This was my response in a chat on a social media site to a comment about not needing to learn ham radio until you need it and using flash cards as “just in time” training. I’ve added some ‘extra’ stuff here as it got me thinking more, yes the dam squirrel came running by in my head 🙂
Here’s my concern with “don’t bother to learn until you need it.” When SHTF, like a tornado, car accident in the boonies, etc., let alone a true SHTF, you are going to be so stressed and you will loose manual dexterity unless you have constantly trained and it is muscle memory, or brain memory. You will not be able to pull out your app or flash cards and ‘figure out’ what button does what, what channel/frequency to be on, what to say etc. Having worked in a 9-1-1 center in the earlier part of my career you should hear the calls from people with the minor or simplest issue, like “my dryer is smoking,” “I have a flat tire” let alone “he’s got a cut on his leg, its bleeding” or “she’s having a baby!”
Now from what I see those flash cards are only talking about using a Baofeng or similar. So do you know who you can talk to, do you have a communications plan with your family, will it reach from home to work, how far will it really reach, what can I do to make it reach further, what other options do I have to reach further? All these questions you should know the answer to, like how many bullets are in the magazine in my gun, where on my belt is my spare magazine, how do I apply a tourniquet, when do I use a tourniquet, how do I apply a pressure dressing? You should have muscle memory on all of these skills just as you should your comms. Because without comms you can’t call for help, you can’t coordinate with your family. So learn how, get a license and practice. You can do this all for FREE if you know where to look. There are free resources for studying for the Technician license and free exams (Laurel VEC teams are all free). You can find all the resources on my web page under communications at fortunefavorstheprepared.com
This doesn’t just apply to ham radio.
I work in emergency management now, we develop plans and procedures and contingency (continuity) plans to keep things operating as best we can when everything else is going to shit. We practice those plans, we revise them if needed after an event. Why do we do this? Because years in law enforcement, then 20 as a medic and instructor have taught me that when SHTF, just things don’t work as normal or go as planned; people freak the heck out, they don’t think rationally, they can’t think under pressure, they can’t put a coherent sentence together, some can’t put 3 words together, and they forget there is a plan!
No plan survives first contact with the enemy, sometimes you have to take a few steps back, think outside the box (I’m really good at that) and come back at it. You can’t do that without experience, practice and training.
But how do you know what to plan and train for? Are you going “all out” for TEOTWAWKI? Great if you have thousands of dollars to drop on “stuff.” But what’s your plan? Most of us don’t have the kind of money required to acquire land away from everyone else, with the ability to be self-sustaining (let alone the time). How do you know what to plan for? What are the more likely events and emergencies that you could impact you and your family?
This is where a proper assessment of threats and hazards comes in. Determine what threats and hazards could impact you. Then you determine what the likelihood of it happening. Next you determine the consequences of it happening. You then look at capabilities, what you would need to deal with it, both in terms of training/skills and resources/equipment/supplies. Then you determine what gaps you have by looking at the knowledge/skills/abilities that you have. While this sounds complicated I’m writing an article, or more accurately training material, to step you though this. At the end of the process you will have a very good road map of where you are and where you need to be, and how to get there. It will enable you to better plan and prioritize, and spend your hard earned cash smarter, to better prepare and protect your family. That’s what its all about, protecting your family.