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Building a zero resilience community; It's time to wake up!



It's ‘the lucky country’, where we all pitch in to help a mate and life is good. In fact, life is so good it's totally safe; abundant with food, water, shelter, lovely people, amazing services, and what could possibly go wrong!

Well sadly a lot has gone wrong. Threats that we never imagined have now landed on our doorstep and they aren’t about to leave. In fact, they’re well ingrained in our community.

Having spent over 20 years in emergency services I’ve witnessed a shift in natural and human emergencies. During my time with Victoria Police the traditional events that we all expected occurred on a regular basis, family violence toping the list, but closely followed by thefts, car accidents, searches and protests. All required a high level of police engagement and in most cases these were brought to a safe resolution. The gangland shootings created a lot of media and public attention, however the public were mainly onlookers at crime gangs fighting over territory, bad debits and partnerships turned sour.

Natural disaster topped the list during my time at VICSES. Floods, storms and fires were constant items on the menu. But they were of magnitudes never experienced before. I believe this was the first awakening of our communities to the reality that simply calling for help wasn’t going to save you anymore. That for once in your life you actually had to look after yourself.

Black Saturday demonstrated how we cannot be guaranteed assistance during major incidents. Now five years on, complacency has moved back in and emergency service experts are voicing their concern.

However, there is an even more frightening and real threat on our doorstep. The threat of terrorism. Something all Australians believed did not exist in this country. And after the arrests relating to alleged planning of terrorist acts on Anzac Day, and again on Mothers Day, in Melbourne we sadly see that it does, and it’s far more imbedded into our community than we’d like to admit.

The recent spate of arrests is on one-hand comforting. Our federal and state police are doing an amazing job to apprehend before anything happens. But how long will it be until one slips through the net?

The Lindt Café shooting was a horrible wake up call that life isn’t so cozy in the land down under. It has almost become almost a weekly front-page story about a terrorist plot foiled, or terrorism related incidents exposed in our backyard.

So how resilient are we? If you were stranded at work with no water, no food, and only your office clothes, how long would you survive? Imagine being locked down in your office for 30hrs, or getting home during a flooding event. Ever thought about how long you’d survive at home without water, electricity, or gas? Some may recall the Longford gas explosion. The community rallied together offering hot showers, warmth and cooked meals to those who couldn’t mange. An interesting exercise is working out how long you would survive with all services cut off, and there are plenty of resources available online to help you get prepared.

What if we lost power for a few weeks, water became contaminated, no gas or our transport network was disabled? Could you get to work by alternative means?

Some would argue a large percentage of the community would be incapacitated if they lost connection to their social media networks!

These reflections aren’t intended to make everyone panic and start building a hidden bunker, but it is hoped people will reflect and have an understanding of realistically how long they would last, and what options they have at home or work in unexpected times of emergency/crisis?

It’s not planning for Armageddon, just a loss of services for a week or two, or a couple of days locked down in your office.

Lets all hope that the water is never opened, the packets of biscuits and dried fruit pass their expiry date and we all go home at the end of the day.

I built a business around crisis preparation and response, and from this experience I feel we are highly exposed to more natural and man-made disasters than we realise. It's concerning that we are developing zero resilience communities and companies. Test yourself against this check-list and see how prepared you really are to go it alone in ‘the lucky country’!

#crisiscommunications #resilience #naturalemergency #preparedness