Insurance executive argues for culture of disaster preparedness

Paul Martin
Paul Martin

A native of Bedford County who is a lawyer and insurance lobbyist has written a book on disaster preparedness.

Paul T. Martin, who grew up in the rural Deason area of Bedford County, has written “Pivot Points: Creating a Culture of Preparedness and Resiliency in America.”

The author shares two personal experiences in his book to advocate for personal and national preparedness. First, as a 16-year-old, he describes a fire at a neighbor’s house in 1986. He and his father helped carry furniture out of the burning house. Second, he talks about starting law school in Miami when Hurricane Andrew hit and how he was not prepared for that disaster.

Martin points out the difference in people who may go overboard in preparing and those who take prudent precautions, whom he calls “preppers.” He argues that America has failed as a nation to create a practical preparedness culture.

“The preparedness movement in America has failed,” he writes. “But it’s not because people aren’t interested in preparing. It’s because we have failed to create a culture of preparedness in America, in which citizens appreciate the benefits of preparedness even when the bad things don’t happen on the assumed time table.”

Martin told me that things have not changed despite Hurricane Andrew. Take Super Storm Sandy that hit the Northeast several years ago. People knew that storm was coming and were not prepared, he said. Set aside basic supplies and have a weather radio you know how to use.

“We don’t have to have the property damage and lives lost,” he said.

Preparedness can be as simple as neighborhood associations training residents in first aid, he said.

Martin is a trustee of The Webb School, a private prep school in Bell Buckle, Tennessee (part of Bedford County). He was in Bedford County recently for a trustees meeting and worked with Bedford County EMA director Scott Johnson to create an emergency plan for the school.

Encourage others to be prepared so it’s not just a few who are ready when disaster hits, he said. Create communities of preparedness. Churches are great places for preparedness, he said.

“Churches are sometimes the first responders to a disaster,” Martin said. He has a chapter on the role of faith in preparedness and talks about the characteristics of Noah, who built the ark, and Joseph, who led Egypt through a great famine thanks to God’s warning, as well as other people from the Bible. Martin also discusses Jesus and things He said on preparedness, such as the parable of the bridesmaids.

Martin, a lawyer, now lives in Austin, Texas, and is the director-state affairs, Southwestern Region, for the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies (NAMIC). The organization is a trade association for the mutual property/casualty insurance industry. In his job, he talks to state legislatures from Salt Lake to Baton Rouge about mitigation efforts and the importance of building homes to code, which will result in fewer insurance claims.

“Before spending money on food, water, guns and a weather radio, talk to your insurance agent to make sure you have the right coverage,” he said. He added make sure you have the right life insurance.

The book is available on Amazon.

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