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You’re Ready. Is Your Family?
By Bruce Kovach, Federal Bureau of Prisons Mission Analyst
Published: 05/26/2014

Evacuation route sign I have worked in corrections for twenty-seven years. Twenty-two of them as a Lieutenant in a wide variety of positions. I’ve covered the operations desk, worked investigations, supervised the special housing unit, and did eleven years as a Special Operations Response Team member and leader. These days I work at ESF #13, which, in a nutshell is the arm of the Department of Justice which coordinates federal law enforcement assistance to the States in times of national disasters. In case you are wondering, ESF #13 is headed by the ATF and currently has a full time staff from a number of DOJ Departments and Agencies working here in the National Coordination Center and in the Field Offices. Along with the ATF there are people from the Bureau of Prisons, and the U.S. Marshals Service. When activated, ESF #13 is supported by 82 DOJ agencies that provide sworn law enforcement personnel for the boots on the ground operation.

Now, having said all that, I’ll get to my point. The main thing I was taught as a rookie officer and have spent the last twenty-six years trying to instill in myself and all the staff I’ve had the opportunity work with, is to always be ready for the unexpected. If you work in corrections, law enforcement, or any other field which responds to emergencies you’ve been told to be prepared and prepare your family. I’m sure you’ve told your family that you may have to work overtime if something bad happens, you may have also told them you may be hurt or have bad things happen to you on the job. But have you prepared them to look out for themselves in the event there is an incident which not only affects you on the job but the community where you live? So who looks out for our families while we’re looking after others? Good questions aren’t they?

If you live in tornado alley or in the hurricane prone areas, most likely, you and your family are more prepared than I am in the “nothing ever happens” Northeast. Nonetheless, we must, that’s right MUST, prepare our family, from the youngest to the oldest, how to look out for themselves when bad things happen.

Talking to our family about bad things happening is something we all want to avoid, even more so than the talk about the birds and bees with the kids. I’m not going to sit here and dictate to you how to prepare for the “What If’s,” that might occur in your life. My preparations here on the East Coast will be much different from those of you living on the West Coast. The “Talk” with the family doesn’t have to be scary and doesn’t have to be done in one big long session. It could start with something as simple as teaching the kids where the flashlights are when the lights go out, then progress to home fire drills for instance. Then move on to where to go in the event of a hurricane or tornado. By the way, that is what the professionals might call, Shelter In Place or an Emergency Evacuation. I could go on and on here but I think you are seeing my point. So, in closing, all I’m saying is know the risks (the What If’s) you and your family face in your little corner of the world and prepare for them.

Bruce Kovach has worked in corrections for 27 years. Before that, he spent 10 years as a career Paramedic/Firefighter and served the communities he has lived in as a volunteer emergency responder for over thirty-five years. He is currently a Bureau of Prisons Mission Analyst at the ESF #13 National Coordination Center located in Washington, DC. He can be contacted via e-mail at: Bruce.Kovach@atf.gov

Other articles by Kovach:


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