Even First Responders Can Become Disaster Victims, Atlanta Ice Storm Jan 2011
“I’m trained in CPR and always thought of myself as a first responder and a caretaker of others, but during Atlanta’s ice storm in January, 2011 I was the one who ended up needing assistance”, reflects Dr. Benjamin Albright. The icy parking lot in front of his busy Marietta chiropractic office lay at the bottom of a hill, hundreds of yards from the main street. “My feet flew out from underneath me. I fell flat on my back, and lay there in the parking lot unable to move I was so wracked with pain.” With no other employees, patients, or personnel around Dr. Albright lie there for nearly five hours before being rescued. “Basically, I worked on remaining conscious and calm. Slowly the ice numbed my pain and I was finally able to ease my cell phone out of my pocket and call 911.” Dr. Albright suffered a herniated disc, no laughing matter although the irony was not lost on him. “I have a great chiropractor!” he quips.
Dr. Albright’s advice? “Don’t be a martyr or a hero. Unless you have a well-thought out safety plan for reporting to a job where your service is absolutely essential; stay home. Wireless technology and computers make it possible to do a wide range of business tasks from home. “While I was lying on the ice, my colleagues and staff were getting bookkeeping done, catching up on email, and doing professional reading,” Albright reports.
If you must work during a weather disaster:
- Listen to the weather reports for alerts, warnings and watches and be ready to change your plans.
- If you must travel, be certain your cell phone is charged and you’re going to a location where you can get a signal.
- Tell someone where you are traveling to and when you expect to return.
- Wear appropriate clothing in the event you have to walk, wait or otherwise be outdoors in bad weather.
- Keep basic safety equipment in your car such as a flashlight, matches, a small shovel, a blanket, bottled water and high-protein energy bars.
Judith Kolberg, Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Volunteer
Author, Organize for Disaster: Prepare Your Family and Your Home for Any Natural or Unnatural Disaster