Preparing for the worst

by Alan Hodge

Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officers Thomas Case, left, and John Gompers, right, inspect an emergency kit N.C. Ranger Corps founder and Assistant State Director Taylor Ruble Rubles brought to a seminar at the Mountain Island branch library Saturday, Dec. 11.

When man-made or natural disasters happen, the vast majority of people are totally unprepared, and the North Carolina Ranger Corps intends to remedy that potentially tragic situation.

To that end, Ranger Corps founder and Assistant State Director Taylor Ruble presented an in-depth seminar at the Mountain Island branch library Saturday that covered the non-profit organization’s role in emergency preparedness, and information on how individuals and families can be ready if disaster should strike.

“Our main goal is to go out and educate the public as far as preparedness is concerned,” Ruble, who is a Mountain Island resident, said. “It is the most important thing we do.”

Founded a year ago, the Ranger Corps has 25 Rangers trained and ready to lend a hand in any disaster situation. Another 50 or so folks are in training to join the ranks. Training for Rangers includes American Red Cross CPR and first aid certification, National Rifle Association certified Weapon’s Safety, Incident Command System/National Incident Management System, and search and rescue training. In addition, Rangers are trained in crisis prevention and have attended at least 20-30 hours of classroom and online instruction.

In other words, Rangers are ready to pitch in and help larger disaster relief groups such as the American Red Cross and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. But they won’t just be handing out donuts and coffee in the event of a disaster. Rangers will be in the thick of things lending aid and advice.

At Saturday’s seminar, Ruble imparted a good deal of disaster preparedness knowledge to the folks who attended. One point that came across loud and clear was the need for people to take a proactive approach rather than relying solely on the government to deal with disasters, and how the Ranger Corps is working towards that goal.

“The government hands out brochures and books,” Ruble said. “But that doesn’t get people to prepare. The way is to do what we do, go to churches, schools and other places where there is an audience.”

Two seminar attendees, Thomas Case and John Gompers, are Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officers.

“I became interested after some of those crazy storms like Hurricane Katrina,” Case said. “Everybody was looking for the government to help, but they needed to be better prepared themselves.”

Gompers was looking towards using his Ranger Corps experience on the job.

“Hopefully, we can turn it into something formal with CMPD in the future,” he said.

Among the tips Ruble offered on Saturday, one was especially important.

“In case of a disaster,” Ruble said, “unless your home or the structure you are in is burning or about to collapse, stay there.”

Ruble’s reasoning was that people rushing around will simply clog the roads and impede organized relief efforts.

“Panic is what kills people,” he said.

A startling statistic Ruble cited Saturday was that only 16 to 20 percent of people have any level at all of an emergency preparedness plan.

“There are seven pillars of disaster preparedness,” Ruble told the attendees. “They are food and water, shelter, health and sanitation, communication, security, community, and faith in yourself, your community, and your plan.”

Overall, Ruble’s expertise in disaster preparedness and the Ranger Corps made a big impact on the people at Saturday’s seminar and will hopefully reach an even broader audience in the future.

To become a Ranger, the candidate must be between the ages of 17 and 70 years and a citizen of North Carolina. Once in, Rangers must report to at least one non-emergency gathering such as a meeting or training exercise every three months.

More information on the North Carolina Ranger Corps and disaster preparedness can be found at the organization’s website info@ncrangercorps.org.

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