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Life in Tacloban came to a horrifying and despairing halt for hundreds of thousands of people.In recent years we are suffering massive disasters in populated regions across the world. The next disaster may be bearing down on your community only weeks from now. Life may come to a halt. Regional loss of power, roads destroyed and mangled, buildings and trees leveled … dirt, rocks, mud and tossed vehicles may bring transportation to a complete stop.
In devastation like this, suddenly a bulldozer and other large earth movers like cranes, excavators, and back hoes may be the only way to begin the process of rebuilding, or at the least clearing roads, so that people can walk on foot through neighborhoods and between communities.
If you’re lucky, you might even find a bicycle amid the wreckage.
Wanted: Earth Movers
When disaster of this magnitude strikes, new opportunity arises: Earth and debris movers are needed.In the modern age, that often means bulldozers.
Bulldozers are heavy machines, known for their forward sitting blade that is used to push (or crush, or collapse) things in it’s path. The blade is lifted and forced down by hydraulic arms.For digging, the blade is pushed below surface level, and the bulldozer simply moved forward. For pushing the blade is kept at surface level, or just above it. For spreading (dirt, snow, sand, mud), the blade is held above surface level, as the bulldozer moves forward.
From a few thousand dollars for a used bulldozer, to a few hundred thousand dollars for a state of the art bulldozer, bulldozers are built to move dirt and gravel, but can also be used to knock down homes, move wrecked vehicles and boulders, and for a number of other tasks related to farming (leveling land and trees for planting), and construction — for clearing commercial plots of land for secondary equipment like backhoes, used for excavating dirt so that foundations can go in.
For the modern day prepper, Bulldozers and other heavy equipment like backhoes can work together to build doomsday bunkers, and even underground living quarters. Bulldozers by themselves can also be used for excavation purposes — but that doesn’t mean that they’re the best machine for digging if you also have a backhoe handy.
How To Drive A Bulldozer
This is where it gets tricky. Attempting to jump in a bulldozer and make it work for you without getting yourself stuck or up on a slope where you tip comes with training and experience in bulldozer operation. A couple points for you to remember off hand:Keep bulldozers off slopes — these things can tip.
Keep people away from the front, rear, and sides while operating, unless you’ve coordinated a work plan before hand with ground workers. Deaths and serious injuries happen when bystanders assume bulldozer operators can see them. A week can go by without any issues, and then one careless person is suddenly crushed because they assumed the driver made eye contact with them, when the driver did not. Bystanders and operators need to signal each other, to show that they’re each aware of each other. Better than that, it’s the job of bystanders / ground workers to avoid the bulldozer.
Approach trenches and excavations with caution. Bulldozers are extremely heavy, some weighing several tons. Wet or loose ground can suddenly give way underneath, dropping a bulldozer into a trench.
Wear the safety belt, always. In a disaster zone, a bulldozer has more chances of encountering uneven terrain, increasing the danger of tipping. As the warning labels should state, never jump from a bulldozer, in the event it should tip over. Most have roll cages for a reason — to protect the driver if the bulldozer should tip.
This should go without saying, but take extra precautions never to tip a bulldozer in a disaster zone. There may be no secondary heavy pieces of equipment around to get it on it’s base again, and back in operation. If you tip it once, it might be done for.
If you’re working in an area of heavy dirt or dust, be sure to clean the air filter from time to time. Too much build up on the air filter can prevent starting. You’ll find the air filter in the engine compartment.
Bulldozers: Tank Treads Vs. Wheels
Some bulldozers have tank treads, and sit lower to the ground. Others sit on four large wheels, and should be operated on level terrain, as much as possible, due to the increased risk of tipping.
Watch out for overhead power lines.Watch out for live electrical lines within any debris or collapsed roadways or buildings you may be working around.
Be careful when driving over re-bar; re-bar can get caught in the treads (if your ‘dozer has tank treads rather than wheels). If you’re using a bulldozer that sits on wheels, avoid driving over visible re-bar all together. Or take the time to manually bend down visible pieces of re-bar beforehand, using a sledge hammer, if available.
Don’t Attempt To Operate A Bulldozer After …
Don’t attempt to operate a bulldozer only after reading about bulldozers. If you’ve operated a backhoe, skidder, or tractor or have other previous experience with heavy equipment, you can attempt to operate a bulldozer, but be sure you’ve got the ins and outs down before you start putting it to work.Most people who come by this site aren’t in the position to buy a bulldozer or other heavy equipment, but for those of you who are, including cities and town councils concerned about recovery in the immediate hours and days following a widespread disaster, make sure you and your colleagues have the training and experience of bulldozer operation.
Don’t just depend on ol’ Tom and his sons who live outside town with their gravel quarry business. A disaster can shut him down for good, take their lives, and then who do you have as back-up for operating your community’s heavy equipment?
Those roads need to be cleared. Infrastructure needs to be restored. None of that can happen if there’s a shortage of people who know how to operate heavy equipment (and other skilled needs in the community — like hydro-electric power).
Bring bulldozer training to your community and invest in more than one bulldozer.
Store bulldozers conveniently on higher ground, in case of flooding or tidal surge, and in different areas of the community, according to an immediate plan for disaster response. Each bulldozer and it’s operator who lives in that “sector” or “zone” can go to work, to clear roads as soon as possible, making it possible for paramedics, fire departments, and other emergency services to access neighborhoods and areas cut off by devastation and collapsed infrastructure.
Helping your community survive; helping more people live and receive emergency first aid from first responders.