As I’ve said before I’ve been involved in the definition of computer systems disaster recover plans and the subsequent testing. It’s good to have a plan but there is a quote that describes testing and reality in very simple terms. It’s not quite war but the principle is the same.
No plan survives first contact with the enemy
You see no matter how much testing you put in and no matter how many variables you change it is possible that reality will come up with a scenario you have not thought of. Especially if that scenario involves people. People are unpredictable and do not always make sensible decisions. It’s not that people are stupid, although many times you might come to the conclusion that they are from their actions, it is that they react irrationally to events and do not consider the consequences of their actions. They rush off and just do something. That is why people plan and then test the plans, revising as necessary until they work.
Practice makes perfect
We then repeatadly test to ensure that the plans work and that people react in the way they are trained rather than any other way. People will then follow the training rather than do something on their own even when faced with danger. That is the nature of the beast.
So we can switch off the electricity and survive a few days on our preps. We can filter water from our barrels and we can drive to our Bug Out Locations and a million other isolated tasks but we can only do so much for an integrated test. The problem that we face is that we can’t practice too much, we can’t repeat all our tests until they are second nature as;
- We don’t know what the scenario is going to be
- There are too many variables
- We can’t replicate the actions of others
- We just don’t have the time
So this leaves us with the fact that when an event occurs we can only have tested certain aspects of our plans. This leaves the rest untested and even worse we will not be trained in their implementation.
This training is important for several reasons;
- It makes our actions automatic. Less hesitation.
- Having been tested we are confident in the outcome
Now, the biggest problem in my opinion is that in tests we know they are tests. We know that in 3 hours the power will come on, we know that there won’t be a real fire that could kill us at the bottom of the building and we know that it will soon be over and the worst that will happen is that someone will shake their head and say, not fast enough, you are dead or something similar. You of course won’t be dead and will more than likely be thinking ‘If it was real I would have done something different’.
The reality is though that if it was real everyone would do something different as well and it wouldn’t work out the way you think it will. I was at one place that did a fire alarm test every monday at 1100 and a fire drill every three months. Advance warning was given to ensure nothing was left out, it was a secure site, and this performed flawlessly. For one thing a lot of people made sure they were off site, nobody arranged visitors for that time and just before the alarm everyone was packing away. In tests it performed flawlessly. In reality though; a contractor was working on the air conditioning and triggered the fire alarm. Most of the people got out as per the tests. One section though was stuck with a wheelchair user that refused to leave his documents but needed help to collect them so his workmates just walked and left him to sort himself and made their escape. Two people were slightly injured in the rush as well. Not exactly according to plan at all but on the plus side everyone, bar one, was out of the building in record time.
The reason this is relevant to you in your preps is that we know that the test will end. You may be cold but at the end you get a nice warm soup and a shower. You get to take off the radiation mask and wash your face and you don’t get disassembled by a parent looking for food for their kid. You can perform the test with worrying about a million and one things you would have to worry about if the event was real. That means that our tests are not real tests but just process tests. Process tests just test the equipment and the processes but are not full tests on you, your skills, resilient and actions.
As a real life example we have turned off the heating for a few days. We like it when it goes back on but if it didn’t you would find yourself wanting to stay in bed to keep warm, you would start to get depressed and lethargic and the future doesn’t look as bright. Plus you know your supplies will not be replenished so you look at ways to make them last longer. Multi tools, always handy, suddenly need to be in two places at once or get broken, lost or stolen. Rats get into your food and ruin some, foxes kill some of the chickens, you always feel cold, ill or tired; probably both and good news appears few and far between. Everthing that you remember is bad news and there appears to be no light at the end of the tunnel, not even a glimmer. The next thing you know someone snaps and goes off the deep end. Anything can happen then.
We need to be aware of this and although you can’t really do much about others you need to ensure that your family has the right mindset, they understand this and they are clear on what could happen. You also need to watch out for it in others. People that maybe even at the moment don’t even think there will be any event at all.