Teamwork In Prepping

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There is a great fallacy in some circles that the lone wolf is the person who will have the greatest chance of survival if things ever go downhill. Being prepared for any level of disaster or emergency is definitely something that should be a family, group or team effort. One way to look at this is to equate the survival of a group versus individual survival as a baseball game in which one team is complete and the other team has a pitcher that has to cover the outfield, too. This is not only impractical but would completely exhaust the pitcher in a short amount of time. So what does this mean from a preparedness perspective for you?

Get Your Team On Board

In many families or groups, a small percentage of the group can be considered dedicated preppers. There may be only one person who fits the bill. Others could be either half-hearted in their efforts or even all-out resistant to the idea of preparing for disaster. As it was once relayed to me, “If everyone else is unprepared, too, we will fit right in.” It seems that it has become clearer in recent years that if individuals do not prepare themselves, no one else is going to come take care of them, at least for a period of time. So what can be done about this? How do you get others on board with preparedness planning?

There is certainly no single answer to this question; but from my experience, the best approach to take is to be open and honest and help those who are important to you see how preparedness matters so much to you, your family and your inner circle. If you are truly important to your family, friends and community members, they will seriously consider what you have to say.

If you are a lone wolf type, take into consideration finding some like-minded people who are in close proximity to you so that if there is an emergency or disaster situation, you are not forced to go at it alone.

Select A Group Of Skills Everyone Will Master

In almost any organization there are core skills that every member of the team must know. In an office it might be how to use the copier. Every mechanic knows how to change the oil in a car. There are also universal skills that every member of a team that is preparing for survival should know. The only exception would be those who are not of an appropriate age, lack the capability or do not possess the maturity for certain tasks. Examples of these mandatory skills could be:

  • Marksmanship: How to properly fire, clean and maintain a gun.
  • Cooking: How to prepare a meal for an individual or the group.
  • Communication: Using a CB or walkabout radio to communicate.
  • Animal husbandry: How to milk a cow or collect the eggs from the hens every day.
  • First aid: How to care for an injured or sick person.
  • Gardening: How to properly water and harvest fruits and vegetables.
  • Firefighting: How to properly use a fire extinguisher.

While this concept may seem far-fetched to some, there are many things that can reasonably be expected from almost anyone. Even a 3-year-old can be taught to throw sawdust on top of the pile in the composting toilet, for example.

Determine Roles And Responsibilities

Each person in the group should have a primary and secondary responsibility or specialized skill when possible. If your group has two people, the situation may dictate otherwise. But in a normal family-size unit of two adults and at least two children, this should be feasible. And if you are part of a larger group of families, this is definitely doable. In fact, once primary and secondary roles have been mastered in a larger group, then the group should work on cross-training in each other’s roles as well as taking on the responsibility of learning new skills.

Examples of potential individual roles/responsibilities include:

  • Security.
  • Power.
  • Water.
  • Food.
  • Medical.
  • Communications.
  • Maintenance.
  • Logistics.
  • Sanitation.
  • Gardening.

Of course, this is not an all-inclusive list. It does cover some of the major areas and systems of support that are an area of concern in a survival situation. The roles that must be assumed will depend on the capabilities and systems that are available to your group. To avoid burnout among the group in performing routine chores and tasks, a “duty roster” or rotational schedule of these tasks could be established to assign different ongoing responsibilities to team members.

In addition to determining who will do what, it is valuable to select a leader to oversee the command and control of a group. For a family this leader will likely be the dominant parent. A group that is not a family should likely look to who the most natural leader is, who is the most experienced in managing tasks and people, or perhaps even who is the most liked person in the group.

Discuss What To Do If Something Does Go Wrong

If one person’s role within the group is to be in charge of the generator and emergency power systems and that person is ill, then what will the group do? These types of situations need to be discussed and alternate plans need to be made to address such problems. This is where secondary responsibilities and cross-training come into play. The subject matter expert in each area will assist the group by teaching his craft to an apprentice.

If the size of your family or group dictates one person taking on every responsibility, this is where strategic partnerships and community building comes into play.  No one person can do everything. Sometimes, it is better to rely on a trustworthy member of your community or inner circle than to try to be the jack-of-all-trades. A prime example where networking is invaluable would be dealing with a downed tree. It is great to know how to cut up a tree with a chain saw. This is a valuable skill to have, but it is not on the same level as trying to remove a tree that has fallen on top of your garage. Taking on this task without the specialized skill necessary could easily wind up getting someone seriously injured or even killed.

Document, Document, Document

As roles are determined, individuals should update the group documentation or create this collection of documentation. This is a great way to get your survival documentation updated and not put the burden all on one person. Each person takes a folder, binder, journal, etc. and compiles all the information he can about his responsibilities and how they fit into the group. This binder should include manuals/operator guides for any pertinent equipment, standard operating procedures, decision points for bugging out or other key events, expansion plans and ways to deal with changes in group size or locations, etc.

There is certainly much more that goes into making sure that your family or group is prepared to appropriately react to an emergency or disaster, but hopefully this serves as grease to help get the wheels turning. The team approach is necessary, and it certainly eases the burden of preparing that is on the group leader or head of household. Lastly, keep in mind that in order to remain effective, a team should always play to its strengths, maintain balance, operate under common goals or a vision, and communicate openly and honestly.

–Tom Miller

Personal Liberty

Thomas Miller

lives with his wife and three sons in the Northeastern quadrant of the United States. He has completed countless hours of advanced training in both clinical and trauma medicine and is a Nationally Registered Emergency Medical Technician. Tom has also completed several courses in disaster and emergency planning/management as well as hazardous materials handler and transport certification. He graduated with honors from American Military University with an Associate of Arts in Real Estate Studies.Tom is a U.S. Army combat veteran who served with honor as a combat medic on his multiple overseas tours during the Global War on Terror. During his time in the Army, Tom became an expert in the use of several weapons (including long guns, sidearms and improvised weaponry) and obtained competence with many other weapon systems, including foreign firearms. The Army also afforded Tom the opportunity to become proficienct in the driving and operation of several different vehicles from Humvees to heavy trucks and tracked vehicles.If there happens to be any free time available, Tom can be found sharing his passion for fishing with his sons, working on a project in the wood shop, tending to the garden or trying to maintain some resemblance of physical fitness. Tom's other writings can be viewed on his blog, The Prepared Ninja, at www.thepreparedninja.com. If you are on Twitter, Tom can be followed on the handle @preparedninja.

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