This is an emergency-preparedness post, though in disguise.
Last Friday evening I went to see Cloverfield (and so missed a CPR In Progress). Saturday and Sunday I spent in a 16 hour FEMA course (using the National Fire Academy protocols) on NIMS (National Incident Management System) level 100, 200, and 700) course. Naturally, the two coalesced in my brain.
MULTIPLE SIGHTINGS OF CASE DESIGNATE “CLOVERFIELD” CAMERA RETRIEVED AT INCIDENT SITE U.S. 447 AREA FORMERLY KNOWN AS “CENTRAL PARK”
For those who haven’t seen the movie, don’t intend to, but want to participate in the discussion anyway, here’s Cloverfield in Fifteen Minutes. Good review/refresher in any case. This movie is, essentially, the Blair Godzilla Project. It’s lots better than last Godzilla movie set in New York City.
Okay. Let’s pretend that our heroes in this flick are canny young New Yorkers who have read Making Light. In Part II of this exercise, we’ll pretend to be the Incident Commander (or various branch or section heads) for this same event.
Rob and his chums have been having a party. Let’s start off on the roof of Rob’s building, after midnight, as Something Is Happening in the Harbor. The world turns to badness in front of their eyes. Time to deviate from the movie. Rob, cunning Making Light reader, pauses in his headlong flight down the stairs at his apartment, where he snatches up his first aid kit, his urban survival bag, and his deployment/evacuation bag.
Once in the street, while badness is flying through the air, Rob knows to seek cover and concealment.
Once the immediate danger has passed, he knows it is a general principle that if you don’t understand what’s going on, you should back off until you do understand. He knows that it is a general principle that distance equals safety. He knows that he should form up a small group to move together: himself plus three to seven people (the greatest number he can control).
Walking is for those who can; for those for whom it’s easier than any other means of evacuation; and for those who have no other means of evacuation and are in immediate danger.
Always use the buddy system. “Bare is brotherless back,” as Grettir the Strong put it; and if Grettir was worried about going places alone, you’d better worry too. So bring a friend with you. Friends keep bad things from happening. If things go badly anyway, you’ll need their help. And if things go well (hey, it could happen), it’ll be nice to have a friend along to share the laughs.
“Says Major Clarke ‘My heroes
We can no longer stand,
We must strive to form in order
And retreat the best we can.’ ”
Forming in order is the important part there.
Rob’s doing well so far. He’s got himself, with Hud, Jason, Marlena, and Lily. They’ve got a plan: Get out of lower Manhattan on foot via the Brooklyn Bridge. So far, so good. Rob’s supposed to be some kind of hot-shot manager. He’s a VP at some company and assigned to Japan because he’s so darned good. So he hands his first aid kit to whoever in his group has the most training (even if it’s just a Boy/Girl Scout merit badge) and says “You’re medical officer.” He hands the Urban bag to someone else and says, “You’re supply officer.” They head out.
Rob knows (from reading Making Light) that “In a survival situation, you live as long as your feet do.” Let’s see if the spare shoes Rob has in his deployment bag will fit Lily, so she can ditch those four-inch-spike heels. Let’s see if he’s got a pair of pants that’ll fit her too, so she won’t be running around with bare legs. Failing that, there are corpses in the street. Do any of them have shoes and pants that fit? There are stores around. Do any of them have shoes and pants?
Okay, we’ve replaced Lily’s spike heels and Marlena’s platform boots with some decent walking shoes. We’ve slathered on anti-chafing cream. Get walking.
That didn’t turn out so well. The bridge is down, and we’ve taken casualties. Getting a new battery for his phone is a good idea, since comms are important. By magic the cell phone system is still up. Because he has his urban bag, Rob has a phone card and a bunch of quarters, so he can keep in phone comms (hardwired is more robust than the cell system). He learns that Beth is in trouble.
Should he rescue Beth? Personal decision time, and I can’t say he’s wrong to do so. 9-1-1 will be clobbered, and it’s unlikely that incident command will detail resources to single individuals. The decision by the group to stick together is a good one.
Beth, now. She’s in her PJs, pinned to the floor, unable to self-extract. On the plus side, she’s awake, alert, and oriented. She has access to a telephone. 9-1-1 is clobbered. Calling a friend is a good decision.
Because Rob has a radio and batteries, he can learn a) where the monster is (to avoid those areas), b) where the evacuation routes are, and c) of developing threats (so smaller monsters won’t appear as a surprise to him).
Into the tunnels. Not a bad decision. Since Rob’s got two flashlights plus spare batteries with him, he’s got light even if Con Ed can’t maintain power (which they’re apparently doing by magic). He should assume that the tunnels will flood, particularly given that initial reports were of an earthquake, and there’s been lots of physical damage that he’s seen himself. So getting out of the tunnels fast should be a priority. When the rats all start moving fast in the same direction, he should consider that they know something he doesn’t, and pick up the pace.
Right, attacked by monsters, but particularly soft, squishy monsters since four civilians manage to beat them with their bare hands. We’re now in a secure location, with food and water. Marlena is injured. Rob knows to treat the bleeding with direct pressure, and he knows that Marlena is either in shock now, or will shortly be going into shock. He’s got the supplies to deal with this, but he also knows that he needs to get her to medical attention. Anything else is a holding pattern. Decision point: Treat Marlena for shock, detail one person to stay with her, while the other two go for help, or all four move together? All four moving together isn’t a bad decision.
In contact with the Army, and the Marlena problem solved, the remaining three return to the original mission: get Beth, then get out. They have a plan for the “get out” part (get on a helicopter), but no contingency plan.
At Beth’s: Beth is impaled on rebar. Rob knows that procedure is to leave an impaled object in place; that removing the impaled object might cause greater damage, and that if it’s tamponading a major vessel, that removing it might cause fatal hemorrhage. But he also knows that this is a situation where the scene is unsafe, that if he leaves Beth in place that she will die, while if he attempts to move her she only may die. Removing the impaled object is the correct decision.
He should control bleeding afterward with direct pressure, then sling-and-swathe the affected arm and shoulder, to limit movement.
Picking up Beth’s first aid kit, urban bag, and deployment bag, before leaving the apartment would be a good choice. They’re now up two more flashlights and another portable radio, food and water, plus other gear. Beth’s got weather-appropriate clothing and good shoes and that’s where they got the medical supplies to patch her up enough to move.
Note: when our protagonists spot the abandoned horse carriage, they should have thought, “Hurrah! Transportation!”
Now comes the cheat “They were all run over by a bus” ending. Our guys have muddled through pretty successfully, but now the Army Guys running the helicopters totally screw up. What were they thinking, running transport helicopters through the hot zone? The transportation section (under the logistics branch) has totally screwed the pooch.*
Speaking of which, the documentation section (falls under the planning branch) of this Incident Command screwed the pooch in labeling Rob’s tape. The format in the title is all screwed up. What is clearly a videotape has been mislabeled as “Digital SD,” among many other problems. This comes from getting a large number of volunteers from a long way away to deal with processing the material, but still, the planning branch officer needs to get on it. The after-action report on how he or she handled the incident won’t be kind.
Now it’s time to become the Incident Commander. Your objectives are:
You have a big incident on your hands. You have your command staff: a deputy commander, safety officer, public information officer, a liaison officer to talk to other agencies coming in, and your branch heads. Operations (to do the strategic and tactical stuff to the critter), Logistics (to handle supplies and support; get the civilians out of the way, provide food and port-a-potties for the people in Ops who are dealing with the critter, come up with fuel and ammo, and so on), Finance (to figure out where the money to pay for all this is coming from), and Plans (to plan, provide training, document the event, and so on).
The Incident Commander is probably going to be a Coast Guard admiral. First, let’s set up a command post. You’ll need comms, facilities for your staff, and a reasonable chance that the incident won’t nail you, too. Boston is about close enough.
Now let’s come up with some things to do. First, under Save Lives, let’s evacuate New York City as phase one, and evacuate the NYC metro area out to fifty miles in phase two. Turn to your Logistics Branch Commander and say, “Make it so.” The Logistics Branch salutes smartly, goes off to confer with his/her subordinates (three to seven of ‘em, with five as optimum), and gets back to you with a list of requirements. You give the appropriate orders down through the chain of command.
Meanwhile, you turn to your Operations Branch Commander, and say, “I want the creature killed. If that is not possible, confine it in place. If that is not possible, herd it to a relatively low-value area.” The Ops boss salutes smartly, goes off to confer with his/her subordinates (three to seven of ‘em, as above), and comes back with some requirements.
Similarly for Finance (the Finance Branch Commander will be paying the responders, buying the supplies that Ops and Logistics need, and otherwise doing all the money stuff; fighting a giant creature isn’t going to be cheap, and funds have to come from somewhere). Finance will be responsible for compensation and claims for damage sustained due to your operations.
Similarly for the Planning Branch. They will develop lists of resources, keep updated on the situation, document the incident, find/get/obtain technical specialists, and finally demobilize the response when the incident is over.
Up in the command staff, the Liaison Officer (with three to seven assistants) will be making contact with outside agencies, using the lists created by the Resouces Unit under Planning. These might include the Salvation Army, the American Red Cross, NATO, EPA, OSHA, DoD, Amtrack, Greyhound Bus, and other assets. Liaison will assign the assets to other branches as necessary.
Okay. Let’s go over to the Logistics Branch. They’ve been tasked with evacuating Manhattan, then the other boroughs, then out to 50 miles from Times Square. Let’s set up a traffic flow pattern. Task Department of Sanitation with removing all civilian vehicles from the streets. Set up civilian collection points at Grand Central Station, Penn Station/Port Authority Bus Terminal, and Fort Tryon Park. FDR and West Side Highway are now one-way, all lanes, headed north. I-95 is one-way, all lanes, headed South. Staging area is Westport, CT. Temporary relocation centers are in western New York and Pennsylvania. I-84 is one way, all lanes, headed west. I-90 is one way, all lanes, headed east.
Ops Section. One of your subordinates is the Air Operations Branch commander. Air Ops will have two subordinates, one for Air Tactical Group, one for Air Support Group. Start rounding up resources, figure out tactics, and get moving. You’ll have a Surface Operations Branch. Medical for civilians is one of your responsibilities. (Medical for responders falls under the Logistics Branch.)
You don’t have time to screw around. A 300 foot tall nearly-invulnerable monster is rampaging through New York. The situation is dynamic. When the mini-monsters show up, the Ops Branch Commander (who should have gotten the word from the Ground Operations Section officer) should designate a mini-monster section officer and tell him/her “Deal with the mini-monsters. Update me on what you’re doing and tell me what you need.” Then he should pass the word up to the Incident Commander, who will note it, and inform the Public Information Officer, who will inform the press.
And so on. The incident commander is responsible for everything. He/she can delegate authority to make things happen, but can never delegate responsibility. As commander, it’s up to you to get word out to everyone when the mini-monsters show up. What they look like, what they do, how to deal with them. You’ll want to get the word to the public via your Public Information Officer too, so Rob (with his battery-operated radio) won’t be surprised by ‘em in a subway tunnel somewhere.
Work the problem.
Because Rob read Making Light, he and his friends got out of the city okay. Jason got separated from the group on the bridge; he knew the rally point was at their mom’s house so he headed there. Rob and Beth married and had many adventures, starting in Japan. Marlena and Hud became a famous team in Hollywood; director and cinematographer. Jason and Lily had a thing for a while, drifted apart, but still exchange Christmas cards. They’re interviewed for the PBS documentary on the events.