"Strong reasons make strong actions." - William Shakespear
Search & Rescue Kit
Helena earthquake 1935
My back-alley neighbors live in a huge brick mansion that was constructed during the height of the gold mining era in my town. The home, a fabulous four-story work of art, was about 50 years old when the town was rocked by a series of earthquakes in 1935. Every single time I take the garbage out to the dumpster, I'm reminded of that earthquake, because half of that house fell down. The demarcation between the original 1880s brick and the newer 1930s brick is striking, and it splits the house right down the middle.
If ever a similar earthquake shakes that house apart a second time, I would want to be ready to help pull my neighbors out of the rubble without having to spend time running around the ruins of my own home trying to find my shoes, my pants, a flashlight, a crow bar, a hard hat and so forth. So I made up a search and rescue kit in order to have key supplies at my fingertips. Stored permanently underneath my back porch in a waterproof Rubbermaid tub, the kit will still be accessible even if my entire home crumbles in a quake. I resisted the urge to store the kit in my basement because I worried that the house might collapse into the basement. At the very least, the basement door might be jammed shut. (I hung an axe permanently above the basement door just in case that ever happens.)
The experts advise against doing any sort of search-and-rescue on your own; leave it to the pros, they say. At the same time, the experts also point to the fact that about 90% of emergency response is handled by the bystanders who happen to be there when the problem occurs. Realistically speaking, if I can hear anybody screaming from under the rubble, whether it's my family members, neighbors, perfect strangers, or even my pets, I'm going to have a hard time standing around waiting for someone to show up, while in the meantime, somebody is bleeding to death. In my town, the ratio of emergency responders to citizens is about 1,000 to 1, which is typical, but it doesn't offer very good odds if you're the one trapped in the wreckage of your home and rapidly losing consciousness due to blood loss.
Like all the Armageddon supplies in my home, the items in my search and rescue kit were gleaned from many trips to second hand and cut-rate outlets, so the cost was minimal. Total cost of assembling a search and rescue kit: $100. Saving someone's life: priceless.