An Ounce of Prevention with Fringe Benefits

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, right? We know this. But it’s a tough sell. We all know how hard it is to make time for prevention when there are so many other more urgent (or more interesting) things to do.

Nowhere is this a bigger problem than in the world of disaster preparedness and relief. Despite overwhelming evidence that preparedness saves more lives than anything that can be done after a disaster, it’s tough to get the support and funding needed to do it well.

How do we change this? As I prepare for my next webcast on this very topic, I think part of the key is to see this work in a new light. According to one of my expert guests, preparedness has traditionally been seen as an expense.

What it really is is insurance. It’s hard to get people (and by extension, governments) to value something that, if the worst never happens, is basically invisible. But the insurance industry has managed it and is doing very well from the risks involved with health crises, accidental death, car crashes, and other horrible things that may or may not happen.

So why not this area, too?

Beyond that, one of the most effective tools in disaster preparedness is the exercise (basically, a mock disaster). It can be as simple as a group of people sitting around a table verbally playing the roles they would play if emergency did strike. Or it can be as elaborate as a full-scale mockup with actors playing casualties and placing calls to responders as distraught spouses and outraged journalists.

Exercises are actually a lot of fun. What better opportunity to get people from industry, government, and community organizations engaging with each other? What better chance for an organization to display its commitment to community safety and the environment? Anyone looking for ways to engage their employees with the broader community need look no further.

If you look at it this way, disaster preparedness work is more than insurance. It’s a community engagement opportunity. Even if the worst never does happen, preparedness efforts aren’t wasted. Two for the price of one! A bargain.

If you’d like to hear a more educated perspective on this rich field, please do sign up to join us on the free webcast next week. Here’s the link.

By Nadine Riopel -