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When disaster strikes: Seniors learn survival skills from National Guard

PLATTSBURGH — There’s no better way to learn how to survive disasters than from survival experts.

Team 6 Army National Guard Specialist David Lima and Lt. Kevin Valenti gave seniors the skinny on the do’s and don’ts in a Citizen Preparedness Corps presentation Tuesday at the Clinton County Senior Center.

“It’s a joint task force,” said Valenti, who is based in Latham.

“It’s not just us and the Air Force — there are also civilian entities that we work with, the Red Cross.

“For this specific mission, we are getting paid by the Army National Guard but we are also working with other agencies in the teamwork function.”


Seniors learned how to have tools and resources to prepare for any type of disaster, respond accordingly and recover as quickly as possible to pre-disaster conditions, according to training literature.

Lima and Valenti average 150 presentations a year and travel from here to south of Albany and halfway between Albany and Syracuse to prep New Yorkers for disasters, natural and human-made.

“We’re just getting a little bit more awareness out and helping citizens to prepare for disasters,” Valenti said.

“We run drills with local municipalities, basically getting ready for those disasters. The most important part of disaster preparedness is actually preparing for that disaster.”


Seniors learned how to build an individualized survival “Go Kit” for each member of their family, including pets.

The kits contain items that will allow people to survive on their own from seven to 10 days and include food, water and medications.

The Go Kit can be assembled in a backpack for fast evacuation.

Contents include: gauze, Ace bandage, medical tape, antiseptic wipes, bottle of saline, medical gloves, assorted Band-Aids, whistle, work gloves, eye goggles, emergency blanket, extra batteries, dust mask, sanitation wipes, manual can opener, flashlight with batteries, multi-tool with pliers, crank-operated emergency radio, reflective vest and sleeping bag.


Though the seniors learned how to prepare for their sustenance, hygiene and tool needs, Lima also talked about the emotional aspects of disasters.

“We are all going to feel different ways after a disaster,” he said.

“Some of us are going to be, like, ‘Yeah, we did it.’ Others of us are going to be like, ‘That’s a lot work.’  Pay attention to how you are feeling, and the people around you. 

“Sometimes all it takes is to just say, ‘Are you okay? You need help?’”

Lima said his wife knew the drill.

“Every time I came home, cookies were made, and we watched Lifetime,” he said. “So, she knew. 

“If you are able to get prepared so that you don’t need that much help, you will not only be able to help yourselves but help your neighbors, and your neighbors will be able to help the rest of your community.”

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