Stakeholders in each discipline are tasked with protecting their industries’ assets and resources from potential risks and threats. However, each industry is interdependent on numerous other industries and their preparedness practices. The “whole community” concept encompasses the “all for one and one for all” motto. Together, communities can build strength and resilience. Apart, they may miss the warning signs and opportunities to mitigate disaster.
The most qualified staff and the highest quality equipment, for example, are hugely beneficial in a normal operating environment. However, a single point of failure could negate these benefits, such as: the best computer hardware and software without electricity, the best navigation equipment without a global positioning system (GPS), or the best communication systems without cellular tower signals. Electricity, GPS, and cell towers each represent a potential single point of failure and the need for a whole community approach.
Similarly, when responding to an incident such as a clandestine drug laboratory, people from different disciplines are needed to ensure a safe and effective response. Law enforcement officers secure the scene to keep out those who wish to do harm. Fire and hazardous materials personnel extinguish and/or neutralize various hazards. Emergency medical services focus on injuries and threats to life. Public health professionals address short- and long-term health effects. And so on. Each has a focus, but all must keep the big picture in mind.
Whether considering the evolution of the digital world, advances in technology, changing climate conditions, or the innumerable interdependencies that exist in modern society, emergency preparedness professionals have a lot to consider. It is not possible to plan and prepare for every potential threat, risk, and scenario. However, by always keeping the “big picture” in mind, emergency planners, responders, and resilience professionals will certainly be better positioned to address the single points of failure and to mitigate potentially devastating consequences.
The authors in this edition of the DomPrep Journal see the “big picture” in emergency preparedness, response, and resilience.