Emergency Management (1 of 8)

News alert! There is a deadly virus that is bringing people back to life!!! The Zombie Apocalypse is upon us!!! What do we do? We throw our hands up in the air and run around in circle screaming!!!!! No wait I have “prepped” for this; I have food stored, ammo stashes, fuel and water stockpiled.  I will be just fine, “relax, breathe, very important to remember breathe, in through nose out through mouth” or will I…


The dramatization above is what so many in our society have been planning for, some even dreaming about, and others praying for. What are we talking about? Well if you can’t guess, we have come to call this emergency preparedness, or “prepping.” In my mind it should be called Emergency Management. Emergency Management is exactly what the name implies, it is management of an emergency. Believe it or not prepping is just one of piece of the process needed to manage any and ALL emergencies. With proper management you will know the what, when, where, why, and how of any hazard you face. We will walk down this path together and shed light on the other processes needed to make it through.

So what is this thing Emergency Management? By definition it is an All Hazards approach to whatever hazards come your way. An All Hazards approach means that we approach every hazard in the same way, we manage the hazards differently according to the event but use the same processes in all. I break them down into four categories, I challenge you to find an emergency that doesn’t fit into one these four:

Technological Events

The great thing about Emergency Management is that no matter what is coming, using an All Hazards approach, I will have a plan in place that will see me through. Specifically, the four phases of Emergency Management:


We will explore how they all work together to manage all types of Hazards. Also, we will look at how the same basic concerns in Outdoor Self-Reliance apply to an all hazards approach in emergency management.

So where to begin? To find that answer we have to think about what are the most important things that keep us alive. Our ability to manage and regulate our bodies. Chances are you have heard of the Rule of Threes. In most cases we can survive three weeks (or much longer) without food, three days without water, 3 hours without shelter, and three minutes without air. I also believe that we won’t live three seconds without hope.

The thing so many of us fail to see is that all of these rules are connected. We need ALL of these to live;  take one away, and well, very soon we just become a zombie. So as we begin, we will use these Rule of Threes as our baseline of what and how we need to do things.

To regulate our bodies, we need AIR to create energy for processes essential to walking, thinking, digestion, etc. WATER also helps maintain our bodies in breathing, digestion, circulation, flushing out toxins and so much more. We are in a battle to continue its flow into our bodies, don’t hydrate properly and in time we will, well,  become zombies.

SHELTER (or clothing) is another way we regulate our bodies by trapping the heat they make.  And they make that heat from FOOD; the fuel our bodies need for walking, thinking, digestion, to gain nutrients and minerals to make hormones, build bones, and regulate our heartbeat. Go without food, and well you guessed it we become zombies, no wait zombies eat!!!

I add HOPE into the mix because without it, we lose our will to live and our ability to manage our fear. And fear brings about a little hormone called Adrenaline; left uncontrolled, it will quickly shut down our ability to think. Without the ability to think and reason, we do not make good decisions that affect our abilities to manage and regulate our bodies.

As we look at the four processes below keep each of these rules in the forefront of your mind. Applying them to an all hazards approach in emergency management. By the way, did you notice that they did many of the same things, and that each one is important?

So, what is mitigation? The effort to reduce loss of life and property by lessening the impact of disasters.  Boy is this easy!  I just wrap myself in plastic bubble wrap and stay away from everything and everyone. Whew… No wait that doesn’t work for me.  I don’t know about you but I have to pop the bubble wrap. I better come up with another idea for this. In my opinion the best way to mitigate a disaster is to plan for it, educate myself on the skills I need to regulate my body, to learn how to maintain my Rule of Threes, and train for those rules.

I’ve heard it said before “The more I sweat the less I bleed.” Meaning the more I train the less I hurt in a real world event. I live in a controlled environment, I wear clothes for the season I’m in, I study and take classes on how I regulate and maintain my rule of threes. Guess what, taking an outdoor living skill class teaches us the same things. If I manage my rules I am better, I am prepared for whatever hazards come my way.

Preparedness is putting the things together that I will need to maintain my rules. Many of us do a great job of this. We stockpile all kinds of things; we have STUFF! Dont ask me where my stuff is, it is mine!! Just make sure that you also take the time to write down a plan of action for what, who, when, where, and how you will use your stuff. Think back to your grade school days…a Tornado is coming, where do you go? I bet everyone thought… go into the hallway and put my head between my knees.  Maybe you even thought that if this is real, I can kiss my butt goodbye! Is this because we all graduated yesterday?  No, we remember the plan because we did it over and over again for years!

The same should go for a family plan. When was the last time you got up at 0300 and set off the fire alarm to see how you and yours responded. We fail so many times to not train how we fight. We collect STUFF, but many never train on its use. We train everyday at work, fire drills, bomb threats and so on. Why don’t we train at home where it matters the most?

It breaks my heart that we spend so much time gathering stuff and so little on the plan itself. All the stuff in the world will not keep the zombies away if you don’t know how to use it, where it is, when to use, what to use, or who is going to use the stuff because you forgot to prepare the most important thing, YOUR MIND.

Case in point, how many of you have a National Weather Service weather radio? Or are you like the masses who get their weather off of TV, internet, and mobile phones? Why are you getting your information second hand?

Response is how and what we do when the zombies are at our doors. It is the event that we have mitigated, prepared for and is now here. Your mitigation and preparedness (including mental) will dictate your response to most hazards.

Remember that everyone in the world responds initially the same to an emergency, a RECOGNITION PHASE (shock, disbelief, etc.). It is those that have trained and planned before hand that usually move through this phase quickly (including body reactions: blood pressure, heart rate, hormones, etc.) and ADAPT with an appropriate response or action (and not fainting). It is this quick movement that saves us. Remember that those same things will decide if you just survive the event or manage the event. I want to manage what comes my way.

In my plan I also need a Recovery. I should start the second the response begins to figure out when it is going to end and how I can get back to my regularly scheduled program. Once I have recovered, I need to see what in my plan worked well and what I should improve on. This may mean more mitigation and more preparedness. YES!! I get to buy more stuff!!! I should take the lessons I learned and apply them to my plan. Think of your plan as a living organism, it should be growing and changing all the time.

I know you are thinking, wow this just changed my life!! One last thing and I will let you GET OUT THERE and do what you do. We talked about an All Hazards approach to events, but which events should I plan to manage? I look at where I live and the historical data of what types of disasters have happened in the last ten years for my area. For instance, where I’m from, severe weather ranks the highest;  tornadoes and hurricanes are most prevalent. So, I manage for those events. In doing so I manage my Rule of Threes, and as such, I am prepared for many other events.

By knowing the five highest occurring events in your area you know what to learn to manage. Living in the Deep South, I don’t plan on a Snow Storm, however the same supplies I use for a hurricane will work for one anyway. We will cover this in some detail with a Hazards Vulnerability Assessment (you can do) in the next article.  The beauty of Emergency Management is that no matter what comes my way, I can manage the event keeping my rules in the forefront of my mind.

Peeked your interest? Join me as we head down this road of Emergency Management in upcoming articles. As I like to say around the campfire, GET OUT THERE!!

Finally, here are a list of suggest resources…




Charles Winchester earned a Bachelors in Criminal Justice and Masters in Emergency Management.  He is a Certified Emergency Management Coordinator, managing four Hospitals, five dialysis facilities, five nursing homes, twenty eight doctor offices and Urgent Care facilities. He is a trained Wilderness EMT and Certified American Red Cross First Aid instructor. Since the 90’s, he has been involved in BSA as a Cubmaster, Scoutmaster, Troop Master, and Event Coordinator & Trainer on a council wide level. Retired after ten years as a state law enforcement officer, he has held POST certifications in use of force and firearms training. In addition, he has successfully managed several restaurants and a southern cuisine catering service.  A founder of Woodsmoke Camping Company, Chuck is your chef if you want to enjoy food the way it was intended, over the open fire and cast iron. Things learned together, has always been the greatest learning.  Facebook


About Charles Winchester

Chuck Winchester holds a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice and Masters in Emergency Management. A Certified Emergency Management Coordinator, he is also a Wilderness EMT and Certified American Heart Association instructor in First Aid, CPR, and AED. As a retired Law Enforcement Officer he has been POST certified in Use of Force and Firearms Instruction. Since the early 90’s, he has been involved in the Boys Scouts of America as a Cubmaster, Scoutmaster, Troop Master, Area Council Event Coordinator, Area Council Trainer and an instructor for BSA in outdoor living skills. A master of outdoor cuisine, Chuck has successfully been catering for over 15 years and is certified in safe food handling by the State of Georgia. Blessed to be married to his soul mate, he has enjoyed raising his five kids and sharing his knowledge with them and others.

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