Recon Training

Last night was Recon training at Civil Defense. Very interesting! We learned about the TCHARD priority tree (Task-casualties-hazards-access-resources-damage) for collecting data and giving recon reports. We talked about how to deal with maps and building identification when everything has fallen down, and when houses and building have “moved around” by hundreds of meters.

We also discussed how to visually assess a structure for safe entry to look for survivors. After a lifetime of messages of “get out and stay out” after a disaster, it is a bit harrowing to think about going back in. (groaning noises = bad, bangs = bad, sudden breaking of window panes = bad) One of the rescue professionals there (from NZ Rescue Team 8, AKA Tawa Rescue) talked about how in tall concrete and steel buildings it is good to find out the color of the carpets on various floors, as when the 8 story building is reduced to a pile 4 meters high, only the carpet under your nose when you crawl in will tell you what “floor” you are on. I think it takes a special kind of professional crazy to want to crawl into a damaged structure like that.

What is also amsuing is how the rescue people thought they “had it easy” compared to Civil Defense. They just follow orders, and rescue who they are told. We will have to coordinate everything.

Good Recon also means igoring what is going on. You cannot get distracted into rescuing people when on recon. If you get distracted pulling a guy out of his house the packed school down the street that is burning down might never be noticed in time. It would be really hard to walk through so much suffering and distress just taking notes, which is why psychological casualties is on our list of hazards.

Also, I get the impression that in the event of “the big one” CD staff won’t be doing any of these things- we will be giving super-quick training to volunteers. If there are only 4 staff at our CD center we can’t afford to go out on recon. It will have to be 15 minute instructions for competent volunteers.

The other thing that is still slowly sinking in is just how long we will be “on our own” after a big event. Days at least. Not the Hollywood “a few hours of desperation, then the calvary arrives.” Makes me really hope that I am never, ever called upon!

Tech Toys

Those of you who have known me for years know that I don’t buy many tech toys. At the Home&garden show a few weeks back I made an exception and purchased a Cent-o-meter. It is very cool, and very useful.

There are two units, a sensor/wireless transmisser that you clip over the power cable coming into your fuse box, and a digital display you can take around the house. The digital display will show how much power you are consuming in kW, cents per hour, and kg of CO2 per hour! Pretty nifty. When you consider a cent an hour of drain is about $90 over an entire year, it is worthwhile tracking down all the trickle-loads in the house.

In NZ this is made easier as the power outlets have switrches so you can turn the outlet off, even if things are plugged in. I discovered that the washing machine, turned off, draws 10 Watts. Likeise the hub and inkjet printer in my office. Turning off those two at the wall is already $40 a year in savings!

Once I am done playing with it I will loan it out to friends to they too can see where their power is going, and how to find some savings.

Towel? Check!

Last night was the yearly thank-you party for Civil Defense, Rural Fire and Urban Search & Rescue volunteers. I think a MP spoke and thanked people for help during the floods 2 years ago (which hit her home, making it all very personal), but the venue was so noisy I could only hear one word in 10 she was saying even though I was only 4 meters away.

Chatting with Jock, the head of the Rural Fire Service, is always a hoot. That is if you find stories of the destructive power of fire amusing. Tales of how “you can tell the fire is hot when your ear-lobes melt.” Yummy.

On the way out I got a free little gift bag. Within was a beanie (knit cap) with the Wellington City Council and Civil Denefse logos, and a towel. A nice little travel-towel in its own little sack. It made me think of Douglas Adams and the necessity in an emergency of always knowing where your towel is. Was this some vieled geek-humor, or did they just score a pile of cheap towels and thought they would make a good gift? Maybe one day I will find out.

Rejected by the Vampires

On Tuesday I went to give blood, but they would not take it!

I had to check the little box for “needle stick injury,” which I incurred while vaccinating Oak a few weeks ago. ‘Needle-stick from animal’ was not in their book, but they decided to give me a 6-month exclusion anyway. You know, to see if I develop alpaca cooties or something.

At least I stuck myself with a 5-in-1 contaminated needle (killed clostridial vaccines), and not a Johnes-vaccine needle, which uses a live vaccine and apparently leads to all sorts of fun necrosis issues after a needle stick. Yum!

Penguins Attack!

In Antartica there are penguins. They have a weather machine. They seek our doom.

That is the only explanation for the sudden, and totally sucky, blast of winter weather. Cold howling southerly winds. Rain. For days on end. And it is of course school holidays, so parents around the country are stuck indoors with kids suffering cabin fever.

Thankfully we don’t have any cria on the ground yet, and our neighbors are pretty much done lambing, so should take few losses. The farmers on the Central Plateau are just starting lambing, and they will suffer horrific losses.

Bleah. I will be glad when the penguins turn off their infernal machine, and let us get back to spring.