Change of Plans: Evaluating Emergencies in the Momment

Preparedness is by definition a lot of planning. There is tons of action in there as well, but even the actions taken to prepare as based on plans of some kind. I have plans for disaster readiness, my bug out plan, my get home plan and I have more day to day plans, my financial plan comes to mind. A self-reliant lifestyle also needs planning, failing to predict what will be necessary leads to being caught off guard, being caught off guard leads to dependence.

Today I made a lot of plans. I had my whole day planned out. I knew what order I was going to do everything and it was going to work out great. Then one of Murphy’s Laws kicked in, if you want a surprise then make concrete plans. Today we scheduled to install a new flowmeter. Not a huge job but it still takes 6 hours or so. So we load up the trucks and drive 30 minuted to the site and and hour later, I get called back to the water treatment plant to receive a shipment of sodium hypochlorite. So I return, and receive the shipment. Just to return back to the flowmeter to finish the job. But wait, it goes on. In the afternoon I needed to adjust a lagoon discharge to 300 liters per second, I wont go into details but this number would have been the perfect piece of a puzzle. When I got there the maximum I could get was 143.7 liters per second. The valve was fully open, there were no more adjustments to be made. This lead to a total reevaluation of our lagoon discharge plan, something I didn’t want to do. While all my plans got changed at work, I was looking forward to writing my blog entry, something I do to relax. When I sat down to write, all my planned topics were drawing blanks in my mind. Zero inspiration was coming to me. Which lead me here, to this article.

Since plans can change so easily it got me thinking about my disaster readiness plans. And then it hit me. I hadn’t been planning my disaster response this whole time. I was building guiding principles, so that in the moment, with all the specifics of the emergency confronting me I will be able to make the BEST decision as I see it. I hadn’t realized how much I had picked up from writing the standard operating procedures at work. The largest section of the SOPs deal with how to handle things that go wrong. In general, they follow this formula, isolate broken section, replace or repair broken section, disinfect repaired area (it is a water treatment plant after all), restore to normal operation and monitor results. The specifics of each repair are always different. To literally plan for everything that can break is next to impossible. But to train myself to trouble shoot a repair is possible and covers almost every type of repair.

How can I troubleshoot an emergency or a disaster? Let’s take the example of extreme weather. Storms have trajectories, they are moving and they are somewhat predictable and mistakes in predictions are frequent enough to make me not believe ABSOLUTELY every prediction. So, a hurricane is coming towards my home. Is it projected to make landfall exactly over my town? Or will it be 50 or 100 miles away? This and the severity of the storm are the two biggest pieces of information I consider before I decide to stay put or bug out. Each storm is different but the decision process remains the same. A big difference between a plan/sticking to it and having guiding principles is that decisions aren’t always final. Using the hurricane example, I decide to bug out and I follow my planned route, until it becomes impassible. I could have two or three backup routes, or I could have two or three methods of navigation and decide my route in the moment. In reality it is probably best to combine the two and have multiple planned routes, and a willingness to change them when necessary. Sometimes “good plans” are just bad ideas in disguise and they need to be rooted out and discarded, like weeding a garden. I like my plans to pass through the anvils of success, meaning when put to the test they work as predicted. If the plan only works once, it WAS a good plan and now it’s a bad plan and I need a new one.
I am talking about practicing making and executing plans, on the fly, and instead of taking weeks or months; only taking minutes. These minutes could be vital to my survival.


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