A flood is a crisis. A large crisis. In fact, to quote Blackadder, if you’ve got a moment, it’s a twelve-story crisis with a magnificent entrance hall, carpetting throughout, 24-hour portrage and an enormous sign on the roof saying this is a large crisis. Ok so floods may not always be a twelve-story crisis, or have a roof to put a sign on for that matter, but they can have a pretty significant impact on individuals and communities.
Don’t worry, the Resilience team is here to help.
I’ve only recently begun working with a team of Resilience Officers and when I started, I had many questions. Although studying Hazard Management at university, I did not understand what a Resilience Officer was, what they did, or why they were even needed. Much like myself, I imagine a lot of people think that the emergency processes just sort of happen, and have never given much thought to what preparation must go on behind the scenes before the emergency unfolds.
The resilience team are those behind-the-scene guys, finding ways to help increase a communities resilience to emergencies.
This reminds me of my drama club. Have you ever been to the theatre and seen an amazing performance with fantastic staging, which seems to just disappear in the blink of an eye between scenes and wondered how this happens? Stage-hands wait in the wings between scenes, and run on during the blackout to move large blocks of scenery. To safely move the scenery and get it to the right place whilst moving silently in the dark takes a lot of practice. The stage-hands weave inbetween the actors as they rush off to prepare for the next scene, locate and move the props and clear the stage within a matter of seconds, all in the dark. If you’ve never seen this, imagine running a 400m relay race with hurdles whilst blindfolded. If a stage-hand misses their cue, or forgets part of the scenery, it impacts the whole of the next scene and the next scene change, and can slow down the whole show. We spend almost as much time practising the scene changes as we do rehearsing the scenes, months are dedicated to rehearsing, learning lines and blocking scenes and timings, all for just a couple of hours of entertainment one evening. Working in the resilience department is a bit like this because it takes months of planning, blocking out what could happen, and organising practice runs all in preparation for the actual event so that ‘on the night’, we know exactly what to do.
But in case you were thinking that we do all the resilience planning from behind a desk, I’m sorry to say that you are mistaken. We aren’t the sort to plan for emergencies from the isolation of an office without going out to the community even once. We plan based on our own first hand experience of the area, creating ways to increase resilience that also work with the land. Now I can’t say for the rest of the team, but I for one particularly enjoy getting out of the office, especially on a warm, sunny day – one of the perks of the job you might call it.
I remember one time when I was little; I heard a story about a donkey who fell in a well. He bleated pitifully until the farmer came, but he decided that because the donkey was old and the well needed filling in, he wouldn’t rescue the donkey. So he gathered some friends and they began to shovel dirt into the well onto of the donkey, after a time the donkey fell silent, the farmer looked down into the well and saw that the donkey was climbing up. Every time a shovel of dirt landed on his back, the donkey would shake it off and climb up, and pretty soon it had reached the top of the well and trotted off happily.
Unlike the farmer who had set out to let the donkey die, the resilience team are here to protect, but the moral of the story is the same. If the donkey had not decided to climb up on top of all the dirt being thrown at him, he wouldn’t have made it, but because he decided to help himself, he was saved. The resilience team do their best to protect everyone from emergencies but we aren’t miracle workers. We need you to help us help you.
This little donkey is a good representation of what we help communities to do during an emergency event, we provide the step up for individuals and communities to take. You are the actors and we are the stage-hands, making sure that you are looked after during a crisis.
By Jess Scarsbrook, CSW Resilience Summer Student Placement