Planning & Funding
Every political jurisdiction should have funds set aside (or assets that can be quickly and easily liquidated) to use in the event of a disaster or emergency. Mayors, Governors, Presidents, or any other government official should never be required to declare disasters in order to open the way for any federal or other source of funding.
The amount of money set aside in such disaster funds would be based on a percentage of the average yearly cost of disasters over an extended period of time, for example, the last 25 years. It would be required that all these emergency accounts be recalculated and fully funded/maintained each year. The percentages can very, but the general idea is as follows: cities would set aside and maintain funds equivalent to 50% of the 25-year average yearly costs of disasters and emergencies that have occurred in that city. Counties would set aside a fund equivalent to 100% of their average yearly costs, states would set aside 500%, and countries would set aside a prudent amount, or if they are members of larger, international organizations, each country could set aside 1000% of the average. This way, all jurisdictions, except for those paying less than 100% (namely, cities), pay, on average, the true costs of living or otherwise operating in that area. Such policies as these would encourage better planning of activities and construction of infrastructures to minimize risks and better survive disasters and other emergencies.
Let’s assume that over the past 25 years, the average cost of disasters in the city of Los Angeles was $50 million. This means that the city of Los Angeles would have been required to have $25 million in the bank (50% of $50 million) or somewhere where such an amount could be immediately (within one month) liquidated. Let’s say that the 25-year average costs for county disasters were $200 million, requiring it to have $200 million maintained in the bank because of the 100% requirement. Let’s also say that the 25-year average cost of disasters in the state of California is $1 billion. California would then have been required to have 500% of this amount ($5 billion) continually ready for use (able to be liquidated within 12 months) for an emergency. If the 25-year average cost of disasters in the US is $20 billion, then $200 billion would need to have been set aside (and able to be liquidated within 5 years).
The governments of these various political entities would be the primary insurers of all public and private infrastructures (commercial and residential structures, public buildings, natural gas, water, electrical, telephone infrastructure, roads and bridges, etc.). The contents of infrastructures, like furniture and computers would not be covered. This money would be used to repair or replace infrastructures that were damaged or destroyed as a direct result of the major disaster. Losses due to localized disasters like individual house fires or car or airplane crashes into buildings would not be covered. Widespread fires, flooding, or any major destruction that occurred as a direct result of an earthquake, for example, would be covered.
All claimants would be required to pay a 10% deductible for each valid claim. Lost business revenues, lost wages, and other such indirect losses resulting from the disaster would not be covered. Medical costs directly attributed to the disaster or emergency would also be covered. Private insurance would need to have been obtained to provide coverage for building contents, and, if desired, to cover the cost of the 10% deductible required for acceptance of the public insurance payout.
Let’s say, for example, that a $100 billion disaster hits the city of Los Angeles. Using this system of insurance, Los Angeles would be required to pay the first $25 million of emergency expenses that occur in one year. Los Angeles County would then begin to pay any costs over $25 million, and up to $200 million. California would then begin to pay all costs, over the first $200 million, up to $5 billion. The US Federal government would pay anything over $5 billion.
As a result of the $100 billion disaster in our Los Angeles example, the amount of money required in the mandatory emergency/disaster reserves would need to be recalculated. Assuming that everything stays the same and that the rate and costs of disasters stays remains steady for the next 25 years, as I assumed they did in the previous 25 years, then as a result of this $100 billion disaster in the city of Los Angeles, the new required disaster reserve amounts wound be as follows. The city of LA would need to maintain a $2.025 billion account. $100 billion divided by 25 years equals a 25-year yearly average cost of $4 billion per year. But the city only needs to maintain 50% of this amount, $2 billion. To this amount we add $25 million which is equal to 50% of the normal yearly disaster costs resulting from the normal, ‘background’ disaster costs of the previous 25 years. Los Angeles county’s new rate would be $4.2 billion ($100 billion/25 years = $4 billion per year + $200 million from normal ‘background’ disaster levels = $4.2 billion total county fund to maintain for the next 25 years assuming no change in the ‘background’ disaster levels of $200 million per year.) California would need to maintain an emergency account containing $25 billion for each of the next 25 years ($4 billion x 500% = $20 billion + $5 billion = $25 billion total). The US Federal government would need to maintain an account with around $240 billion ($200 billion for ‘background’ disaster costs + $40 billion ($4 billion x 1000%) for this new event) or whatever it thinks would be prudent. The US federal government would be the ultimate insurer unless the United States is nested within a larger, international network of insured countries.
This system can also be used to pay for environmental cleanup costs due to groundwater or subterranean pollution, oil spills, etc. Unless the costs of disasters, emergencies and/or environmental cleanup operations exceed the amount of money that that jurisdiction is supposed to have set aside for that year, no money should be given to that jurisdiction for these purposes. If the cost of disasters for one year in the city of Los Angeles was $51 million, the city would pay $25 million and the county would pay $26 million.0 Comments
Firefighters and Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT) should be merged into the same profession and be equally qualified.
The goal should be to house at least one ambulance in every station. Since most emergency calls are for medical services, it is reasonable for ambulances to be housed at all existing fire stations, unless a hospital-based ambulance is able to cover the same geographical area within 25% of the time as one housed at a fire station.
The number of fires have declined consistently over the decades and the trend is likely to continue and the vast majority of firefighter responses are to medical emergencies. Because fire stations will increasingly become too limited a term, it would be more accurate to call these places ’emergency stations’.
These emergency stations should also be places that people could come to to receive critical emergency medical services. Of course, there would be no guarantee that anyone will be there because they may all be out on calls.
If a station receives a medical emergency call, the required number of members to staff the emergency station’s ambulance would load up and take the ambulance to the medical emergency. If, while the ambulance is in the field, another medical call comes in, the fire fighting team would load into their firetrucks (the only remaining vehicles at the station) with the required number of firefighters and go to that medical emergency. Since the fire fighting equipment is being taken, all members of the fire team would be required to go to this call, even though it is only a medical emergency. This is because a fire call could come in at any time and since it would be a waste of time to go back to the station and pick up any remaining crew, the entire crew needs to already be together as they roll out to answer the medical call in case a potential fire call comes in later. The idea is for the ambulance to be the default vehicle to respond to medical emergencies and not the firetrucks. Most of the time, the ambulance will be able to go and return in time for the next medical emergency. More often than not, this will save the fire trucks and the overly large fire fighting crew (usually 3 or 4) from responding to a medical call which only need two people.
Since, ideally, the firefighters and ambulance crews would be trained identically the same in the future (according to this proposal as stated above), the personnel at fire stations could work out a fair schedule to divide the responsibility for doing ambulance duty and rotate often so that the more frequent medical calls do not overburden any of the emergency station staff and lead to a more harmonious coexistence among the staff.
Emergency Station Locations
Emergency stations (mainly fire stations and ambulance stations) should be located at intervals that allow for a maximum 4-minutes response time throughout 75% of their urban/suburban coverage area. However, fire emergencies require more equipment and more space for their storage at stations, and such short response time requirements may not be practical because it would require too many expensive stations, although it should be strived for. Nevertheless, perhaps a fire response time should be set to 6 minutes throughout 75% of their urban/suburban coverage area. Medical emergencies, being by far the most common are also the most critical because it usually directly involves vital human health and often potential brain damage due to loss of oxygen whereas fire emergencies, while they could also involve direct human safety, usually only involve burning structures from which people have already escaped.
Furthermore, given the established location of fire stations, it would be easier to site additional, separate, stand alone ambulance stations because they require smaller lots. Perhaps they could even be sited in people’s home garages, with the ambulance personnel ‘renting’ an additional room in the house, or something. The addition of these ambulance stations, combined with existing ambulances already stationed at some fire stations, hospitals and perhaps other locations, could easily result in response times within 4 minutes for most urban/suburban areas.
Urban, Suburban, Rural Definitions
Because of fundamental resource limitations, it is not possible to provide the same fast response times to every inhabitant in rural areas as can be provided to urban/suburban areas. This is naturally because the lower population densities of rural areas would not justify the expense of additional stations for the relatively few people in its coverage area. But there must be a clear definition of urban/suburban and rural so that precise cartographic information is generated to determine the proper siting of stations.
For purposes of this specific policy proposal, the terms urban and suburban are combined to urban/suburban and are used to describe an area with relatively small parcels of land used for commercial and residential purposes and which are adjacent to each other. ‘Rural’ lands would be such lands as large parks, general agricultural lands, stables, rivers, washes, airports, undeveloped public lands, mines, and other such parcels of lands that have a relatively low population density. Such ‘rural’ lands would not be able to constitute more than 10% of the total amount of land within the defined service area of an ‘urban/suburban’ emergency station. Emergency stations which service areas that contain a higher percentage of such ‘rural’ parcels of land could be defined as rural areas and, depending on the actual percentage of ‘rural’ area in relation to the overall area of the service area, could be allowed a lower percentage of that service area (like 50% or even 25%) to meet the required 4-minute or 6-minute response time. This longer response time would be directly due to the increase travel time neeeded to reach these ‘rural’ inhabitants.0 Comments
The entire population of every society, including immigrants, but especially including primary school children, should be required to go through an educational course and pass tests on how to behave during times of civil emergencies when social regulatory institutions may have lost control. Each person should also be educated in the psychology of populations during these times so that they are extra careful about how not to act. There should be zero tolerance for populations going wild and committing crimes during civil emergencies.
Each person should be taught that emergencies such as these present enormous profit opportunities for anybody with a recording device, especially a video camera, and the will to document the commission of these crimes. This is because (as is stated elsewhere in these proposals) after the emergency, the holders of such video tapes or other documentation would be able to turn over such evidences to law enforcement. The people who make recordings which play a major or critical part in leading to the conviction of criminals would then get a sizable percentage of the penalty that those criminal would be levied, (perhaps 20%, larger than the 10% informants would get under normal circumstances).0 Comments
Ambulances, fire and police departments, and other emergency responders should be able to have immediate access to the floor plans and layout of all buildings and infrastructures within their jurisdictions. This way, while on their way to respond to any types of emergency, the emergency responders would already know how the house, building, or other infrastructure is laid out (where all walls, stairs, doors, windows, etc., are located). This would enable a far quicker and more effective response by emergency crews, saving valuable time and minimizing confusion during emergencies. Perhaps city or county government building safety agencies could be responsible for maintaining such an up-to-date database that emergency responders could access when needed, immediately and remotely, while in route to the location. A ‘virtual’ database enabling a virtual ‘walk-through’ would perhaps best prepare emergency responders for the scene.
Any changes to the floor plans of any building should be registered with the responsible agency within one year of completion so that such data could be included in the database for emergency responders to access. The property owner would be responsible for submitting updated records to the responsible agency. Property owners should themselves be required to keep a copy of such records (perhaps in the form of a flash drive) with their ownership documents both for reference and safekeeping.0 Comments
Distributed, or decentralized, electrical power generation should be much more common for both public safety and convenience during both small- and large-scale emergencies. This on-site generation of electricity need not necessarily be required to provide the energy needs of each consumer, but it should provide at least a fairly significant portion of their electrical usage. Photovoltaic, geothermal and wind generated sources or even battery storage captured from conventional grid generation during off peak hours could serve as possible buffer sources that would allow a comprehensive but robust supply of a functional amount of electrical energy to be supplied when virtually all long distance power lines have failed. Of course, the more local the power line failure is, the less any given consumer would be able to rely on any electrical grid, regardless of how small. In such cases, reliance must be entirely on that consumer’s own generation capacity.
An additional benefit arising from this proposal is the reduction of the amount of aesthetic pollution from power lines. The number of such lines could be reduced because distributed power generation, especially in combination with battery storage technology, would necessitate less of a need for infrastructure with a high enough capacity to handle the delivery of the entire potential peak load of electrical power to an area, plus a safety margin. Reliance on battery technology (conventional alternative energy generation sources are not reliably enough) would enable an infrastructural design capacity of perhaps 50% of the current capacity because much of the power needed during peak demand would be supplied by batteries which would have captured that power from base generators during times of low demand.
Such an infrastructure would be much more versatile during periods of local or systemic disruption. Individual consumers would rapidly be able to adjust their usages based on the available power generated from their installed alternative energy sources or battery systems. Blackouts would be uncommon. Instead, plenty of power would be available, even if using battery systems alone, for the essential electrical needs such as for communication devices and basic lighting.
Perhaps some of the most promising larger scale solutions to filling in the temporal supply gaps that are fundamental limitations of most renewable energy generators would be technologies such as the Liquid Metal Battery or perhaps even compressed air energy storage systems (perhaps subterranean where appropriate formations allow).
ElectroMagnetic Pulses are very real threats that can come from severe solar storms or from human designed attacks (such as from high altitude nuclear explosions) and which could severely damage significant portions of any society’s electrical infrastructure, leading to recovery times that could potentially take as long as months. To design infrastructures without an inherent built-in safety against these threats is short-sighted and negligent. Transformers, electrical substations, critical computers and all other critical infrastructures need to be hardened (protected) against the sudden incredible surges in power that would result in such situations.0 Comments
Residential owners and renters should be required to stockpile enough essential living supplies (water, foods, medicines, clothing, etc.) to last for at least 3 days to survive during emergencies when travel is impossible and utilities have been cut off. Schools and businesses should also store enough supplies for all their students and workers to last at least two days. Yearly inspections by the government should insure that such supplies are up-to-date and adequate.
It should also be required that all houses and buildings in areas where hurricanes are likely, store supplies which may be needed to protect property from significant damage during the storm. Things like wood sheeting to board up windows that property may need to withstand a hurricane should be required by law and should be checked every few years by law enforcement.0 Comments
This emergency alert system should be discontinued due to the massive number of different, and more effective, means available for the public to become informed of important events or emergency information.
However, if this system is to continue in operation, tests of the system should be done infrequently but at predictable, regular time intervals. The tests should occur on standardized, agreed upon days of the month such as on the first day of every month or the 15th day of every month. The time should also be predictable, like at 3 o’clock in the morning. The greater the number of times that people are exposed to practice runs of this system, the more insensitive they become to it, and the less effective it will become as a means to attract public attention during a real emergency.0 Comments
To slow or prevent draw downs of the reserve requirements of the modern banking system, penalty fees could be assessed on withdrawals that occur during times of high currency demand. The lower the banking system’s percentage of available cash on hand in relation to total deposits, the higher the penalty fee would be. For example, if the reserves in the banking system fall to half the generally required minimum of 10% of assets (5%), penalty fees equal to 1% of withdrawals could perhaps be charged to customers. If reserves fall to 2%, perhaps the withdrawal fees could rise to 5%, and if they fall to 1%, penalties of 10% could be assessed. The deduction of these fees from customer withdrawals would cause customers to reduce or postpone withdrawals, thus increasing the chances that the economic crisis will pass before large amounts of money are withdrawn.
Conversely, deposit bonuses could be offered by banks to encourage people to deposit funds during such critical times.
Similar principles could be applied to the trading and pricing of securities. Once exceeding a certain rate of price decline, the faster the price of a security falls, the higher a penalty fee charged to individuals wishing to sell it at that time. Conversely, taxes and other charges could be reduced or eliminated to encourage people to purchase securities during such critical times.0 Comments
Farmers should be able to buy however much insurance they feel they need in order to protect themselves against very low market prices. Farmers could choose the amount of insurance they want by determining at what minimum price they are willing to sell the commodity they produce. The lower the price the farmer chooses, the lower the premiums paid on the insurance, and vice versa. When the market price of the commodity falls below the stated insurance policy guaranteed price, the insurance policy would pay the farmer the difference between the two prices. This same principle could be applied to many other industries.
Other Industries Could Do the Same
Other industries like oil producers, nuclear power generators, mining companies, etc., could also create their own insurance system in which every covered participant pays into a fund proportionally according to their participation rate in the market (or other agreed statistic). This way, the cost of accidents which would easily bankrupt a company would be spread out among all the participant in that industry. The logic for this is that taxpayers should never have to bail out any company due to an accident, like the BP Gulf blowout on 2010. The largest nest of people held accountable should be the industry. The government should pay out only in very extreme examples and only if it can be shown that they have been at least partly at fault.0 Comments
All people who go into dangerous or very remote areas such as volcanoes or wilderness areas should take with them 2-way radios, cell phones, or other means of communication or at least some other means of transmitting an electronic emergency beacon that could be used to help search crews locate the missing person(s) faster. People who do not carry such devices should be required to pay a larger portion of any search and rescue operation that is undertaken in the event they get lost.0 Comments
Elevators in all buildings should be required by law to have either backup emergency power supplies, a manual crank for passengers to use to raise or lower the elevator, or some other method for passengers to safely exit the elevator during power outages or other emergencies. Perhaps all elevators should be designed with an emergency escape door so that regardless of where the elevator becomes stuck, passengers would be able to safely escape.0 Comments