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MAKE YOUR ALERT LIST: Formalize plans for a post-emergency support network

November 12, 2020

Image via Quad City Times.

by Kelvin Coburn, MBA
GSL Sangamon County Emcee
Life is precious and we all can take it for granted over time. However, all sorts of bad things can happen to any of us at any time. Fires, floods, tornados happen regularly, and so do car crashes, heart attacks and illnesses. Throw in the one-in-thirty chance of becoming the victim of violent crime in any given year and we should all be thankful for our good days.

At the same time, the wise and prudent man (and woman) will not only plan for emergencies, but also develop a strategy to help cope during and after adversity strikes.

I’ve been with Guns Save Life for a few years now, and I know the organization and its leadership advocate emergency preparedness. Let’s face it: when trouble and tumult show up, gun owners become quite popular for a host of reasons.


Planning for the aftermath of life emergencies
Obviously we should all have a plan to deal with an attack on our homes or persons. Most of us as gun owners have planned and prepared for that situation.

At the same time, I suspect many people haven’t prepared beyond the arrival of first-responders.

Your plans should include a support network to help you once those flashing red and blue lights leave. Failure to do so may result in feelings of isolation and helplessness.

In September, I brought up my family’s alert list (or alert roster) at the Sangamon County GSL meeting. Following the meeting, I was asked to expound on it and share it with our GSL family and GunNews readers.


An alert roster of friends and family
Every family should make an alert list or an alert roster to summon aid in a crisis situation. The military uses something similar when soldiers are out on weekend passes, and my family has had one for decades.

Yeah, most folks will call a family member or a friend in an emergency. But in the aftermath of a critical incident, that friend or family member might not answer your call. Or you and your family may not be thinking clearly – or you are without your magical glowing box known as a smartphone. Think about this stuff now while you’re calm, cool and not under pressure – not when your spouse is on a medical helicopter after a heart attack.

These rosters or lists can be set up in the two ways, sequentially or hierarchically. Both have pros and cons.

In a sequential roster, a contact person is required to call each and every individual on the roster. That can be burdensome and take time to implement. And it may fail if that first contact cannot be reached.

In a hierarchical roster, first person calls two or three designated senior people on the roster, who in turn will call a couple of others and then respond as needed. This happens until the last persons on the roster are reached.

In the perfect world, that final person then calls the person who initiated the alert to inform them that the list has been completed and everyone was notified. In the real world, it will generally get you plenty of help on short notice and additional calls can then be completed as necessary.


Types of support
Help can come in many forms, including childcare, petcare, homecare or post-disaster manpower and equipment. The help needed might be as simple as a ride home after a car crash or as challenging as cleaning up the aftermath of a fire or tornado where manpower, generators, portable lighting, chainsaws and tarps all may be needed – along with security. The bigger the problem, the greater the need for assistance.

One caution: this alert roster should not replace a call to law enforcement for incidents meriting a police response. After all, your friends and family may love you, but they’re not the sheriff’s posse. If you need police, call the police. Then call your alert roster.

While you can set up an alert list and plan of your choosing, I recommend a hierarchical roster based more upon location than anything else. You might have a best friend or the world’s best brother, but if he’s halfway across the nation, his response will be delayed.

Identify “senior members” of your family and friends hierarchy and put them at the top. Talk with them about your planning and share a hard-copy or two of your alert list.

Not only can they contact other people on your list, but they may have friends with certain tools or skill sets who can bring those to bear in your time of need. Also, on your list, offer a few words about skills or resources those people have in addition to names, addresses and phone numbers. Because those senior people on your list might not know everyone on your list and their skill sets.

Pretty much everyone on the list should be reliable, responsible people who will serve as assets to help you and your family. You know, those who have the knowledge, skills and attitudes that can help no matter the problem. Obviously, leave the drama queens and the black sheep of the family off your list even if you feel that your list is a little lean.

Friends and family sift through debris at the home of Daniel Wassom after his house was destroyed by a tornado, Monday, April 28, 2014, in Vilonia, Ark. Wassom died in the tornado trying to shield a family member. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

Don’t have a lot of friends? Try attending Guns Save Life meetings. You’ll meet some truly exceptional people. Over time, you will make friends. Real friends. The sort of friends who come help you move or who will help your family while you struggle with chemotherapy or worse. Of course, you’ll be expected to reciprocate for those on your list, not only with moving, but helping them if they’re ever on the other end of one of those calls for help.

After all, that’s what true friends do for one another.

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