Resilience. 25 February 2021

Resilience. 25 February 2021

Resilience is the new buzzword now, so what does resilience mean:

The Oxford Dictionary description states that resilience means:

“The ability to be happysuccessful, etc. again after something difficult or bad has happened

Agencies who have responsibilities to keep public safe from adverse events would like to make communities resilient in times of adverse events.

To make communities resilient we need to define what is an adverse event; is it only a natural event?

We need to identify how we make communities resilient and have resilience for when an adverse event happens?

Communities need to have plans that make their communities become resilient, and to be able to look after themselves for a period after an event. There is no one community model that fits all communities. Each community has its own unique environment and the people’s expectations from each community whilst they may be similar; they will be different based on each unique environment.

For communities to be resilient the first thing needed is to identify who has the trust of the community, who also has an understanding what potential adverse event could happen and what needs to happen for the community to come back some form of normality after an adverse event. This is the basis for a Community Resilience Plan (Plan B).

Not all people live in close communities; some for example live in the rural areas (e.g. farmers) and they have plans for the day to day normal events (Plan A) but on farms events happen that aren’t expected so they have to be adaptable because of these unexpected events.  These people should have a Plan B which can be activated when adverse events happen.

Farmers and other rural dwellers by the nature of their existence are normally quite resourceful people who can turn their hands to most situations. These people may not have a Plan B written down but because of their lifestyle they have the ability to be adaptable when situations change through adverse events.

The first things that these people do is make sure they and their families are safe and then check that their neighbours are safe and all of their animals are looked after. They have done a stock take of the situation through these checks they would normally be able to survive for a period of time before other help will arrive.

They have a built in survival ability due to the nature of their existence (i.e. living remote from urban areas) which means that they normally have enough supplies on hand to last them for a number of days and also due to the fact that they have an ability to procure food more easily.

Individual rural dwelling people would normally not have a written Plan B but due to their lifestyle/existence they tend to be very flexible and have an ability to change their focus at short notice dependent on any given circumstance or adverse event.

In relation to community resilience we shouldn’t be worrying about blaming any perceived global policies on the adverse events that happen, we should concentrate on addressing adverse events as they happen and supporting the community.

To address global policies that are perceived as responsible for adverse events happening is the responsibilities of Government Ministries and the Politicians.  

Over time have seen many adverse events happen. As a result what we have seen is that people who have been through these events realise that we should have a Plan B to help us deal with the outcomes from adverse events whether it is in writing or not.

The important thing is that to be resilient in a case of an adverse event we need to have identified what actions we need to take prior to the event occurring.

We are currently building a society that relies on technology to address adverse events and while that gives some ability to predict what may happen and to allow for very detailed response planning, we need to realise that the first thing that may be unavailable to us is that exact item- “technology”.

Significant adverse events that affect large areas of the population (natural or manmade disasters) often result in a loss of power supply and a breakdown in modern communication technology and as such these events require us to have a fall back plan based on this eventuality. I.E. how we respond without having the latest technology available to us in any given situation (back to basics manual response).

Smaller adverse events that affect lesser numbers of people but may still have devastating results for those involved require resilient response planning to enable us to manage these situations as they occur.

This is often the case with rural people where even in a significant event the response will have to be enacted individually due to the remoteness of each dwelling.

Building resilience in the rural situation often will encompass both planning for pastoral care (individual physical and mental wellness) of rural people as well as planning for disaster response (physical recovery & safety after the events occurrence).

Building resilience in terms of pastoral care often falls to outside agencies such as Rural Support Trust, St Johns Ambulance and Volunteer Fire Brigades which are normally staffed by persons with a background in the rural lifestyle as well as training in support for persons with personal difficulties. Often these agencies will also be involved in planning for adverse events/disasters.

Building Resilience in terms of disaster response normally starts with organisations such as; Local Council, FENZ, St Johns Ambulance and LANDSAR. The most important part of building resilience in rural areas is having a credible action plan that ensures the safety of firstly all local people and secondly the safety of their assets wherever possible.

Although the definition of resilience-

“The ability to be happysuccessful, etc. again after something difficult or bad has happened

-talks about being happy, successful, etc. after something bad has happened, we need to keep in mind that for this to happen we normally need to have planned for this to occur “BEFORE” the adverse event occurs.

Peter Buckley

Board Member P.L.U.G.