Last week, we exposed National Neighborhood Watch Institute for promoting a policy of inaction that’s both unsafe and immoral. If you missed it, you can read our take-down here.
But our goal at Peacekeeper has never just been to fight the old. We prefer to focus on building the new. A superior system of emergency response.
And though the NNWI should be ashamed of themselves, the community members involved in neighborhood watches around the US are most often amazing people doing great things. It’s important for community members to band together to protect each other. Done right, this can make everyone safer while strengthening the bonds of community.
That’s why Peacekeeper revolves around Emergency Response Groups (ERG). After you download the app, talk to friends and neighbors about including them in your ERG. When one of you needs help, whether it’s a medical emergency or an intruder in their house, they can just tap the relevant ‘alert’ button and the whole ERG is notified.
In many ways, this is the embodiment of the neighborhood watch ideal. It creates a bond with those who live near you, cemented by your mutual willingness to take care of each other in an emergency. It empowers you to stand up for yourself and those you care about.
So, here are 6 tips to build an effective ERG.
Note: Peacekeepers don’t just watch and report emergencies. We focus on protecting others and helping out in an emergency. We also advocate coordinated defensive action to save lives. Being part of an ERG matters, and we encourage our users to take it—and their responsibility—seriously.
1) Introduce the app to those closest to you
Make sure to talk to family and close friends. Let them know it’s a faster, more responsive emergency response service. Explain why you’re on it and why you would feel better if they were too—even if they also use 911.
2) Bring in neighbors
Mention the app to neighbors that you already trust and have a connection with: see if they’d be interested in a network of community responders.
It’s helpful here to focus on the practicality of having someone very close by to help out in a medical emergency, a fire, or even a burglary. In an emergency, seconds count; and police, EMTs, and firefighters often can’t get there fast enough.
3) Invite people to a meeting
Invite all the neighbors who sound interested over for a group meeting. Walk them through Peacekeeper and reiterate why the app is so crucial. The ERG can arrive in time to save lives, when police and firefighters are still minutes away. It’s also safer and more comfortable to rely on friends in an emergency rather than strangers. Peacekeepers know each other, train together, and trust each other.
Be sure everyone is on board with the idea of Peacekeeper. If someone doesn’t like the app or doesn’t want to be part of an ERG, that’s okay; they don’t have to be. This isn’t about signing up everyone. It’s about signing up the right people.
4) Establish your ERG
Have everyone join your ERG via the app. Then, go over each member’s skills and expertise in an emergency. Is your neighbor a tactical gun expert? His involvement could be crucial in stopping a burglar. Is your friend across the street an EMT? She’ll be a perfect contact in a medical emergency.
5) Do a test-run
Finally, test out the app and role play some common emergencies. Make sure everyone’s on the same page and knows what to do in a crisis.
This is crucial. You’re building your own community-based emergency response network, and it’s only as fast and as effective as its members’ training. A well-trained ERG can respond to crises in minutes or even seconds and save lives. But having an ERG where people aren’t on the same page and don’t know what’s going is almost worse than not having one. Make sure your group knows what to do in a crisis.
6) Stay involved
Now’s the time to learn key skills and make sure you’re ready.
Pick a date for everyone to take a basic medical class together. Set it up and put it on the calendar. If you’re worried about intruders, you could also set up a self-defense or weapons training for everyone to take together.
Find other trainings you all can do together, and put them on the calendar. Every three months, meet to run through a few emergency response scenarios. Stay sharp and ready.
Having an ERG—and being a Peacekeeper—isn’t for everyone. It’s a commitment, because your friends and neighbors are relying on you and vice versa. It takes time, energy, and finding the right group. But done right, it can save lives.