What does preparedness and resilience look like?

Preparedness is the ability to make plans that help withstand emergency situations in both the short and long-term. Resilience is the ability to utilise available resources (energy, communication, transportation, food, etc.) to respond to, withstand, and recover from all adverse incidents (e.g. flood, drought, fire, terrorism).

The act of being prepared or resilient is not about reacting to a one-off response or recovery from an incident or disaster, but more about the ongoing holistic process of utilising and nurturing existing relationships and resources. By combining community-led and institution-led approaches we can improve and strengthen the capacity to respond, withstand and recover from emergency situations.

Resilience to emergencies and disasters is about being aware of the potential risks, and planning and preparing to minimise the impact and disruption.

Emergency planning: Building resilient communities

Emergency planning is a continuous process. Preparing communities, organisations and infrastructure, emergency planning makes them more resilient for the response and recovery measures required in the event of adverse situations, such as flooding or drought.

A resilient community will not only be better prepared to respond at the time of an emergency but will be better equipped to recover in the long-term.

Many communities already help one another in times of need, but history has demonstrated that those communities that spent time planning and preparing for emergency incidents were better able to cope and recover more quickly following
a disaster.

Communities prepared for emergencies show some or all of the following resilient features:

  • Awareness of risks that may affect them (both nationally and locally) and how vulnerable they are to such risks. This helps motivate them to personally take action to prepare for the consequences of emergencies.
  • Work in partnership to complement the work of the local emergency responders and other organisations before, during and after an emergency.
  • Use existing skills, knowledge and resources to prepare for, and deal with, the consequences of emergencies.

The government website provides guidance to help individuals, businesses and communities identify and prepare for the hazards and threats that may disrupt their lives.

For communities at risk from flooding, preparation is key.

Community resilience can be built through:

  • Providing flood awareness, education and community engagement
  • Signing up for flood warnings
  • Making personal and community emergency flood plans
  • Introducing institutional structures such as flood groups and flood wardens
  • Developing property flood resilience measures.

The government website provides guidance to help individuals, businesses and communities identify and prepare for floods. Their 8-page leaflet covers:

  • Signing up for flood warnings
  • Making a personal flood plan
  • What to do if a flood happens
  • Recovering from a flood.

The importance of an emergency plan

JBA Flood Preparedness Cycle
Flood Preparedness Cycle

When a disaster occurs that exposes communities, organisations or the environment to a hazard that is beyond their day to day experiences and methods of coping, an emergency plan should be in place to mitigate the impact and help return to a state of normality.

The ultimate objectives of emergency plans are to:

  • Prevent loss of life and injuries
  • Reduce damage to property
  • Protect the environment and communities
  • Return life to ‘normal’ as quickly as possible.

Emergency plans must continue to evolve just as the risks, communities/organisations circumstances and vulnerabilities continue to change. They should aim to anticipate hazards, whilst identifying lessons learned and opportunities for improvement following an exercise or an emergency.

  • PLAN – Plans are created following a risk assessment
  • TRAIN – Staff and personnel train using the plan for their roles and responsibilities in the event of an emergency
  • EXERCISE – Plans are tested in exercises or in real-world emergencies
  • EVALUATE – Plans are evaluated to see where they can be improved, with changes made where appropriate.

Emergency plans need to be communicated to ensure that during an incident everyone is aware of their role and responsibility. Exercising the emergency plan is also critical, to test whether emergency procedures within the plans
are effective.

Responding to emergencies

Drought at Saddleworth Moor Reservoir 2018
Drought at Saddleworth Moor Reservoir 2018

This summer, following the driest June since 1925, Category 1 and Category 2 emergency responders stepped up incident response to tackle the impacts of extremely dry weather
and drought.

Record-breaking temperatures and very low rainfall throughout May, June and July resulted in significant environmental incidents and response to moorland fires, algal blooms, dry boreholes, low river flows and fish rescues.

The National Drought Group (NDG), made up of 30 organisations including water companies, regulators and environmental groups, met to discuss the operational approach to managing water supplies. Response plans were reviewed and implemented to manage the impact of the on-going dry weather, including water company drought plans,
strategies for putting in place hose-pipe bans, and
ongoing actions to reduce water leakage.

Emergency Planning Society – #buildbackbetter

This week Phil Emonson and Shelley Evans from our Emergency Planning Team will be attending the Emergency Planning Society’s Study event. The Society’s AGM and evening event on Monday 10 September will be followed by a full study day on Tuesday 11 September.

The study day will reflect on responses and lessons from emergencies in 2017, and consider standards in incident recovery.

Keynote speeches will be from Lord Kerslake, on the report from the Manchester Arena attack, and from Alison McGovern MP, who will present on the recovery from an incident within her constituency and on Hillsborough Law.

This event presents an exciting opportunity for resilience and emergency planning professionals and practitioners to share experiences through the reception, networking opportunity and study workshop.

Want to know more?

We provide a range of emergency planning and resilience services, from the development of training and exercising for Category 1 and 2 responders, the drafting of emergency and response plans, and supporting the preparedness of homeowners and communities with our Property Flood Resilience services.

Email Shelley Evan, our Senior Flood Resilience and Emergency Planning Analyst, for more information. You can also find out more on our Emergency Planning web pages.

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