The above picture shows the airlock entrance to a nuclear fallout bunker located in the Edmonton neighborhood of Crestwood. It was build in 1953 due to concerns of nuclear confrontation with Soviet Union and it was designed to house Alberta’s leadership in case of Nuclear war. Today, Edmonton has become a much more of a desired target but preparedness resources have been reduced to minimum.
This article is an excerpt from our one day Disaster Preparedness course. It is published here to help you identify a possible risks in your area that could prove to be life threatening during a disaster. This is a multi-use formula which can be applied to many scenarios and locations. For the purpose of demonstration, the city of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada is used to demonstrate how the Strategic Area Risk Assessment is used.
SARA is divided into five simple and basic points which will enable you to gauge how “bad” can the situation get in an SHTF scenario. SARA can also come in handy if you are thinking of moving to a new town. Using this tool will allow you to make a much more informed decision when buying your next piece of real estate.
B.R.E.A.C. is the acronym which covers all necessary points. BREAC stands for 1) Basics, 2) Risks, 3) Escape/Evasion, 4) Arrival, 5) Calendar
Basics refers to the basics of human existence. The number one thing that no one can live without for more than a minute or so is air. In order for you to be prepared to handle a disaster you must have a good supply of air or be able to create it. It is much more simple to keep away from areas which will contaminate the air we breathe during an accident, terrorist attack, power down etc. Edmonton is known as an “oil” town. On the east side of the city, between Edmonton and a community called Sherwood Park, lies a chain of refineries unofficially named as Refinary Row. The refinery row is dominated by two major refineries and produce approximately 322,000 barrels of oil per day. Oil refineries as well as other industrial sites pose a serious risk of air contamination when toxins are released into the atmosphere during a possible emergency.
The prevailing winds in Edmonton, move from the west to the east which make communities to the west of the city a better bet to live in this case. Towns like Spruce Grove and Stony Plain will have much better chances of survival than Sherwood Park when it comes to air contamination from the refineries.
Water is the second most important item during emergencies. Although the North Saskatchewan river flows through Edmonton, tests have found everything from fecal matter, to phosphorus concentrations to generally toxic conditions. Other water sources in Edmonton in a prolonged grid-down scenario would add up to not much more than rain precipitation collection and water storage prior to the emergency.
Food is another factor which must be considered. Experts tell us that in a grid-down scenario, it will take only a few hours to clean the store shelves out of anything useful and that means relying on stored goods.
Industrial complexes such as refineries or nuclear power plants will always make excellent terrorist targets. This is even more true in Canada where security of these complexes is minimal. If you live near such industrial centers, your disaster preparedness plan must take into considerations possible negative effects arising from their destruction or sabotage.
This point refers to the actual risks posed by your surroundings – potential threats. Anything in your environment that can be identified as a cause of the catastrophe or otherwise trigger prolonged suffering. At this point it should be noted that there may be some risks that are hidden. Sometimes it is like peeling an onion…once you find something that could potentially cause you harm, you might find that your discovery leads to more and more potential problems and these problems require solutions. Edmonton poses many risks. These are some…
As mentioned before, there is the “Refinery Row”. This huge industrial area is dominated by two large refineries totaling about 165 000 barrels per day in oil production. This equates to a large amount of chemicals, sensitive processes, explosive materials and highly flammable products. Furthermore, the security at these complexes is not up to speed given the current global terrorist threat. Any terrorist attack on the Edmonton refinery complex would not only cripple Canadian production, potentially cause billions of dollars in damages and leave thousands killed and injured, but also put a significant dent into the US economy. Also, everyone knows that the current Canadian government has been bringing thousands of refugees in to Canada from questionable backgrounds, with potential terrorist links. An airborne attack such as what we have seen in New York on September 11th 2001, would not only have deadly consequences but would be a lot easier to orchestrate that the 9/11 attacks. Even a small two-seater Cessna with a few pounds of explosives, well aimed into the heart of the refinery complex could cause explosions and fires that would make the 9/11 attacks in New York look like a walk in the park. Such an airplane could easily take off from any of the many small airfields throughout Alberta or neighboring provinces. The proximity of Edmonton international airport would make a Boeing overshoot a runway and perform an aimed landing into the refineries an easy task. This would cause a calamity so catastrophic that the authorities wouldn’t have time to even think about responding.
Edmonton is also home to Canadian Forces Base Edmonton, houses the headquarters of the 3rd Canadian Division, responsible for the defense of Western Canada. This makes CFB Edmonton one of the largest concentrations of military hardware and manpower in Canada. This fact brings Edmonton to the forefront as a possible nuclear target in case of hostilities with another nation such as North Korea or worse, Russia. In his book “Strategic Relocation”, Joel Skousen, a former US Marine Corps pilot, political scientist and preparedness expert, outlines and marks all possible nuclear targets in North America. According to Skousen, the second nuclear target is Cold Lake, which houses the 4 (Fighter/Interceptor) Wing of the Royal Canadian Air Force. Canada, being part of NATO, currently has troops stationed in Ukraine as part of operation UNIFIER to “deter Russian aggression” and schedulled to wrap up in March 2019. Therefore, if push came to shove, it wouldn’t be all that unrealistic for Russia, which has the capability, to launch an attack on Edmonton and therefore accomplishing the following: a) destroying a large part of Canadian military responsible for the defense of Western Canada, b) destroying a major Canadian industrial base and at the same time severely damaging the flow of US oil imports. This would leave the west wide open and American getting quite cranky. Many military analysts believe that a large scale strike on Edmonton, whether terrorist or by a foreign nation, is not a question of if, but when.
3) ESCAPE / EVASION
The quickest way to get out of dodge or deciding to shelter in place is always going to be a very important part of your Disaster Preparedness Plan (DPP). In the “RISKS” section, we learned that Edmonton is a likely terrorist or military target. Escape/Evasion plan should be based on the above points. Ideally your place of residence is located close to the edge of the city where dirt or side roads will lead you out of the danger area safely. These escape routes should be traveled at least every two months and at least once per week if danger is imminent. Residents who live in the outlying towns surrounding Edmonton will have to deal with an influx of refugees. Most importantly, you need to known what you are going to do when disaster strikes. How long is it going to take you to “get out” and what are the possible hold-ups. Where are the alternate routes and if you are part of a larger preparedness group, how will you meet up with all members…
If you had a sound DP plan based on the SARA system, you should have arrived at your predetermined location safely. This is a time to tend to any injuries and required mechanical repairs if there are any. You must also begin making your alternate location practically habitable for the members of your group and begin to stabilize your existence in anew and very different environment. If a complete breakdown in your society has taken place, you will have to settle in for the long haul. Hopefully you have ore oared this location well ahead f time and do not have to worry about food, water and all other necessities and therefore are able to give your full attention to your group. Ensure everyone has what they need to make it through the next few hours and begin planning for the future.
Calendar refers to the final point which is a start to a new life. Once you made it to your alternate location, injuries have been taken care of or at least stabilized, everyone has had enough to eat, found a place and time to rest, it is time to think about the future. At this point there should be an actual calendar which will mark the number of days you have been away from home. It will also mark scheduled duties that must take place and routines to establish. Keeping people busy with constructive tasks and rewarding them for a job well done will be very important since after every “high intensity” event, there will be a period depression or break down. These times may be most difficult for your family or group since no one knows what the future holds and if they can ever come back to their old way of life. Gather information and keep your people informed as much as possible and keep in mind that if a plan is in place and you know what the long term objectives are, they much easier to reach them.
This article is by no means complete in terms of establishing a well though out DP but the above points are vital basics around which an outstanding DP plan can be build. When the SHTF situations knocks on your door, it will be too late to think up a backup plan. Our world is much less stable than it was even ten years ago and things are not getting better.
In closing, remember that military installations, nuclear power plants, oil refineries and communication infrastructure will always be targeted first in a military strike or invasion. General welfare of the population will be destroyed second and larger cities will be easier to strike than smaller towns. Natural disasters are much more indiscriminate and essentially anything goes.
Nothing is guaranteed, but suffering can be greatly minimized if you plan well.