The Fire Department Is Not Coming

 I retired from Army Special Forces in 2013 and, like many veterans, spent some time trying to find myself. One of the things I did during the past five years was to take the County Community Emergency Response Team course (CERT). (Class #89 for my fellow CERT friends) The instructor wrote something on the board within the first five minutes of this multi week course that has stuck with me ever since, “The Fire Department is not coming!” In the case of CERT, the reality is that, in a community disaster such as a hurricane or earthquake, the fire department will be overwhelmed and local neighborhoods will have to be prepared to take care of themselves. This is true for families, companies, churches, NGO’s, and other groups who have a family member, friend, or colleague go missing. The Fire Department is not coming. The CERT Instructor went on to explain that the Fire Department will come at some point but, depending on the severity of the disaster, it may be hours, days, or weeks before they or other responders can get there. Indeed the Fire Department may come eventually, but if you weren’t prepared, it will be far worse in the end.

       Over the past five years since retiring from Special Forces, I have been on a quest to civilianize the skills I honed as a Special Forces Intelligence Sergeant, and acquire new ones. This quest led me to become a Private Investigator and a Certified Missing and Exploited Child Investigator. I completed a Master of Arts in Diplomacy with an emphasis on international conflict management after finalizing a Bachelor’s of Science in Strategic Studies and Defense Analysis. I completed a civilian focused Kidnap, Ransom, Extortion, and Terrorism Crisis (Hostage) Negotiator course followed on by level one and two of the Law Enforcement Crisis (Hostage) Negotiator course. I pursued search and rescue training, and in the process was able to take the Critical Incident Stress Management course for individuals and groups as well as Psychological First Aid. I did all of this while working and deploying as a government contractor, and starting my own company. The result of this quest and my experiences in uniform following 911, has given me some unique insight and expertise that I want to discuss over the next six months in this blog. I want to emphasize that the statement “The Fire Department is not coming” is really an understatement when we discuss missing persons, kidnappings, human trafficking, organ harvesting, extortion, and combinations of these crimes.

     Over the next six months we will explore topics relating to kidnapping, human trafficking, organ harvesting, extortion, and other forms of captivity. We will discuss the problems internationally and domestically from the victim’s perspective, the governments’ perspective, the family’s perspective, and the perpetrators perspective. We will address the issues, obstacles, and things families should know. We will also explore the long term psychological toll on the victim, the family, and those who are involved in the recovery or rescue. Our posts will be a little less frequent than last year. We look forward to this endeavor.

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