Richard S. Goss on Free Education (Or at Least Cheap)

Wednesday, Oct 19, 2005

The old saying is that if you think education is expensive, try ignorance. Being a proponent of a self-reliant lifestyle like most readers of SurvivalBlog, I find it is sometimes costly to get the training we need to make ourselves better informed. Being basically frugal (read: cheap) I've searched out some ways to get the knowledge I wanted without a large outlay of money.
My first stop in my hunt for knowledge was at the Human Resources office at my place of employment. I discovered that there were several American Red Cross (ARC) first aid and CPR classes offered. The really great thing was that my job classification was one that allowed me to attend class on company time and get trained. Not only free, but paid to learn lifesaving skills useful in almost every survival situation. Now that is not bad deal at all.
I followed up the first aid/CPR class with a call to the local chapter of the Red Cross. For no fee I could sign up for such classes as Introduction to Disaster Services. This class is needed as a prerequisite for most ARC classes in the disaster area. This class is designed to educate the student with an overview of the roll of the ARC in such events as hurricanes to floods that displace whole communities to house fires that displace a single family. Also free of charge are classes like Mass Care, Shelter Operations Workshop, Damage Assessment and Emergency Assistance to Families. Even if the student never volunteers to work with the ARC he can become quite knowledgeable about the operations of their community’s services during a disaster.
For the readers of SurvivalBlog there are other ARC classes that can be of use and the cost is minimal. For $15 there is a class on Preventing Disease Transmission. Other low cost classes (under $30) are: First Aid for Daycare Worker/Infant/child First Aid-Review, Child Abuse Recognition & Prevention, and good old Basic First Aid. The American Red Cross also has other classes that teach among others, Lifesaving and CPR for the Professional Rescuer but the cost on these classes can run well over $125.

Next on the list of free training comes from the federal government. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as a lot of courses that you can study at home, or on line. Courses such as Emergency Preparedness, USA, which help the student evaluate what types of emergencies they are most likely to experience. It helps the student prepare for the disasters that they determine are most likely to happen in their area. Warm clothes and heat sources for the possibility of snowstorms or blizzards in the northern states, or plywood stutters for the coast about to be hit with a hurricane are some of the ideas that are pointed out for students. It is common sense ideas packed in a study manual.
Other courses available are on such subjects as Hazardous Materials, Animals in Disaster, Retrofitting Flood-prone Structures, or Emergency Program Manager. For a list of the home study guides you can write:
Federal Emergency Management Agency
EMI-Independent Study Program
16825 South Seton Avenue
Emmitsburg, Maryland 21727-8998
On the web at: http://www.fema.gov/tab_education.shtm
After the courses are completed FEMA will send the student a nice certificate suitable for framing. In some cases the completed courses are also good for college credit.
My place of employment also sent me to the local branch of the National Safety Council, those Green Cross folks. I attended a seminar on Fire Safety and Confined Space Entry. I also earned a forklift driver’s license through this organization. Since my employer is a member of the council the classes were free of charge and done on work time. The Safety Council offers many classes on industrial safety; many of the classes are useful in any survival situation. Face it, just adding a job skill like driving a forklift helps your personnel survivability in the event of a lay off or plant closing.

My sons showed me another inexpensive way to get some very useful knowledge. They had joined Boy Scouts of America and while they were working on merit badges I flipped through the pamphlet and was surprised at the easy to read booklet and amount of knowledge that it held. Boy Scout merit badge books, there are around a 120, cover subjects from Astronomy to Woodworking. Many of the subjects covered are of use to the person studying to be more self-reliant. Backpacking, Camping, First Aid, Orienteering, Weather, and Wilderness Survival are some of the titles that anyone needing information on can get some quick easy to study knowledge. There are other titles that may also be of use, such as Crime Prevention, Plumbing, Home Repairs, Emergency Preparedness, Rifle and Shotgun Shooting.
I found that my parents were having some land disputes and we needed to talk to a surveyor. I spent the $2 for the Surveying Merit Badge booklet and read it over before we meet with the surveyors. I was able to understand enough of the “trade lingo” to ask the right questions. I discovered that since I understood their language that they were more willing to work with my family than the other folks involved. I couldn’t run a couple of rods of chain and find a corner stake, but I did manage to get the problem resolved to our satisfaction. To develop outdoors skills, working with a local scout troop might be a good idea also. By working with scouts learning to travel in the wilderness, cook outdoors over a fire, build shelters, handy useful knot tying, and working with map and compass can all become basic skills. Boy Scouts also offer leadership training that teaches how to teach the scouts. It is excellent learning, and the cost is usually under $20 for a weekend of hands on training. For information on ordering Boy Scout books and information look in the local phone book or write:
Boy Scouts of America
Supply Division
PO Box 65989
Charlotte, North Carolina 28265-0989
On the web at: www.scouting.org


A friend of mine told me about a class he took at the Criminal Justice Training and Education Center (CJCC.) He worked for the County as a Deputy Dog Warden and was able to take free classes at the CJCC. Since I worked for the county also he wondered if I could take some classes with him. I checked with HR again and yes indeed I could take some classes, for free and on company time, as long as they related to my job. Since not many jobs call for survival skills as part of their skills required, and my maintenance job did not resemble criminal justice training it looked like a dead end. It did work out that I was able to take some classes if I was willing to use vacation days to go. I signed up for classes on Gang Identification and Youth, Drugs and the Community’s Response. Knowing how to spot a gang sign or members and knowing which gang they belong to is much like the old time frontier scouts that could tell which tribe an indian belonged to and could deal better with them. On today’s streets knowledge is a survival skill.
My quest for additional information led me to investigate the local unit of our State Defense Force. I had read an article in the April, 1991 issue of American Survival Guide about State Defense Forces and looked into the one in my area. I joined the local Military Police Battalion and received some excellent training. I was only required to train one 8 hour period a month, generally one Sunday a month and in return I completed Basic Entry Level Training (BELT) class and moved on to other training as well. Attending some full weekend classes I completed the United States Army Reserve Military Police Course. Basic military and police skills are very useful in many survival situations and also add a great deal of self-confidence. Other classes that the Reserves have that I found very useful were Cold Weather and Survival Course, Hazardous Materials Technician Course, and Small Arms Range/Safety Officer Training.In addition to the courses that are offered the monthly drills give an opportunity to use the skills learned in the classroom out in the field for practical application. Land navigation, self-defense, and first aid/buddy aid are routinely re-enforced making those survival skills a strong part of your abilities.
The opportunity for anyone to learn many useful survival skills in out there. The cost for learning these lessons can be very minimal and the skills priceless. The workplace, local Red Cross, local scout troop, or State Defense Force could all add to the storehouse of knowledge, and the cost is very low. In the time of need a cool, well-informed head may be the best survival tool to have.


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