In Issue 28 of RECOIL OFFGRID, we wrote a feature on Operation: Dark Winter (ODW) — a senior-level government exercise from June 2001 that simulated a bioterrorism attack in the United States using smallpox as its agent of choice. Its findings were discouraging to say the least.

The results of the ODW study revealed a gut-wrenching reality that many Americans weren’t aware of until COVID-19 found its way here — we as a nation are drastically ill-prepared for pandemics. Problems range from a lack of sufficient training, delays in developing vaccines or drugs to treat a new illness, and the collateral damage it causes to our infrastructure and commerce.

Fast-forward to 2020, and the world has seen firsthand how devastating the effects of a highly communicable disease can be on every aspect of human life. The question now remains, how can we prepare for the next wave or another outbreak with a contagion that’s even deadlier?

The Setup: In a matter of months, the COVID-19 pandemic wreaked havoc on the United States. Businesses and schools closed. Workers were furloughed and laid off. Students and parents had to adapt to online learning. There was a run on groceries; some items sold out immediately with very little replenishment. Firearms and ammunition sales spiked, and first-time gun owners realized how difficult it was to purchase a firearm, not only due to legal formalities, but also because many retailers were left with nothing but empty display cases.

Hospitals were not only overwhelmed with new admissions, but the staff was often limited and, in some cases, quit for fear of exposure. Medical supplies were also depleted quickly due to a shortage in the national stockpile and the fact that many were made overseas. Our economy took a huge hit, and the unemployment rate is still high. With rumors of certain jobs not being reinstated, there’s a lingering fear that another recession is on the horizon.

The Complication: If another pandemic happened, how would you prepare for it, drawing on your experiences and what you witnessed with the COVID-19 pandemic? What if a new pandemic involved a disease with an even higher mortality rate? What would you stock up on, and how many weeks’ worth of supplies would you keep on hand? How can you better prepare financially for another period of indefinite employment? Who would you rely on for accurate information regarding the status of the pandemic? How would you protect your health during necessary ventures into public places? What can you do to bolster your medical knowledge and preparedness if you’re forced to stay at home and medical help and supplies are limited?

First Responder Joey Nickischer’s Approach

Having just gone through an “easy” pandemic, namely COVID-19, and having tested my preparations on multiple fronts, I have to say that I’m happy to have had a “warmup round” before the next wave hits us. Not only will you and I be better prepared, but the government and private sector will be

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