Planning for the unplanned

     There are only two things an officer can be sure of when it comes to mutual aid requests: (1) An officer never knows when the call will come; and (2) Assisting another agency during an emergency is anything but routine.      Mutual aid...


     Administrators should consider the scanning capabilities of vehicle-mounted radios. If they do not cover a wide spectrum or fail to read trunking systems, the patrol car should have a separate scanner capable of receiving a wide spectrum, especially if there is a potential for any air support during the operation.

     It should also be noted that not every agency uses the same abbreviation codes. Mutual aid policies should include instructions to use plain English during transmissions.

     Another viable solution is to create response teams that consist of a local officer grouped with responding officers.

     Officers should carry a portable personal strobe, especially in fire or flood areas, where flares can't be used. This is especially important for evacuations. For large evacuations, have evacuees form groups and give one of them a strobe.

     Three strobes and a trained person is enough to mark a helicopter landing. If helicopters are involved in any way, always bring goggles. This is something that can be easily overlooked, but anyone who has experienced that situation without goggles can attest to the necessity.

     Pelican makes a personal locator strobe that won't take up a lot of space. If the field kit is not large enough for several strobes, consider the personal locator feature of the Streamlight Sidewinder.

     A chemical light or battery-powered glow stick can be used to mark a critical location. Carry a can of spray paint for daytime marking.

Personal needs

     The officers we contacted reiterated the same point: Never rely on the agency asking for support to provide for incoming officers. After all, the agency in need is probably running in emergency mode. Officers should plan for sustained ops with their own resources.

     Planning for sustained ops requires good pre-deployment dialogue. The stuff an officer carries for an assignment at headquarters varies greatly from the items necessary for a remote outpost detail. Normally, no one can say how long officers will be needed, but they can often give the officer an idea of how remote his or her assignment will be.

     Officers should always carry an individual first aid kit that can fit in a cargo packet, a means to carry water, food that can be eaten cold and won't readily spoil, some form of portable shelter that does not require outside structures for support and cash.

     Several officers mentioned carrying MREs (Meals Ready to Eat) because they don't require heat or refrigeration. This supply should be augmented by other low maintenance foods like cans of tuna and dried fruit.

     As is with most enforcement assignments, a means for decontamination is important. While this can simply be a short section of hose and a nozzle, an alternative can be found in the Safetec Personal Clean Up Kit from Galls for sanitization. Officers should also carry a small packet of baby wipes or hand wipes, and thick, resealable sandwich bags, which can be purchased anywhere. These bags are also good for protecting a camera or notebook.

     Shelter, in addition to a freestanding tent, also includes good rainwear. The best bet for an officer is a good Gore-Tex shell jacket that one can layer under in cold conditions.

     Being deployed also means the potential for being off-duty away from home. Officers should have a good off-duty holster or another means of concealing a duty weapon such as the Bianchi model 4411 K.O.2000 Fanny Pack. Its stiffening backplate and neoprene slot allows for a quick and quiet draw.

     Off-duty clothing should be machine washable and layerable for unpredictable weather or social situations.

     Officers should carry at least $100 in cash, so they do not need to rely on ATM availability and are prepared for unpredictable circumstances.

     Every officer we contacted mentioned CamelBak by name for hydration. Its product, the CamelBak Urban Assault Pack, is appropriate for deployment because it does traditional tactical duty like hold extra magazines and cleaning kits in addition to a line of reservoirs. It can also double as a durable laptop or portable office case. The side compartments were designed for CamelBak's line of performance hydration bottles. Above all, it can pass for a tactical or an everyday pack.

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