In life, inevitably, bad things will sometimes happen. While some instinctively run away from danger, emergency preparedness and response professionals willingly insert themselves into many emergencies and disasters that they could have avoided in another profession. The desire to save lives and respond to those in need sometimes even supersedes the responders’ own personal safety and well-being. However, disaster response is not the only opportunity to significantly impact a community.
Significant changes present new opportunities. For example, past hurricanes exposed communication gaps that needed to be closed to secure healthcare records during power outages. COVID-19 increased the pace of online learning, such as an active shooter training course, to successfully transition from in-person to online learning. The current war in Ukraine offers warnings to the U.S. and other countries to reassess homeland security all-hazards plans and take action now to protect communities from potential threats.
With many possible threats, hazards, and risks, communities must work together to prepare for the next major event. It will take a whole government approach to incident management, like the one outlined in Presidential Policy Directive-44, and a whole community approach. Two key stakeholders critical for building resilience are faith-based organizations and the next generation of preparedness and response professionals.
In addition to opportunities, significant changes introduce challenges. For example, recruiting and retaining workers during a pandemic has been difficult. Reducing burnout requires finding new strategies to address the unique workplace concerns that COVID-19 introduced. Although the nation is relaxing mask and vaccination requirements after almost three years of a pandemic, and the 2022 hurricane season is ending with fewer storms making landfall than in the past few years, there is no time for complacency. Building resilient communities means staying vigilant, recognizing the threats, and finding chances to make positive changes.