Chapter 2 Preview: The Open Door

John looked around the room as he walked up to the front of the meeting hall.  He noticed that many of his co-workers and subordinates were in attendance, that was good.  He had hoped that he would have a good representation from his own groups.  Many in the room recognized John as an “authority” figure, whether or not they reported to him directly. He was, after all, the one leading this meeting and the room began to quiet and focus on John.

Okay folks, I wanted to thank you for coming to this informative meeting. I know that you believe the topic is important, otherwise you wouldn’t have shown up to an optional meeting after-hours. I know most of you have families or other obligations to meet that normally would take this time slot, so I will keep this as quick and to the point as I can.”

Overall, John’s company had a well represented workforce in the tri-city area and based off the initial sign up reports, there were approximately two-hundred-fifty employees interested in the information being talked about this evening, about a third of the overall workforce the company employed locally; they set out three hundred chairs just in case.

Just over a hundred people showed up.

The numbers didn’t matter much to John, as long as the information would be presented.  This was a good opportunity to review many of the things he had been paying more attention to in the last couple months and teaching things had a way of helping solidify the content learned.  Maybe it would help. John was grateful for an avenue to get the information out to a “larger” crowd that might not otherwise know about disaster preparedness. And since a majority of John’s company had a footprint in many of the states across the nation that were effected by natural disasters each year, the company had taken a stance that supported the federal government’s website about disaster preparedness. This year was the company’s “launch year” for passing the information on to their employees and making sure they were informed of the various avenues available to them to get further information.  In a meeting a few months ago with team managers, supervisors and executives, Sean proposed that John take the lead on this matter. Sean had remembered a conversation they had one morning “awhile back” and waxed eloquently about how John cared a lot for his team and the company. Almost unanimously, John was selected as the man to put the whole thing together and speak.

So here he was, in front of about one hundred of his co-workers, employees and colleagues.

“O.K., so as most of you know, our companies workforce in the southern gulf states and on the eastern seaboard have had some interesting times in the last couple years with some major hurricanes and weather systems.  We had plant shut downs, major power outages, and the like.  Even here in Saint’s Town, we had a really bad, freak snowstorm that derailed our way of life for a couple of days.”

He saw a few nodding their heads.

“During those times, we, the company, did as much as we could to help every one of our employees in the effected areas.  For example, payroll was routed from local to corporate to make sure everyone got their paychecks.  We paid for all lost days without counting it towards sick, vacation or leave of absence.  The employees directly effected with damage to homes and property and things like that were able to receive funds from our ‘Assisting Employees in Need Fund’ to help cover the costs of things that maybe their insurance didn’t cover.”

More head nodding.

“So, in tandem with the Federal Government’s “ready” website, we are launching an annual preparedness awareness month in order to help us focus on the things that matter most:  protecting our family and friends during times of crisis.  There will always be a permanent link for you to go to year-round on the company intranet, but annually we will be having meetings like this one to introduce people to the conversation of preparedness, as well as host other meetings that will allow you to get a CPR certification, learn basic skills like how to clean and purify water for drinking or how to use the items in your house to help assist you to being self-sufficient when a disaster strikes.  Do we have any questions so far?”

Nothing.

“O.K., then as you will see on the projector that Tim has set up for me, we have a live feed from our intranet showing the company website…”

John first showed them the location of the new “PREPARE” link in the upper left hand side of the company’s website.  After clicking that link there were two options, one for employees to use, and one for customers or the public to use.  John explained that the employee option asked for their personal login ID and intranet password to give them information regarding upcoming events and other information exclusive to employees; the customer/public link supplied only the information and links that were already available to the public and had an “informational page” on the company’s “story” regarding preparedness, high-line information on “what they do” with their employees to help and also a link to the career center for those interested in working for the company.  John led them through the different areas that the company’s employee link had available and explained the benefits of each area.

After doing the “mandatory” informational piece about the website, John briefly spoke on a wide variety of topics.  Food preparation, family kits, water storage, kits to carry in the car to assist people “getting home” if disaster hit while at work.  John hovered around the constant theme of having a standard 72 hour/three-day supply available, but dropped hints that it would be wise to consider a longer duration. He briefly went into the subject of self-defense, saying that depending on their current needs and desires for preparedness, they might want to consider learning some “basics” of self-defense.  He touched only briefly on it because topics like protection, other than depending on the authorities, weren’t very “hot” on the company’s priorities, nor was it on the federal governments website.

As a way to help everyone “wake up” during the small seminar, John held three random drawings for some first aid kits.  The drawing was done by one of the Human Resource representatives who had assisted in “checking in” everyone who came through the doors.  Everyone who showed up, checked in and got their name entered into the drawing if they chose.  Two of John’s people were among the random winners; John was happy to see that Simmons was one of the two.

John’s friend, Gene Flemming, ran a storefront which specialized in all things related to preparedness.  When John was first putting together the information and format of this introductory seminar, he had consulted with his cousin to compare notes and knock off some of the “rust” John had accumulated during his time away from “prepping”.  A few weeks before the meeting, Gene had offered to give John the kits if he would be allowed to set up a table with some other products related to preparedness.  John happily agreed but told him he would have to clear it with the Human Resources division.  In the end, H.R. agreed.

A few weeks prior to the meeting, John had convinced Sean that in order to demonstrate that the company took this topic seriously and to reflect the generosity of the company, the drawings could not be cheap, meaningless crap.  No candy, no soda can cozies with the company logo on them, nothing like that.  To the untrained mind, the first aid kits might’ve seemed cheap, so during his talk, John had unpacked his own first aid kit, the same one they were giving away, in order to reveal its contents and show the value of the kits the lucky winners received.

At first glance it didn’t look too impressive. A military-type design, olive-drab colored pouch, roughly eight inches long, six inches wide and about four inches in-depth held the contents.  Nitrile gloves, EMT Gloves, Nasopharygneal Airway and accompanying lubricant, a couple 5 x 9 ABD pads, Surgical Tape, a roll of Compress gauze roughly five inches wide and five yards long, ETD Dressings, a TK4 tourniquet and a few two gram packets Hemostatic Granules.

Missing, of course, was the standard packing of a big box store.  There wasn’t thirty different size and shape bandages.  No medical capsules that had half or more of the shelf life already used up.  Nothing like that.  But John showed them that there was room to place some of their own bandages, medicine, etc., in order to “personalize” their own kit.

John concluded his talk with a few closing thoughts on the participants going home tonight, looking in their pantries and fridges and taking an inventory with this thought in mind:  What if we were hit tonight?  Would we have enough on hand to keep up warm, fed, clean and safe for three days?

John thanked the crowd for coming, reminded them to visit the “sponsor of the evening” table and the “information station” for more about the topics he had covered, and stepped away from the front of the room.  There was a small, awkward round of applause as people were standing up and gathering their things.

John grabbed one of the last bottles of water which HR had supplied for the guests in the meeting and sat down behind the “information station”.

Well, it’s a start…  thought John.

A handful or so of people got pamphlets from the table where he sat, nursing the bottle of water.  A few thank you’s were offered to John for speaking, a few questions about the content of the various packets and the company website, the “prepper” cable shows were jokingly brought up by a few visitors to the table too.  From the sound of it, something similar was going on at Gene’s table.

Brady Simmons came up and shook John’s hand, offering his thanks and support for John taking the time to “head up” the seminar.  The two men both took a look at Brady’s prize as John showed him a few key features of the kit.

“You see the webbing here, Brady, that is actually for MOLLE attachments, so you can secure that to your hunting pack it you wanted to.”

“Oh, O.K., very cool!  I was thinking about keeping this as part of my “get home kit”.”

“That’s a real good idea.  Hey, have you ever met Brady?”

“No, I haven’t.  I’ve driven by his shop a couple of times, but have never stopped in there.”

“You should, the man has a wealth of knowledge to share with those who step inside his store looking to provide for their family.”  John motioned for them to go over to Gene’s table.  Gene was putting a few things away as the majority of the participants had left.  Only a few were staying behind, mainly playing grab-ass with some of the executives that had attended the meeting.

“Gene!  Thank’s for coming!”

“No prob John.  My pleasure.”

“Hey, I’d like you to meet Brady Simmons.  He was one of the winners tonight of your kits.”

The two men shook hands.  “Oh, is that so?  Very nice.  Well, here…”  Gene bent down and pulled out a business card from the large box he had brought.  “If you ever have any questions or further needs, feel free to come on by anytime.”

“Thanks, Gene!  I appreciate that.  Well, if you’ll both excuse me,  I’ve got to get on home to the wife.”

“We understand, Brady.”  Said John.  “Tell Melissa I said hello.”

“Will do!”

This has been a preview to chapter 2 of my upcoming novel, tentatively titled:  “Endure”.  Feel free to drop a line, let me know what you think!  What interests you with the topic of preparedness?  Do you do any sort of preparations for your family?  What do you focus on?

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About JustTom

Acta Non Verba.
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