Resilience is the new national buzzword and concept, and rightly so. It is impossible to completely prevent disasters so we must accept that fact and take proactive measures to ensure we can bounce back effectively when disasters strike. Resiliency is a mindset steeped in the principles of risk management and the appreciation that bad things will happen but we can and should be prepared for those bad things.
However, the resiliency dialogue is generally focused on infrastructure improvements, community planning and/or an individual’s psychological capacity to deal with traumatic events. The more traditional emergency management and first responder preparedness efforts are often overlooked and not included as part of the resiliency conversation. Yet, preparedness has a direct impact on the ability of a community to respond effectively and recover quickly from a disaster.
Investing in preparedness is investing in resilience. Effective planning, training and exercises before the event will greatly mitigate the impacts of the disaster and increase the likelihood of a successful response, thereby allowing the community to recover more quickly than it would if those preparedness activities had not taken place. For example, many of the capabilities and associated investments made by the City of Boston proved critical during the response and aftermath of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing. The first responders that day had previously planned, trained and exercised together which only enhanced the response.
Additionally, according to congressional testimony, the Massachusetts State Police used forward-looking infrared imaging technology purchased with federal grant funds to help locate and apprehend the surviving bombing suspect. The effective response and timely apprehension of the suspect allowed the City of Boston to return to normalcy more quickly.
Read the complete report in the Feb/March 2016 issue of Homeland Security Today.