Dealing with Disasters

Unexpected disasters are a part of life. Sometimes disasters are personal like the unexpected loss of a loved one, job loss, home fire, or flood. Other times nature throws a curveball in the form of earthquakes or tsunamis, or accidents happen like the recent oil train derailment. 

Being prepared and having the right people in the right place at the right time strengthens our response and recovery. Bud Pierce’s unique personal and professional training make him the right person at the right time for Oregon’s future.

Part of how well we respond to disasters depends on how much we have actually practiced responding to traumas and various scenarios. Dr. Pierce was a Marine before he became a doctor. He practiced the drills, practiced how to respond under sleep deprivation and extreme fatigue. That’s the kind of practice needed to build muscle memory, so when you are under duress you can respond appropriately despite your adrenaline. Few leaders have practiced emergency preparedness under military direction. Sure, they run through some exercises as elected leaders, but typically they practice 9:00 a.m. to ­5:00 p.m. with lunch breaks. That kind of practice doesn’t build the same muscle memory that’s needed for automated response and leadership under stressful conditions. 

His reaction was developed further in his training as a physician. Again, practicing and treating trauma is a part of every doctor’s training and they practice over the course of their residency, call, and career. Even if they end up practicing in a specialty area like oncology, they never forget how to react and respond as a first responder because the muscle memory was built by repetition throughout their medical training. 

It wasn’t unusual that an oncologist like Dr. Pierce was able to react sensibly under stress when he encountered a head on collision this past May. He was the first to arrive and assisted in pulling the victim from the car and performed CPR. When asked about his response he noted, “I’ve never done that before in public. I did this in medical training about 20 years ago. Citizens have to be ready, and I was a regular citizen listening to the dispatcher.” 

Bud Pierce is the type of regular citizen we need to ensure our state moves forward at a faster pace in our disaster preparedness plan. Our infrastructure is broken due to neglect and needs repairs; our response to an emergency hinges on the skillset of our highest office. Bud has built the skills needed to lead under duress, not from mock practice, but real life experience.