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Tag: DRM Theory

Mix’n’match Emergency Management

Mix’n’match Emergency Management

Reading Time: 2 minutes

In 2007 I did some work on Hospital Evacuation, which is a throughly complex problem. I won’t go into the detail here, suffice to say that it brings some real ethical issues and logistical challenges. I mention this, because way back in 2007 someone that I spoke to described their Hospital Evacuation Plan as “planned improvisation”.

mixnmatchI remember recoiling at this. Here I was trying to document every last detail of how wards should work together with central hospital functions to expedite a swift evacuation, yet over here was someone essentially saying “we make it up on the day”.

Today I was having an unrelated conversation with a colleague about Command and Control (for non experts, that’s the systems and structures by which an emergency is managed). We were talking about the need to planned arrangements to have sufficient felxibility as to be applicable to a variety of circumstances. Without the ability to accurately predict the future this felxibility is vitally important.

However, you also need to balance that flexibility, with having coherence and structure, to try to bring the emergency under control as quickly as possible. I was reminded of one of those mix’n’match childrens books.

I wonder if there might be something in this approach for emergency management? Could you have a variety of planned components which all fit togther ininfinite complementary combinations?

I’m a big fan of recognising the emergent behaviour of systems and communities when under stress, but do I bring that do the formal responder organisatiopns I work with? Probably not as much as I could. There is definately a degree of creativity involved in sucessful emergency response – how can we create an environment which nurtures this without abandoning the important act of planning?

I’m going to give this some more thought over the weekend and come back with some more well rounded thoughts and suggestions – until then, I’m off to read an article about Collaborative Adhocracies….fun!

Image source: Edward Gorey via

3D Resilience

3D Resilience

Reading Time: 2 minutes

I recently discovered news aggregator Feedly. Having been released in 2008, I’m a little behind the curve!

For some time I’ve seen the inherent value of RSS feeds, but haven’t been able to figure out a way of making them work for me. However, Feedly (I’m not on commission, I’m sure other products are available!) seems to do just what I’ve been looking for. I have begun using Feedly to collate resilience blogs that I regularly check in on, and it’s really handy to have summaries available on the go without having to navigate to particular blogs.

Today Chris Bene’s article Making the Most of Resilience popped up in my feed, so I thought I’d check it out, and I’m glad I did.

Whilst primarily approaching resilience from a development angle, a diagram explaining resilience is applicable in an emergency management context.

3d resilience

Bene states that three types of capacity are important in living with change and uncertainty

  • absorptive capacity – the ability to cope with the effects of shocks and stresses
  • adaptive capacity – the ability of individuals or societies to adjust and adapt to shocks and stresses, but keep the overall system functioning in broadly the same way
  • transformative capacity – the ability to change the system fundamentally when the way it works is no longer viable

Im my experience, much of the work on resilience in a UK context is around developing the former, and it links back to an earlier post about developing a wider range of options for countering terrorism.

How can resilience professionals help to develop ‘softer’ approaches to preparing to emergencies which aren’t just about hardening, strengthening and fallback systems. How can we better embrace opotunities to transform both communities and places? I imagine that developing resilience is more likley to be sucessful where interventions reflect the three dimensions on the continuum.