Communication Plan

Introduction:

You are working on your emergency preparedness in order to keep your family and loved ones safe during a disaster.

Emergency preparedness for either a natural disaster or a man-made disaster has some common elements that need to be managed, such as food or water. But one point that you absolutely must not overlook is the establishment of a solid communication plan.

Decide how will communicate with your team, either family members or a group of trusted friends, during a natural or man-made disaster.
Write it down and practice it.

Communication is an essential item during an emergency. So, as you go through some disaster scenarios with your team, detail how you will communicate before, during and after an emergency.

The ability to share details and information during a stressful situation is vital to a plan running smoothly.
Focus on creating a clear and reliable emergency communication plan that helps your team follow the process as a situation is unfolding.

Do not forget that some emergencies may restrict the use of your usual communication methods.
If you think about connecting with your team through text message, Telegram or WhatsApp, you should realize that all of those rely upon a single communication tool, your cellphone (or your laptop). In any case, when the cellular data network goes down, all of your phone apps are unusable. When the internet connection does not work, your laptop is useless.

In case of a power outage or unavailable Internet access, how will you communicate?
Satellite phones will still be working, but even satellite phones have breaks in coverage and they are expensive to use.
Also, while a satellite phone might still work during a major conflict such as political chaos, the implementation of a dictatorship or a civil war, it doesn’t mean you’re invisible! Even if they can’t shut down your calls, many governments can track satellite phone signal locations, unless your system uses signal scrambling features. Anyways, as civilians, it probably won’t be the best option for us.

In 2021, more than ever, you are used to communicate through text message and social media apps, but you should pay attention to the content of the messages you send to your team.

If you are really serious about your communication plan, you definitely need to create a communication plan “B” that does not include the use of the internet connection, cellphones, radios or satellite phones, especially if you need to communicate under the radar during a man-made disaster.
Our grandparents, resistance fighters style communications during the WW2, remains probably the best plan “B” in such context.

Never forget, as long as governments and people who are ruling our world are backed up by law enforcement and the military, they can make our daily life hell, tracking every single move we are doing.
The current cellphones data monitoring and vehicles GPS tracking technology are their best allies.

How to get started?

As a civilian, PACE is a methodology you could use to start with your communication plan.

What is PACE?

PACE describes a methodology originally used to build a communication plan. It’s an acronym used in military communications planning that stands for:

Primary: The routine and your most effective method of communication.
It could be, for you and your team, the use of your text messages or emails. A text message may get through when a call will not. This is because a text message requires far less bandwidth than a phone call. A text message may also save and then send automatically as soon as capacity becomes available.
Avoid texting about the entire topic. Use short messages such as: ” I’m ok, Meet you where planned. All good”.
Keep all details for your meetings in person.

Alternate: Another common method of passing a message with minimal to no other impact. May be used along with the primary under normal circumstances to assure readiness.
As civilian, it could be the use of short calls without talking about the entire topic. ” Hey I’m stuck in the traffic, I’m running a few minutes behind”

Contingency: This method will normally not be as convenient as the first two methods, but is capable of passing traffic when necessary.
In this case, it could be the use of a satellite phone. This is a great example as it is not reliant on any cellphone connection or internet network.

Emergency: It is the loss of all communications. If all else fails, this is your last resort.
It could be for you to plan ahead our grandparents resistant fighter’s style’s communications during the WW2. No technologies involved. Only meeting in places planned in advance. Everyone must know what to do, where to go and what to take with them.

In a military context, for example, or while a private security agency is doing a government’s dirty job during a foreign mission, communications are the only way to get resupplied or extracted from a war zone. The loss of all communications (E: emergency) might initiate the escape plan. The loss of all communications almost always means giving up the mission and figuring out your own escape.

If “PACE” is good for communications, we may think that it is good for everything else, formal and informal. If you have four ways of doing something, you can be pretty comfortable about a single failure. There are, though, many situations in an emergency where you just don’t have that many options.

What should you work on?

Building your team:

Building a team is not easy. Communication and leadership are essential, egos and conflicts must be put aside.
Make sure to involve the right people. What are their values? Are they reliable people?
Diversify as much as possible, different life experiences, ages and skills are an asset.
All together, define each role within the team according to each person’s skills. The goal is to bring people together into a cohesive unit and being able to act during hard times.

Get or improve essential skills you may need:

Teamwork in a street fight, realistic self-defence trainings, learning how to shoot and/or tactical shooting, being certified in a 40- hour wilderness & remote First Aid, which provides advanced first aid and CPR skills, leadership and rescue decision-making skills, learning how to cook with minimal gear, learning how to read a map and use a compass, etc.

Create your emergency contacts:

Save and exchange the contact informations and medical issues of your all team.
Write down the phone number of people you might have to call, in case of a natural disaster, like your insurance company or utilities service provider.
Keep all paper backups inside a waterproof bag.
If you save your data on your cellphone, prioritize the use of a security code rather than the use of your fingerprint. Learn your security code by heart and do not write it down anywhere.

About school, daycare and workplace:

Because a disaster can strikes during school or work hours, you need to know their emergency response plans and take this into account when creating your own plan.
If you feel that something serious could happen within the next 24-48 hours or less, do not send your kids at school and not go at work. Keep the family members all together.

Define a team emergency meeting place:

If you are in an emergency situation, (remember, PAC(E) It is the loss of all mean of communication, you should have planned ahead safe and familiar places where you team can go for protection or reunite and work on the next step.
According to the threats you are facing, and your level of preparedness, your team could meet either indoor or outdoor.

Indoor:
This could be a safe room designed for this purpose. Bunker’s style in the lowest level of a sturdy house. Emergency food, gear, weapons, ammunitions, would be available for your team members, while all of you are working on the next step.
It requires that every team members show up with their own emergency kit, otherwise you have to plan ahead enough gear for everyone.

Outdoor:
Having an out-of-town meeting place can help you to reunite if you can’t stay home and need to leave your neighbourhood.
This meeting place could be the house of a relative or a cabin you all know, lost in the middle of nowhere. In this case, you need to plan how to carry at least your 72-hour emergency bags, including your gear and all stuff you need.
Know your evacuation routes.

Review, update and practice with your team:

Update your plan regularly, especially during unstable times:
Practice with your team at least once per quater.
Practice texting, calling and sending a group text to your mobile phone group list.
Make sure everyone is aware and understand the signal that will make all of you meeting indoor or outdoor without any means of communication available.

Double check regularly the quantity of your hight calories emergency food and the conditions of your gear. Update your supplies if needed.
Make some realistic scenarios about facing a sudden emergency, for example discuss and plan according to the latest threats following some political events.

If your meeting point is a lost cabin in the middle of nowhere, you must practice to get there no matter the season. Then, learn from each experience and optimize your gear. If it is possible, try to use different ways to get the cabin and try to improve your moving conditions.
After your practice, talk about how it went. What worked well, what can be improved? what information need to be updated?

Repetition and optimization of resources is one of the main keys to success. Without regular training all together, do not expect that a stressed team get the best results the day that the shit will hit the fan.

Notice:

As civilian facing an emergency, their is no perfect solution that works at 100%. You are not a part of a Combat Unit assisted by Air Forces spending your daily time to train every possible scenario. You are parents, friends who try to do their best to stay alive in order to keep everyone safe during a chaos.
You must have to adapt according to the skills of your team.

Only regular meetings with your team, to review, adapt and practice your plan “A” & “B”, can help to maximize your chance to go through a violent time, either from a natural disaster or a man-made disaster.
If you really want to prepare your team to face a major event, having regular trainings to develop your fighting skills as well as advanced First aid skills, would help to improve your chances of survival. If you can afford it, just do it.
Never forget that even a natural disaster, can bring daily violence to a quiet area.

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