Saturday, August 10, 2013

The Swiss Example of Preparedness


Swiss basement emergency shelter with blast door.

        My husband's family is Swiss, and in part, because of this, we have a lot of Swiss friends.  Interestingly, a lot of these friends are engineers, like my husband, and so they have been helpful not only as good friends, but professionally as well.  I miss one couple who returned to Switzerland after their kids were grown, very much.  There are still a few Swiss friends we have locally.  Between the horses, my job, our family, the clinic, and other things I do, I haven't been keeping up with them as well as I would like.
                 The Swiss are remarkable people. They remained neutral during the war, and this meant that they needed to be extremely vigilant and well trained to avoid invasion. This helped to evolve a system in which all men and women, upon maturity provide service of several years to the Swiss military. ** All of them learn to handle a rifle and shoot very well, and are required to have weapons in their homes forevermore. There is also a military reserve that many Swiss adults belong to for much of their lives.  Although children in school do receive instruction in preparedness, the military teaches high level disaster preparedness to all of its soldiers.  In virtually every Swiss apartment building, and almost every home there, an emergency shelter exists in the basement, with food supplies.  There are also large shelters which are to be used in larger scale disasters. These larger underground shelters are required to hold a two year supply of food.  The food is rotated  and restocked by the military, by Swiss young adults who have chosen to work in national preparedness for their military service.
                The Swiss also send their peacekeeping forces all over the world to help to support the world's other fighting forces. They do also have professional soldiers who remain in the military for their working lifetimes.

Switzerland's countryside

                I don't know that in the US we need to draft everyone for three years worth of military and/or disaster preparedness service to the community, however it's nice to know that somewhere is taking the possibilities so seriously. Perhaps there are some things about disaster preparedness education we could apply to American life.
              This week I visited with one of our Swiss friends.  She had been in Switzerland visiting family, and I have been consumed with my own family and activities, so our catching up took a long time.  We finally got to the economy and politics.  I asked her if she thought that she too might return to Switzerland if dangerous or difficult times come to the US.  She thought for a moment and said, "No.  I am a citizen now, and this is where I live, and probably will die.  No matter what happens here, no matter how many freedoms we lose, this is my home now."   I admire her courage.  She and her husband could easily transfer back to a job with the company her husband worked for, which sent them here.  I am glad to have them here as calm and organized voices in preparedness, and as friends.

** In point of fact the references I used indicate that men are conscripted and that military service for women is in fact, voluntary. However, all of our female Swiss friends served in the military during their youth.

A prior post on Swiss preparedness:


Sunnybrook Farm said...

Very interesting, they have to be good not to have been over run by some major power over the last couple hundred years. Not a group of people to mess with.

JaneofVirginia said...

Geographically it's difficult to mess with Switzerland. In addition to that, they have guns and military supplies in outbuildings through the villages and the countryside. Interestingly, there are no school shootings because anyone who attempted would be shot to death by any adult, most of whom have qualified as sharpshooters. During the war I am told that in case they were invaded, the Swiss had secretly rigged all of their bridges to blow up. They could blow up any bridge at any time thus limiting any potential invasion to a small area where they could vanquish it. They are frugal too. A few years ago when they changed the military uniforms for the first time in many years, they sold all the others to British clothiers. The redesigned Swiss military-wear is now a hot fashion item. There are some lessons here for us.

Gorges Smythe said...

Three years ion the military would probably do the youth of this nation a LOT of good!

JaneofVirginia said...

Three years in the SWISS military probably would. Not quite sure about ours at the moment, being under Mr. Obama, and all.

lotta joy said...

Jane, are you homesick for Switzerland? After reading this, I know I am! No. I'm not a Swede, but they have the corner on common sense. Three years in their military, and a sense of pride in their country would work wonders in this country. But there'd be too much blood and carnage, trying to get all the American young and the illegals to go along with the plan.

JaneofVirginia said...

I have never personally been to Switzerland. What I know, I know from many friends who've come from there, and from relatives. Switzerland is a small place and I don't know that we need to do what they are doing to have adequate preparedness for our country. However, I like the way they are taking security seriously and training everyone without intercepting all the phone calls and internet messages.

kymber said...

Jane - i knew about the compulsory 3yr service for the males and i have always thought it was a good idea. my bunkmate in basic training had been born in switzerland but her family had moved to canada when she was about 2. she had a much older brother named anders who stayed in switzerland with other family as he was serving his 3yrs. according to her, he loved serving and so did all of his friends.

some of the additional info you provided in the post and here in the comments about their level of preparedness - wow! how freakin smart! i wish we followed those kinds of practices in canada and the US!

your friend,

JaneofVirginia said...

Kymber, Yes, I wish we took preparedness a bit more seriously as a nation. Perhaps we wouldn't have some of the extreme bunker builders who don't really have the training, but are spending large amounts of money.
I think the basic training and then service in Switzerland must be very good. Our Swiss friends who were living in Virginia when our two youngest children were born felt that they developed as human beings while both in service to Switzerland. It always amused me that my friend, who was such a lovely and genteel lady, and who became a teacher here in the US, had tons of awards for sharpshooting in the military.I almost could not imagine it. Both she and her husband were very well educated and intelligent and they gave credit to their Swiss military training.