Either You've Faced Crisis, or You Will...
The Oxford dictionary defines "crisis" as a time of intense difficulty, trouble, or danger -- or, alternatively -- a time when a difficult or important decision must be made (which may also create opportunity). Generally speaking, everyone has either faced crisis, or will. The degree or scale of a crisis situation may vary widely -- it may range from being very personal and private to affecting many people -- perhaps even an entire geographic area.
Avoiding Crisis or Reducing its Severity -- The Importance of Preparation
In general, it is better to anticipate and avoid a crisis than to endure it, and better to mitigate the effects of crisis than to deal with unmitigated consequences. Of course, both are easier said than done -- some sort of effort is required. In most cases, effective crisis anticipation, avoidance, and mitigation will all require appropriate preparation and response. Nonetheless, we all eventually face crisis, and usually more than once. Our ability to prepare in advance greatly affects our ability to respond appropriately. Even simple, inexpensive steps, thoughtfully taken in advance, can make a huge difference in likely outcomes. Mental preparation is paramount to avoid paralyzing fear and panic.
Risk-Based Preparation 101: Reduce Vulnerabilities of People and Infrastructure to Threats
When crisis occurs or is imminent, someone or something is at risk of being damaged, destroyed, or taken from us. Crisis anticipation, avoidance, and mitigation are really all about protecting or minimizing risk to someone or something we care about. In risk terminology, that someone or something is an asset. Thus, assets are whomever and whatever we want to protect, and these may be very general or quite specific. We cannot protect everyone and everything all the time, so it is important to zero in on the assets that require extra focus and attention.
While it may seem like protecting assets is a matter of arbitrarily or selfishly picking and choosing whomever or whatever is most important to us ("key" assets) , that's really not how it works (fortunately!). Identifying and/or prioritizing assets is important to some degree (e.g., people are more important than things), but there's a lot more to it.
The potential risk to an asset is conceptually a product of the threat (actual, conceptual, or inherent) to that asset and the vulnerability of that asset to that threat. If there's a threat, but little or no vulnerability, then risk is low. If there's a vulnerability, but little or no threat, then risk may likewise be low. As the potential threat_/vulnerability_________ goes up
For any asset, there may be someone or something that is putting that asset at risk in some way that may cause loss or damage. That combination of someone or something -- acting in that particular way -- is called a threat. Again, the threat is a combination of an actor (i.e., someone or something) and an action (acting in a particular way). For example, murder and robbery are two different threats, even though either or both may potentially be carried out against the same asset (i.e., a person) by the same actor via different actions (i.e., murder or robbery). Thus, the concept of preventing or "stopping the threat" is a matter of preventing or eliminating the unwanted combination of actor and action. At its simplest, one way to reduce risk is to avoid actors that are likely to participate in actions that combine to create threats.
(from whomever or whatever may threaten them).
Preparation is required both for people (e.g., knowledge, situational awareness, training, skills, etc.) and infrastructure (e.g., technology such as communications, power, shelter, water, food, transport, etc.).
On the technology side, there should be minimal bias toward "high-tech" vs. "low-tech" -- the general focus should be on on having what you need when you need it, having it work reliably, and knowing how to use it. It may be analogous to a parachute -- "If you need it and don't have it, it may be the last time you need it. " Rather than go it alone, it may be much easier for any group of people to cooperate, such that collectively, they are better prepared than they would be otherwise.
However a crisis is dealt with, it is almost always better to have help. Our vision of "Helping people help each other" starts with enabling and encouraging mutual aid. The concept of mutual aid begins with cooperation within and among families, and extends to cooperation within and among neighborhoods and communities. Communities may be physical (e.g., within a geographical area) or logical (e.g., people who work or play together, or frequent or belong to the same church, school, recreational facility, etc.).