Jason Hartman talks with Geoffrey Simmons about the CERTS program and emergency preparedness. More at: http://holisticsurvival.com/category/audio-podcast/. Have you thought about the following questions lately?
1. Who are CERTS?
2. Are most people prepared? You do you think they were as disasters around the world seem to appear
on nightly news every day.
3. What basic preparation do people need to have around their home for preparedness? At school? At
4. What are the important drills in preparation?
5. What should your children know?
6. What about people with pets, what should they do?
7. How does one know to shelter-in-place versus evacuate? And how does a person prepare for either
8. What about important papers, photos, family heirlooms?
9. Do you have a list of important Do’s and Don’ts?
10. Where can I get more information and/or training?
Geoffrey Simmons (born 1943) is a medical doctor, author, lecturer, trainer and intelligent design advocate in Eugene, Oregon. He has a BS in biology from the University of Illinois and received an M.D. from the University of Illinois Medical School in 1969. He is a doctor of internal medicine for the Peacehealth Medical Group in Eugene, boarded in internal medicine and disaster medicine.
Simmons is a fellow at the Center for Science and Culture, part of the Discovery Institute. In early 2006 Physicians and Surgeons for Scientific Integrity, headed by Rich Akins (was not established by the Discovery Institute, but as a nonprofit anti-evolution organization). Of its activities, the PSSI held a “Doctors Doubting Darwin” rally in September, 2006. Also there was PSSI tour of Spain with the Spanish version of What Darwin didn’t know, to five cities, Barcelona, Malaga, Madird, Leon and Viga, ten lectures altogether. He has lectured on several college campuses, many churches and a few synagogues. Simmons also teaches disaster preparedness locally, regionally and nationally.
Simmons has written nine books, four fiction, two medical spoofs, and two books about creation-evolution controversy, published by a Christian publishing house and promotes intelligent design creationism. Notably in 2008 he debated evolutionary biologist PZ Myers, among many professors, on KKMS radio. He has also done other radio interviews, such as on Coast to Coast AM in 2007 and speaks at churches about intelligent design. He also lectures and teaches nationally disaster preparedness. He is Board Certified in Internal Medicine and Disaster Medicine (one of very few) and on the Board of Governors of the American Academy of Disaster Medicine. He has lectured at the IAEM and NASA. His newest book Common Sense and Disaster Preparedness will be published by the Journal of Emergency Management (JEM), Fall 2010.
Quote for the day: “Invest in places that make sense so you can afford to live in places that don’t make sense” – Jason Hartman
Start of Interview with Geoffrey Simmons
Narrator: Welcome to the Holistic Survival Show with Jason Hartman. The economic storm brewing around the world is set to spill into all aspects of our lives. Are you prepared? Where are you going to turn for the critical life skills necessary to survive and prosper? The Holistic Survival Show is your family’s insurance for a better life. Jason will teach you to think independently, to understand threats, and how to create the ultimate action plan. Sudden change or worst case scenario, you’ll be ready. Welcome to Holistic Survival, your key resource for protecting the people, places, and profits you care about in uncertain times. Ladies and gentleman, your host Jason Hartman.
Jason Hartman: Welcome to the Holistic Survival Show. This is Jason Hartman, where we talk about protecting the people, places, and profits you care about in uncertain times. Today we are going to talk one more time. I know you can’t really talk about this topic too much, about disaster preparedness and the SERTS program. And our guest is a fascinating guy. He’s done a whole variety of work and just a really interesting guest. He’s a medical doctor. He’s written I think 9 books on all sorts of a variety of topics, a real renaissance man, so I think you’ll enjoy that. And I think our next show we’re going to do something about identity protection, a really interesting take on it. The author, John Sileo, who authored a book entitled Privacy Means Profit and how to prevent identity theft and actually increase or at least protect your bottom line. That will be interesting as well and we’ll have that, I think that will be our next show, number 39. But let’s get on with disaster preparedness, kind of taken to the next level, and welcome our guest. And we will be back with that in just less than 60 seconds.
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Jason Hartman: It’s my pleasure to welcome Geoffrey Simmons to the show. He’s the author of Common Sense and Disaster Preparedness. And he is an expert in all sorts of preparedness for various types of emergencies and disaster situations. And it’s great to have him here to talk about how to be prepared. Jeff, welcome.
Geoffrey Simmons: Thanks for having me.
Jason Hartman: My pleasure. So tell us, first of all, how you came to be interested in this topic and what it’s all about?
Geoffrey Simmons: Yeah. Well, I was president of a local medical society. And when 9/11 happened and we were meeting shortly thereafter to plan our next year with fundraising, education, the usual things the medical societies do, this 800 pound gorilla was sitting on the table. Preparedness, look what happened in New York and our town, I live in Eugene, Oregon. We didn’t know of much being done. Looking into it and looking back, a lot had been done in lots of places, but our town hadn’t. And so I had gotten involved with something called the medical reserve core which is essentially doctors responding when hospitals have been knocked out and reorganizing elsewhere in the town to help people who have been injured when there’s been a disaster. But I learned about CERTS, which is Community Emergency Response Teams, which are nationwide, actually now they’re international. And these are neighbors helping neighbors and they’re neighbors trained to help when first responders can’t come or are delayed. And it’s a very common scenario in big disasters. New Orleans is a classic example, but there’s numerous earthquakes, hurricanes and bomb explosions and a whole host of stuff where first responders are just overwhelmed. And so people need to know how to put out certain kinds of fires and need to know how to get victims out of rubble without getting themselves hurt. They need to know how to do safe light search and rescue. They need to know how to do first aid with cardboard and tape. I mean, have a first aid kit or a doctor or nurse along with them, how to stabilize somebody, to work in pairs, how to know what’s safe, what isn’t, what’s smart, what isn’t. I mean in the Oklahoma City bombing, a lot of people were right next to the building and some were hurt because the parts of the building were coming down. We train people how far to stay away. Same thing with the World Trade Center where they were hurt with jumpers. And so we teach a ton of basics, starting with the obvious simple stuff that most people know and that’s to have enough food and water around and to keep track of it and trade it out so it’s always current. So the standard recommendation of course would be 72 hours of food and 72 hours of water. But most of us can make it a lot longer without the food. It’s the water that becomes important. And that also hinges on the ambient temperature. I mean if you’re in a humid, hot area you might need more. If you’re ill, you might need more. Interesting enough with some of the disasters we’re seeing, some of those rules are holding up. Some people can make it a lot longer. But the standard still is 72 hours of each. And then we also teach people other things about preparedness, having a cell phone. I mean some folks still don’t have cell phones to call 911. Some people who do have cell phones don’t have who to contact in an emergency. If you’re knocked out, we teach people to have something, like ICE. They call it ICE, that’s In Case of Emergency. All paramedics know that. Or just have mom or dad, so they know who of the 45 contacts who they can contact. And we teach people to always have two exits wherever they are because you never know if you’re at a fire which one might be blocked. So always have two exits. And it’s not a bad idea sometimes to be sure that they work as we noticed in the Rhode Island nightclub fire a few years back.
Jason Hartman: I remember that.
Geoffrey Simmons: It was awful. But they say that they could have saved about 65% of the people who died if they had decided to leave when the fire started. They all kind of were either dazed or thought it was all part of the show. And so we teach people to get out. There’s a lot of good books about the fine line between panic and making a quick decision. And a lot of folks have died through the years of ferry boats and flipping over and planes crashing because some people go into what they call brain lock or brain freeze. They just go into this dazed look of disbelief and denial and then they go into this decision mode. And by the time they get to making a move, they’ve lost several seconds. And sometimes those several seconds are extremely important. So that’s hard to teach somebody because when a bad thing happens they’re not really thinking. But if you can teach that as a knee jerk, that helps, and we teach people what to do after the disaster happens, too, a lot of shelter information. You should know where the shelters are; listen to the radio if you don’t. And sometimes they change depending on the disaster. We teach people what to do with their pets. A lot of people won’t leave without their pets. Well, now there’s a federal law that requires states to have shelters that will take care of pets that can be kept separate. They have to be kept separate usually unless they’re guide dogs of the sort. And so you take your pets, and what you do to your pets, well, that’s a whole other science. How much food should you have? Should you have a first aid kit for them and for you? Which is also true going back to people is if you can’t afford to lose it they say secure it, in other words be able to grab it and go, because like that fire in California recently, I think it was San Bruno or a name similar to that, those folks were evacuated who are on the perimeter instantly. Well, if you got important papers, important photos, you should have it all in one place. If you have a family, have a family plan. Somebody takes the pets, somebody takes the papers, somebody takes the food and water and you all get in the car. If you’re separated, it’s happened and people are about town, mom’s at shopping or at work and dad’s out of town and the kid is at school, how do you meet up? Well, you call a relative. You all know the same relative to call out of town. I’m really rattling this off, but to get it all in is a ton. If you’re in a house fire, people have been killed and injured running back in for their kids. And we teach people to have a family plan so that everybody who evacuates, and they know which window to go out or which door to go out, they all meet up at the mailbox or the cedar tree or at the street sign or something. So everybody knows everybody’s out. And so this family plan, we teach family what kind of foods to store, which ones not to, how to protect them, because some of the foods that people store vermin will get into. Some of them will just get old and not be good. You need high calorie foods and you need it protected. And canned foods are great except for they’re hard to carry. And so you look into some lighter foods that are high calorie to be able to carry, maybe a backpack for each person in the family. We teach people what to do with fires, smoke filled room most people know to crawl low, but we make sure people know that. We know to tell people to feel the door before they open it to see if it’s hot. You don’t want to open a hot door. And we tell people to feel it with the back of their hand, not the front of their hand.
Jason Hartman: So they don’t burn it, yeah, right.
Geoffrey Simmons: Yeah, and then they can’t use their hand. So you feel it with the back of your hand. If it’s nerve gas, you go up high. Most of us aren’t going to have that.
Jason Hartman: Let me ask you a couple of questions if I may on this. First of all, I want to go back to the food question. And we’ve had a lot of people on the show that have talked about food storage and food safety and rotating food so that none of the stock gets too old. But I wanted to ask you about one thing in particular. A lot of these survivalist websites and so forth, disaster websites and various first aid kids or bug out bags have these food pills in them. It’s not really food, it’s a food substitute that’s a tiny little pill that has about a zillion calories in it. I was wondering if I could speak to those because I’ve never asked anyone about it.
Geoffrey Simmons: I’m not familiar with that. As soon as I am off the air here I will…
Jason Hartman: Check them out. I’d love to know about that.
Geoffrey Simmons: I don’t know about that. I do know there are foods that are prepped that you can mix two chemicals together on the outside of the bag and you can have a hot meal. And not only is that nice to have a hot meal, but psychologically it’s comforting as well. And their groups out there will sell you a whole backpack full. Say they’ve got two weeks’ worth, what you need to know on that scenario is that you also have to carry water and water actually is the heaviest side of all. I do not know anything about those pills but they’re a ton of high calorie candy bars, but not candy bars that one could buy. I don’t know about the pills. I’d be careful about a little pill that has high…
Jason Hartman: I’m sort of wondering if the claims are true and that’s why I asked you about it. So on the food issue, anything more on that that you want to mention and then I want to ask you about water and talk about nerve gas as well because we have not talked about that on prior shows. Anything on food and water, though, you want to mention there before we go on?
Geoffrey Simmons: On water, there’s no one way to sterilize water that works absolutely for everything. And so some experts think that if you have the time and you have the means and you have the mechanism, you should boil it and put iodine tabs in or use one of the laser sterilizers because there’s a whole bunch of viruses, a bunch of spores. There’s chemicals. And so there is no one proof, one system that works entirely, boiling, and the tabs are your easiest and the most likely to work. Water-wise, you do have to gauge that, as I mentioned, based on humidity and heat. You’re a lot better off in the cold than you are in the hot and that’s common sense. On food, it really boils down to high calorie foods and being careful that you haven’t stocked stuff that vermin…People will go to their emergency supplies and have a bag of nuts or trail mix and silatrane and find out there’s a hole in it or there’s little pellets of rat poop in the area. And so it’s a big danger. So we actually had people double seal things. We have them seal things and then in a container that is sealed as well that has a handle on it or can roll and could be moved. And think of your kids and comfort foods. There are things that just make people feel better, you know, a Fig Newton or two or an oreo. You have to keep in mind which kids. If you have little kids you may be talking about formula. And so when you’re packing your gear you need to have what your baby’s gonna need. Now that might be diapers, be a whole host of medicines. One of the things is you don’t catch in most of the books on survival and disaster preparedness which I like to tout is in my book, being an MD, is what to do about your medications. If you are cut off from your doc or any medical facility, no phones, no rode access, and what do you do about medications? If you’re in a situation where it’s hot, you’re sweating, you’re not getting enough fluids, probably the one thing you shouldn’t be doing is still taking your diuretic. And people get diuretics for blood pressure. In fact, even blood pressure medicines you might want to half the dose. This is a conversation that you can’t just take my advice. It’s the kind of conversation people should have with their doctor, especially people who are in areas where there’s likely to be a disaster, where there’s likely to be an earthquake, where there’s likely to be hurricanes, where there’s likely to be blackouts. What do I do about this medicine, those blood thinners, that need blood tests on a regular basis? And should I just skip it so I can get back to you, and a number of other medicines. So I address that and I address certain medical conditions in the book as well. As I mentioned to you before we went on the air, it’s being published by the Journal of Emergency Management. And I don’t know at this time whether it’s gonna go traditional routes or not. But I’m sure it’ll be findable sometime late fall. I try to take in the book the best that I can see in all of the books that I’ve seen. And I reviewed lots of books, lots and lots of books actually, including the cenocyte. And to be honest with you, Jason, I don’t think I’ve ever seen these pellets. It’s interesting.
Jason Hartman: You mentioned nerve gas and I thought that was interesting, scary as can be, but it sinks whereas smoke rises. So in a fire we want to be down low so we can breathe. First of all, how much warning are we gonna have to something like nerve gas? Maybe you want to talk about the attack in Japan, I think that was sarin gas if I’m not mistaken.
Geoffrey Simmons: Right. It was sarin.
Jason Hartman: What is sarin and what are the different things? What is anthrax? What are these?
Geoffrey Simmons: Some of that’s addressed in my book and some of that’s addressed in a lot of the books that are like my book. The sarin, and there’s about 5 or 6 different variations on it. Nerve gas is developed for warfare, but they’re related to pesticides that are used in fields and people sometimes die in similar ways because of overexposure to some of these pesticides. But, for the most part, they’re not used anymore. But they have a direct impact on our nerves and it’s very, very hard to reverse this. Iraq used it on Iran a couple dozen years ago. And they claim that millions were killed with it. But certainly many were killed. And there’s a medicine called Atropine which reverses it, but you almost have to take shot after shot after shot of Atropine to reverse it. If there’s a nerve gas warning, you’re not likely to get a warning like you would a hurricane’s coming to town or it’s tornado season and they’re seeing them in the next state or there’s volcano rumbling or something. You’re not gonna get any warning if it’s used. And if it’s used, your best clue are if people are collapsing around you and the thing is for simplistic terms everything goes in motion. The stomach goes in motion. They’re vomiting, they’re lacrimating, otherwise eyes are running, they’re salivating, their bowels are moving, they’re hyper and they’re collapsing. But I’ll tell you, if you have a whole bunch of people collapsing around you anyway, you should probably get out of the area and of course call 911. If there’s any chance that it could be nerve gas, go up one flight or two flights or climb a tree. The same thing with tsunamis, you go up if you can. You go up in a concrete building. Smoke, you go down. For World War I, a lot of soldiers were killed because the Germans had mustard gas which would creep along the ground a foot or two high and then sink into the fox holes. And so all the guys who were in fox holes, which was the standard procedure in those days, had terrible consequences. Most people don’t think that we’re gonna get hit like Tokyo was, but you never know. They had 5000 people who were affected. But, in fact, the interesting thing about the Tokyo attack is that people who were down and people who did CPR on them actually got poisoned with the gas also, because they were doing mouth to mouth and the gas comes back out and affects…So you don’t do mouth to mouth. These people gas off, and that’s a term, gas off, and in fact a lot of medical people were badly hurt even in that hospital that was overwhelmed because they had so many people who they came there, they had to shift over to the chapel. Well, it turns out the chapel had no windows. So they had all these victims gassing off and then they had nurses and doctors who are dropping. And some of them ended up in the ICU. [0:17:26.3] is a bad character. I mean, for the most part, ventilate a room or an area. And another thing that’s interesting about disasters is CPR has changed drastically in the last 6 months. There’s major articles.
Jason Hartman: I heard that. Yeah, tell us about that.
Geoffrey Simmons: There’s major articles now saying you don’t really have to do mouth to mouth for one. For two, the mouth to mouth thing is so prohibited to people, so distasteful that they just won’t do anything. Well, it turns out that the 911 operators now are just telling people to pound almost the press almost as fast as they can, at least 100 times a minute. And the thinking is that there’s enough oxygen in the blood stream already, and indeed there’s evidence to support that. There was some place in Arizona I think who decided to do mouth to mouth or bag and not bag or something along that line. The people without the mouth to mouth had like a 20% more chance of survival. And so it got published and it got looked at and it’s in the process of changing. Now, is it official? No. So anybody who’s listening to me, you have to know the official CPR still is mouth to mouth, but that is changing, and it is certainly better to do the fast chest compressions than to do nothing.
Jason Hartman: Good point. So other kinds of disasters in terms of either biological or chemical attack, if you have anything else to say about that, I think people would like to know terrorism is what we’re really talking about there.
Geoffrey Simmons: The thing with water being poisoned is pretty unlikely. It takes such huge volumes. It’s so diluted out that most experts don’t think that we’re gonna have like a mass casualty incident with water in any big city.
Jason Hartman: What about crop dusting and things like that over stadiums? I mean I guess that’s a lot harder to do than it sounds, right?
Geoffrey Simmons: That’s the nerve gas kind of thing. And that stuff they’re watching now, but they weren’t watching before. It’s always a risk. We have so many private planes and we have so many vehicles to have this, putting in an air conditioning unit in a sky rise can cause havoc in the one building. Most people think that we’re going to have mostly explosive devices like we’re seeing, sometimes huge, but mostly explosive devices because those are the easiest to work with. And the biological stuff still is lingering out there that, anthrax, they never solved who did it, and that could happen again. It went through the US mails. Look what happened with these packages that almost made it to the two synagogues in Chicago, although what I read today it sounds like they were timed as such that they may have gone off in the planes before they even got there. And so the explosives are the main thing. And there’s not much you can do if you’re on a plane that has an explosive device that goes off. There are a few things. There are a lot of interesting books out there. There’s a few things that you can increase your survival on planes that crash. And not only do you have to like fly every day for 150,000 years before you’ll statistically have that crash so there really isn’t a worry, that there’s some studies, and people argued front/back…things like that. But there does seem to be some evidence that if you sit within 5 rows of an exit door and you sit on an aisle and you have a plan, and you’re not one of those people that go into brain lock, I mean you have to train yourself not to do that, you have a reasonable chance, especially if somebody is at that exit door who will respond. Sometimes we end up with a very heavy set person or a slow moving person or somebody who’s frozen in their seat, and usually what you see with the stewardesses, when you get on the plane, everybody thinks that they’re greeting them, which they are, but they’re also looking you over as to what kind of help you could be, and should you be in one of those exit seats, and who might be a problem if there’s a disaster. They’re trained to look at you as you’re coming on and weigh what your benefits or your risks are as you come on board.
Jason Hartman: Oh, that’s interesting. Yeah, I never knew that. I would think nowadays they’d be looking for terrorists on looking them over, but for usefulness is what you’re talking about, usefulness in survival situations.
Geoffrey Simmons: Right. They assume that’s been taken care of.
Jason Hartman: By security.
Geoffrey Simmons: I mean, I think that’s always being watched everywhere. But from my reading and my training is they assume most of that’s been taken care of already. What they’re looking for now is, like that macho guy who’s 6’2”-6’3” who used to play on the football team a few years ago, and I’m being stereotypic but a guy who’s strong, who’s young, who’s gonna be able to rip that door open and help people get out and that type of person…
Jason Hartman: That guy might go running for the hills, though. You never know. Right, I hear you. So on that exit row thing, I find that interesting because they used to always say you’re better off sitting in the back of the plane, some say right over the wing. But, gosh, that air bus accident that just happened with the engine blowing up, I don’t know that near the wing is that good a decision. Now, it didn’t matter in that particular instance, but it seems like you got all the fuel there.
Geoffrey Simmons: Survivor Club. And it talks about all the studies and there’s no clear cut seat to sit in because every action’s a little different.
Jason Hartman: It’s different, yeah. But near an exit row statistically is definitely helpful.
Geoffrey Simmons: And within 5 rows of the exit door.
Jason Hartman: One thing I want to ask you, when it comes back to the home or the office, if disaster strikes say when one is at home, how do they make the stay or go decision? Sometimes it’s best to just hold up in your house, but sometimes it’s better to leave. How do you know?
Geoffrey Simmons: Well, it’s not always easy. I mean the best answer I can give you is listen to what the authorities tell you on the emergency alert system which would be on an AM radio station, so have a radio that’s battery dependent, not plug in, and listen to what they’re telling you. But you also have to pay attention to things like gridlock because the people who left Houston for a hurricane, I think it was Rita, it was the one that followed Katrina, they got into gridlock and a lot of them ran out of gas. And the grocery stores were closed or empty and the gas stations were closed. And so you can get yourself in trouble. But for the most part, the experts are supposed to know, authorities are supposed to know what your best shot is and to stay put or not. Getting in your car and driving through a toxic plume because there’s been a hazmat incident is a lot more dangerous than going into the inner room of your home, like a bathroom, and taping up the doors and any other vents and staying put for 6 or 8 hours. And so one has to know what the incident was, where it was, how close it was. You have to know what the authorities are saying. It’s very hard to know, when you’re by yourself, kind of isolated or your family, so you are authority dependent. And you have to trust them. There’s a number of people at St. Helens which is the volcano that went off near us here years ago who didn’t buy into the danger and stayed put and they’re no longer with us. And it happens with hurricanes as well. And then there’s a bunch of examples of hurricane folks who stay put and say I’ve always been here and they do fine. I would always side with what the authorities are telling me.
Jason Hartman: Any last tips in closing? We’ve got to wrap up but any last thoughts, maybe some dos and don’ts if you have any more of those you want to mention?
Geoffrey Simmons: Yeah, always have a safe haven and have a backup safe haven. When in doubt, get out. Go on FEMA.gov. That’s the best piece of advice I can give anybody. FEMA.gov and it’ll tell you. And you can pick your disaster du jour, whatever affects your neck of the woods. And you can learn about food storage and food preparation. You’ll learn about how to protect your home, what to do if it’s a flooding area, FEMA.gov, and you can drill down. That’s the best words I can give you.
Jason Hartman: Good. Good advice. Tell people where they can get the book. The title, again, common sense and disaster preparedness. I know it’s not out yet.
Geoffrey Simmons: Yes, common sense and disaster preparedness. It’s being published by the journal of emergency management, abbreviated JEM. And you might email them or just watch their website or something. It’s due out roughly late November, early December, but it’s in production and I can’t give a firm date.
Jason Hartman: Good stuff. Well, Jeff Simmons, thank you so much for joining us today, and thanks for the insights on disaster preparedness, a very important topic obviously. Take care.
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Transcribed by Ralph