky bandage - something similar to an equine leg quilt, rubber strip tourniquet.
9. A word about snakes - venomous rattlesnakes are a reality in our area. Current wisdom does not support either the use of tourniquets above a snakebite nor slicing and sucking of the wound. Try to keep the patient quiet and get them to medical help as soon as possible. It is an emergency, so if expedient to do so ask for help from other agencies with transport, communication, or emergency medical aid. If you can safely do so, kill the snake and bring the body with you in a pillowcase or other safe container for accurate identification. Antitoxin is available but species of the snake is important. Be aware that fires and floods bring snakes out of hiding; many venomous snakes including our rattlers swim very well.
Things we would love to borrow, as long as you won't be heartbroken if they are lost. Put your name and phone number on everything.
1. Shovels, rakes, apple pickers, brooms, wheelbarrows.
2. Halters, lead ropes, water and feed buckets, horse blankets.
3. Portable fencing.
4. Airline-style kennels, especially the larger sizes. Cages.
5. Chain leashes for walking, chain tethers or metal cables covered in plastic for pooches.
6. Tree protectors, tie loops, very long (25', 50', 100') thick ropes for high lines.
7. Hay nets.
8. Outside, heavy-duty extension cords. Fans, heaters.
9. Blankets, towels for dog/cat beds.
10. New small boxes for kitty litter boxes (do not bring used cat boxes please).
How to score extra points with co-workers:
1. Bring hot coffee, hot water, tea bags, instant cocoa, sugar, cream when you come on shift.
2. Bring fresh fruit, sandwiches, maybe some junk like chips and cookies.
3. Call the command post phone person to see if there's anything else we need that you could bring in when you report for work.
4. Cold drinks - soda, juice, and bottled water - plus more ice.
5. Arrive calm, cheerful, and willing for your assigned work shift.
Other stuff that's always handy:
1. Bolt cutters, wire cutters, pliers, wrenches, screwdrivers, hammers, heavy tacks.
2. Tow chains, battery jumper cables, highway flares, traffic cones, sawhorses, traffic barriers, portable nylon mesh security fencing.
3. Feed: adult maintenance dog, cat, pig chow; grass or oat hay. Do NOT bring grass/alfalfa mix with more than 20% alfalfa, or alfalfa.
4. Pillow cases. These can be used as carriers for kitties, snakes, and a few other critters if we run out of the more stylish airline style carriers.
Make a list here of stuff we SHOULD have had, or needed more of - bring that stuff next time. You should always bring your manual to debriefings, by the way, so you can share the notes you have made in the margin - and whatever has ended up on this list here.