What is Community Preparedness?
Fundamental to the concept of community preparedness, is that individuals, communities and businesses should be more self-reliant and be prepared to take responsibility for the risks they live with. At the heart of how communities cope is how ‘resilient’ they are. This means how well they can use their strengths to, ‘Prepare’ for ‘Respond’ to and ‘Recover’ from emergencies such as weather or climate related events. Preparedness is a process that requires continued focus year-round with the best ideas originating from our communities. The voluntary and response agencies must encourage local communities to engage in innovative activities that enhance resilience.
Communities can facilitate this effort by supporting community based preparedness and encouraging households to have a plan and recognise that simple activities can make a big difference, such as being able to turn off domestic services or how families would meet again if they had to leave home and were separated and how community services and businesses would recover and continue to deliver the services they provide.
Description of the Problem/Situation
We live in a time of increasing numbers of climate related and manmade events and helping local communities become more resilient to these disruptions is more important than ever. Government agencies at all levels will need to facilitate the development of capacity and capabilities of individuals and communities and be ready to assist when the impact of disasters are beyond the communities capacity. Facilitation from the Local Authorities, HSE and An Garda Siochána and the voluntary sector will be necessary to achieve this.
A fundamental challenge for the local government sector when aiming to achieve safer, sustainable communities is how to effectively engage with and prepare the community. This will involve community strengthening strategies that support and invest in the community processes, enabling citizens and businesses to identify and agree on community concerns, goals, priority actions and indicators of progress.
As a key element of the national economy, private-sector resilience and the implementation of business continuity planning processes are essential. The ability of businesses to recover hinges on a community’s mitigation efforts which includes critical infrastructure protection as modern, complex communities and economic wealth are built on it.
Voluntary and Government Agencies need to consider mechanisms to promote resilience within communities. Educating and informing the whole community on possible outcomes of climate change is an important element of that process by providing relevant and timely information. The most effective way to promote resilience at community level is to integrate the consideration of risk and ways to reduce or eliminate risk into all decisions such as community plans, strategic plans, incorporating hazard mitigation standards into building control and development planning, local and national and ensuring that public safety and community resilience are considered in all decisions. A robust communication strategy with the public in preparation and responding to climate related events will be required.
We must help communities prepare for, withstand, and emerge stronger from disruptions while also understanding that a government led approach to disaster management is insufficient to meet the challenges posed by a disruptive incident. To meet the community’s preparedness goals, the whole community must be actively involved in all phases of the preparedness, response, and recovery cycle.
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