Lt. Col. Herbert E. Lattimore Jr. points to the motto of England's King George IV, who told the public to keep calm and carry on in 1938 when Great Britain faced invasion by the Nazis in the grim early days of World War II.
Lattimore is a retired U.S. Army officer and former educator and social worker who now is the State Training Officer and Coordinator of Emergency Management Assistance for the West Virginia Division of Homeland Security. He was in Logan on Wednesday to discuss proper preparedness and how a cool head makes better decisions in times of crisis. Lattimore said people need to carry on and maintain their lifestyle because it is important for the day to day pace of life to be maintained. He noted that food still needs to be delivered, water pumped and businesses need to be open to provide needed service to the public in the aftermath of wars, terror attacks or natural disasters.
"It has always amazed me at some of the crazy things people do when they panic," he said. "When a fire starts in a building, people will run right past a fire extinguisher trying to get out, or run to the roof or get on an elevator. Don't do that. Keep calm and carry on."
Lattimore discussed common sense ways that people and communities can better prepare to deal with disasters noting that good communications helped as did making lots of friends who can work together. He pointed out that for businesses and government agencies the more information the public has available the better as "when people know what is going on, and know what to do, they will call you less."
Lattimore said people can educate themselves by getting CERT training, and even checking out government web sites that have disaster preparedness information available.
Lattimore said there are many examples of how people got stressed out and panicked in the pages of history. He referred the tremendous scare in October of 1938 when Orson Welles broadcast an adaption of "War of the Worlds" on the radio and people across the U.S. freaked out thinking the country had been invaded for real by Martians.
"People thought it was for real because for months they had been worried about a possible invasion by Germany," he said.
Lattimore said it is very important for businesses to be prepared to stay in business after a disaster strikes because their services can be needed.
"You have to get food and supplies to people," he explained. "The better informed your employees are, the faster you can recover."
Some businesses, such as Lowes, work well with Homeland Security he noted.
Lattimore was the special guest speaker on May 4 for the Logan Rotary Club where he answered questions about disaster preparedness and the importance of staying calm and carrying on with their lives in challenging times.
"We got calls in the winter time when it was below 32 degrees outside from people angry because their groceries were going to spoil when the power went out," he said. "They wanted the government to replace them. But they did not even think about putting them in boxes and setting them out in the snow, where they would not go bad. Many people do not think and are not prepared."