Letter Re: OPSEC pre SHTF

Rourke:   Re OPSEC pre SHTF


In Texas,County Judges are the cognizant crisis event managers and all have been through several levels of FEMA crisis management training. This training is a pre-condition to their counties receiving disaster aid. Texas County Judges can order a quarantine of their county and declare a county disaster. Delegate the Judges may but responsible they are, and in the Panhandle, citizens hold their County Judges to a high level of accountability. Several counties here have stockpiled antivirals but only enough for county and emergency services employees and their families. I know one County Judge who would have liked to stockpile more but antiviral expense coupled with a finite lifespan rendered that possibility fiscally mute.


Each County Judge in Texas has access to a radio system that can connect him with other County Judges and even to the Governor. The Governor’s Crisis Manager is a dedicated individual who has equipped each Judge with well thought out crisis pre-planning and response guides. The Judge in my county has a number of three ring binders with plans for dealing with epidemiological and other events and the authority to request a drop shipment of stockpiled CONEX containers with contents tailored to specific events. Many counties throughout Texas have entered into mutual aid agreements and many participate in a council of governments that could organize multi-county response at less than the state level.


Almost all county mobile radios and certainly all issued to elected officials (judges, county commissioners, sheriffs, etc.), are interoperable within the state and equipped with common channels organized in a network hierarchy for emergency response coordination.


For less than a total system meltdown, I feel comfortable with the Texas Emergency Management System, especially with our responsible citizens doing responsible things even during difficult conditions.


The local fire chief may indeed be the delegated crisis manager but in Texas, the elected County Judge is the ultimate authority and directly responsible to his constituency.


Not all states are organized like the People’s Republic of Kalifornia.



Panhandle Rancher

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  1. A while back I had to take two classes on NIMS (National Incident Management System) in order to keep my officer’s title at the local Vol FD. NIMS is *THE* national standard for any incident, large or small. From your local propane leak to Hurricame Katrina or in my personal experience, the April 2011 Tornado Outbreak.

    NIMS has specialized classes on ICS, the Incident Command System. These range from ICS-100, that should be required for even all first responders, up to the ICS-400 which would be a multi-county, multi-jurisdictional, local, county, state and federal response. These classes are available (some online at http://www.fema.gov) to most anyone in the Fire, EMS or Law Enforcement fields. If you can, go to these classes, they are an eye opener.

    The main bottom line I learned from -300 was that the EMA director is not in charge of the incident. Neither is the FEMA guy that shows up. It is your elected officials (your Mayor or those appointed by them) who are in charge during an incident. USUALLY they will listen to the advice of the FD, EMA director and Law Enforcement before giving the go ahead.

    What can ICS do? Click here… http://training.nwcg.gov/courses/i100/ICS_I100_online.html

  2. Reference the letters regarding my original article on OPSEC pre SHTF. Good comments, both. It would appear that some areas of Texas are much better prepared for disasters than Kalif, but that should not be a surprise to anyone. Texans still maintain some of the “Spirit of Independence” probably believe in self help.” Many Kalifornians have a “Spirit of Total Dependence,” and the attitude that “someone will take care of me, so I’m not going to worry or prepare.” This may work in a storm or a minor incident, but in a true grid down situation it is an invitation to disaster.

    It would appear that Texas has given some thought to who should be in charge in the event of a SHTF situation, and has made some preparations as far as supplies go. I think that leaving preps in the hands of the people that live in an area, people that have a vested interest and are trained, is a great idea. I’ve always had an aversion outsiders showing up with ideas and other things that are foreign to me and my area, and locals, especially those of an “independent” bent, often react much more favorably to local talent than they do to outsiders.

    The county where I live has done very little to prepare for any type of disaster, preferring to cross whatever bridge when they get to it. There are no supplies set aside, other than some 5 gallon survival bucket/toilets in some county offices, and very minimal training has been given to the people that would be in charge in the event of a disaster. The responsibility for dealing with a disaster would fall on the shoulders of the Sheriff and his subordinates, and frankly, I don’t think they are up to the task. For far too long, this county has been dependent on the State and Feds to provide assistance in the event of problems that outstrip the ability of the local agencies to handle them. Again this is fine as long as the disaster is localized and men and materiel can get to a given area, but this may not be the possible in many cases. This area is served by one major highway and two minor roads, and all of them would be rendered useless for travel by a major earthquake, for example. There is no rail transport to the county seat and the airport is good for light planes only. That leaves EMS relying on the local infra structure for support, and this would quickly run out of “things.” With the JIT ordering system that is in place, there would be no re supply. In the unlikely event that some store was able to place an order for food for example, a truck would have to be armed like a WW2 B17 bomber to get from point A to point B. Think Iraq and Afghanistan. When supplies run out, the PTB would no doubt come a calling on prepared citizens, bank on it! This underscores the need for OPSEC. And the refugee problem and the overload on the local medical system is beyond the scope of this article.

    On to NIMS and the ICS. I am familiar with this system from my law enforcement days, and I am not a fan of it. In fact, law enforcement, that is street cops, had a tendency to look at SIMS/ICS as a joke. I always felt that it was far too cumbersome, and while it might offer some direction in the event of limited disasters, I do not think it was designed to handle grid down/SHTF incidents. Correct me if I am wrong, but look at Katrina and other incidents and ask yourself if NIMS, FEMA or any other government agency did any good in a timely manner. What makes anyone think things have changed? They haven’t, not appreciably. My experience with NIMS has led me to believe that it will be chaired by a bureaucrat with lots of hot air and very little real life experience, and no regard at all for preppers that probably know more than they. Additionally, it is designed to provide aid and assistance by tapping other state, federal and other county resources. What if these are not available? Think major earthquake, EMP, financial collapse! Counties such as the one I live in will be dependent on what can be provided on a local level. An elected bureaucrat that does not understand survivalism and prepping is not the person to be in charge!

    Again, both of these comments are good and well taken, but neither is the last word on this subject. They are applicable to some areas and some incidents, but both depend very heavily on the concept of “I’m from the guvmint, and I’m here to “hep” ya.”

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