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Your Plans - Thoughts from Bravo Echo

Often times I find myself in conversations about the "what if's" and the "unknowns" to what the future brings. Patience is often not something included when people discuss the future or start building their plans. Part of this problem is natural built in traits of the human and how the human works psychologically. Heck, Ms. Lucy and I present different attitudes when we talk about plans. Holiday plans. Vacation plans. Financial plans. Dinner plans... We have different backgrounds, experience, traits, levels of stress raising children vs levels of stress from real world operations. Often times her stress required patience where as my stress required expediency and accuracy to decisions. We must remember, different events and scenarios drive different levels of decision making. There is nothing wrong with differing points, however we must have balance and flexibility. How do we adapt and adjust to changes.

When we build emergency plans and put together preparedness plans, there are no magic answers. I offer you my thoughts and suggestions but that doesn't mean my answer is best for you. I simply offer what I believe based on experience, understanding, training and studying trends and traits, history, and having built many plans in my past. A plan is simply a detailed proposal for doing or achieving something. It describes how you are going to do it. It can be as detailed as one wants it or as simple as what will work. Plans often fail because it is a thought so detailed it is not practical for the users and it will eventually fail because the users failed to demonstrate the plan by practicing it. Lack of time. Lack of manpower. Lack of resources. Lack of ability. Changing threats to counter the plan. The author or group who proposed the plan failed to conduct a risk analysis of the plan and it was not doable.

One of the great lessons I learned in the military was witnessing countless plans built on paper, signed to make it official, shoved in a binder, and a checkmark placed on the checklist to say it was completed and then considered done. Then an inspection team arrived and tasked the organization to demonstrate their ability to use the plan and "boom," the plan went live...and failed. In order to make a plan official it must be practiced and exercised by the users to ensure it works and those using it can do just that. A failed plan can have many negative impacts to include loss of life and valuable resources.

I often comment about "one is none, two is one, and three is better." We need backups to the plan and when possible a backup to the backup. A home should have a main plan to escape during a fire and a backup to the main plan. Right? Yes, the objective is to move from Point A to Point B as safe and quick as possible. I have learned over the years, unless trained to do so, most people cannot adapt and adjust on the fly (move) so when their main plan fails they are paralyzed and suffer the consequences. I continually suggest folks should practice learning how to think outside the box. See things from outside the box vs being stuck in the box...with a single plan. After action reports from the 911 disaster proves the point. Employees had no clue how to get out of the building from their work location once their primary route was blocked or unusable. Now what? Sadly, many died.

If you learn to think outside the box and practice it you will live your life continually looking for secondary ways of moving, doing, and thinking. It would be like a person walking through a mall and encountering a threat in their pathway. The in the box thinker will continue to move forward towards the threat with the thought process they will get through unharmed. Do you see how many things could go bad here? The person could be confronted, attacked, robbed, beaten. Or even killed... This doesn't even address what could happen to a family member who could be with you. The out of the box thinker will immediately stop and begin a transition in another direction while visually scanning their surroundings and moving towards a safe escape path. A personal goal should be to see the threat in advance and move to avoid it, not encounter the threat and have to defend oneself. I know some will say what is wrong with the physical confrontation. If you are tied up in a scuffle you are focused on the person threating to harm you. You also lose focus of your family members who may be near you and the threat. If you can avoid the scuffle you are utilizing your mental skills to rapidly scan and process the big picture to find your path to safety.

When putting together your plans ensure you include flexibility, adaptability, capability, and insurability in your process completely. Have you tested the plan to ensure it is flexible? If threats confront your plan can you adapt to the threat and adjust your plan to allow it to continue? Based on the number of people and available resources, and physical abilities, are you capable of doing the plan? Based on the plan, people, resources, and having practiced the plan, are you confident the plan is solid and doable?

You must determine any points throughout your plan where you encounter a higher risk of failure and then determine how you will mitigate the risk. Huh? Let's say you have a plan where you will relocate your family out the back of your home (bugging out) and walk about ten miles to a family member who is planning to receive you. You have an established cache at your destination so your back packs are light with basic items of food, water, first aid, fire starting material and some other basics. You will be traveling with approximately six to eight family members. Your back packs are staged and everyone knows the plan. You practiced it. You are good to go. You know in the spring and summer you have a creek that is wider and deeper and it will slow you down while you cross it one by one after a rope is placed across the creek for each member to hold while crossing. In the winter months the creek depth drops down to about 6" in depth and is less of a threat. You have a plan. Eighteen months later at three am you are forced out of your home and you give the command to implement the plan. Everyone departs in file formation crossing the field towards your destination. The temperature is about 25 degrees with a steady breeze. As you approach the creek you can hear the water flowing briskly. It gets louder as you get closer. Then reality hits, you just endured about a week of warmer weather and rainfall the previous week. The creek is at summer depth and flow. You realize it would be a huge risk to cross the creek in the dark and in freezing cold water. At this point, you remember rotating your summer to winter resources in the bags and realize your resources to cross the creek got removed and replaced with resources for winter weather.

Your plan A is now in trouble. You discuss it with your family and explain the high risk of submerging in the freezing water and then being exposed in the freezing temperatures. If the family continues forward they will have to stop on the other side and use their plastic canopy to build shelter and start a fire to allow everyone to keep warm and allow their clothing to dry. Because you failed to establish a Plan B or Plan C, it appears you are stuck using Plan A. A good Plan B could have been staging gear by the creek side to have available all year. Another simple adjustment could have been to include wet weather gear in the empty space the back packs offered when rotating the summer to winter gear. So your risk analysis would have included possible threats to this process and your mitigation would be the resources staged by the creek and/or wet weather gear in the back packs. Adapt and adjust. There was no mention or consideration to extract from the area and walk two miles up the creek to cross an established bridge and then work back down the creek to the original route. This would add another four miles to the journey. Another plan could be to take the plastic canopy and cut it up to use as feet and leg covers to keep each member dry as they cross the creek. This was not considered because no one thought outside the box or conducted a risk analysis of the process. These seem very simplistic but I can tell you the majority of people will think inside the box and fail to make adjustments. The higher the stress level the percentages will increase for failure.

In closing, I have referenced it before and will state it again, I'm reminded of the old quote by former Heavyweight Boxing Champ Mike Tyson when he said "everyone has a plan till they get punched in the mouth." Think about it. Don't get caught short. Plan, practice, re-plan, practice, evaluate failure points (risk), re-plan with adjustments, practice, document. Once documented a working plan, make it evergreen. Meaning, it's a living document and must be evaluated continually.

Be safe and keep charging. No amount of money or resources will outweigh common sense, and thinking outside the box. Money and resources will augment these skills.


Bravo Echo Out,

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