Preparation and Adaptation Examples
In Step 3, there were four examples that demonstrated how to identify the risks to your organisation from disasters and emergencies using 'what if' thinking. In this Step, the same examples are used to explore what prevention and adaptation strategies could be put in place to mitigate against the risks identified in Step 3.
The four examples were:
Impacts of bushfire on outreach home and community care (HACC) service provision
Impacts of flood on residential aged care service provision
Impacts of cyclone on emergency relief service provision
Impacts of extreme heat on a provider of Out of Home Care (OOHC) services to children and families
These examples explored questions like:
What was the hazard – the source of potential harm?
What happened - how did the hazard impact the organisation's capacity to do its work?
What harm happened? How could it have been prevented?
These same examples are now used again but exploring the question:
What prevention and adaption strategies could be put in place to mitigate against the risks that were identified in Step3?
Before reviewing the prevention and adaption examples you may find it helpful to review the original scenarios in Step 3.
Each of the examples below idenitifies the system elements that are exposed or vulnerable to failure as a result of a hazard to in turn enable the identification of appropriate strategies to reduce risks or even create new opportunities, that is, to adapt.
The following four ‘adaptation mode’ examples apply some of the adaptation strategies to develop a picture of the processes by which organisations can increase disaster resilience or adapt to extreme weather events.
There are diagrams used in each example to show relationships between various parts of the system under study. The lines in the diagrams are colour coded:
Example 1: Adapting an Outreach Home and Community Care Service to Bushfire Impacts
This example outlines the planning, adaptive and collaborative actions an outreach provider of home and community care services can take to manage, mitigate and transfer the risks to service provision from bushfire impacts and describes the benefits to clients, the broader social service system and the community from these actions.
Firstly, the organisation undertakes a climate change risk assessment, which includes an assessment of bushfire risks. This assessment clearly identifies the organisation’s vulnerability to power and telecommunication system failures. In response to this assessment, the organisation develops an emergency management plan, which includes a contingency action plan in the instance of power and communications failures. The organisation also develops an associated emergency client access and response plan, which requires the production of a register of vulnerable clients and prioritises access and response to those who are most at risk during emergencies.
The planning process identifies a number of adaptive strategies that will increase the resilience of the organisation to infrastructure failure caused by bushfires. It purchases a power generator to use during power outages, mobile phones for staff to use during emergencies and creates hard copy records of clients’ contact details, which are stored in a fire refuge as well as in offsite locations. The emergency management and communications failure contingency plans prioritise the charging of mobile phones using generated power during blackouts. These actions ensure that organisations are able to contact those clients that are most exposed and most vulnerable to bushfire impacts during emergencies.
Finally the organisation works with local and state emergency services to develop emergency management plans that include information sharing protocols. These protocols enable the organisation to assist emergency services to identify, locate and assist the most vulnerable members of the community during a bushfire. It also partners with other providers of aged-care services in the area to develop an emergency response network. This network develops collaborative emergency service delivery and communications plans to ensure that clients receive the care they need during and after emergencies and to ensure that the service network is not strained by the failure of single organisations within the network.
Example 2: Adapting a Residential Aged Care Service to Flood Impacts
This example outlines the planning, adaptive and collaborative actions a provider of residential aged care services can take to manage, mitigate and transfer the risks to service provision from flood impacts and describes the benefits to clients, the broader social service system and the community from these actions.
The organisation undertakes a risks assessment, which includes an assessment of its exposure and vulnerability to disaster and emergency risks. This assessment reveals that the organisation is highly vulnerable to flood impacts to infrastructure, particularly to power failure and to isolation caused by the flooding and closure of key access routes. Based on this assessment, it develops a flood disaster management plan. The plan includes guidelines about identifying and evacuating highly vulnerable residents early and contingency staffing arrangements to ensure that quality care can be provided to clients and that the health and safety of workers is protected. It quantifies the facility’s energy requirements and identifies essential equipment that must be maintained during disruptions to the power supply. Finally, it provides guidelines relating to appropriate food storage and handling, hygiene and disease prevention during floods.
Based on the planning process, the organisation purchases a generator for backup power and invests in solar panels with a battery bank to ensure that it is able to power essential equipment during disruptions to the power supply (e.g. medical equipment and refrigeration). At the same time it upgrades all appliances within the facility to meet the highest energy efficiency standards in order to reduce the amount of generated power required to maintain them during power outages. The organisation also creates stockpiles of non-perishable food items and medications to enable it to maintain service provision for two weeks if it becomes isolated from suppliers due to roadclosures.
Finally, it creates a register of vulnerable clients and associated guidelines for its regular review and maintenance.
The organisation also partners with other aged care and health service providers in the area to develop collaborative emergency response plans. These plans include procedures for evacuating highly vulnerable clients to alternative locations, including hospitals, prior to floods occurring as well as arrangements for sharing staff and supplies during emergencies. They also establish shared food and waste storage and refrigeration facilities.
By engaging in these activities the organisation ensures that it is able to evacuate its most vulnerable clients prior to a flood occurring and to maintaining the highest possible standards of care for those that remain in the facility by reducing the health risks associated with food spoilage and the failure of critical medical equipment. It also reduces the likelihood that all residents and staff will need to be evacuated from the centre, thus reducing the strain on emergency services as well as other aged care service providers and hospitals. Finally, in the case that the organisation is not directly affected or isolated by the flood, it is well prepared to accept and care for residents from affected services nearby and to second specialist staff, equipment and supplies to the response and recovery effort.
Example 3: Adapting Emergency Relief Service Provision to Cyclone Impacts
This example outlines the planning, adaptive and collaborative actions an emergency relief provider can take to manage, mitigate and transfer the risks to service provision from cyclone impacts and describes the benefits to clients, the broader social service system and the community from these actions.
Operating in a location prone to severe storms and cyclones, the organisation is acutely aware of the physical impacts they cause to the built and natural environments as well as the financial hardship caused by consequent spikes in unemployment through business closures and impacts to the tourism industry in particular, which in turn create increased demand for emergency relief. As a result it undertakes a disaster and emergency risk assessment, which focuses specifically on the direct and indirect risks to service continuity caused by cyclones. The assessment identifies that the organisation’s premises need to be upgraded to be more resilient to severe storms.
Based on the disaster and emergency risks assessment, the organisations secures a government grant to upgrade its facilities, which it uses to install reinforced windows and to purchase a new roof, made of materials highly resilient to strong winds. As a result of taking this action, it is able to extend its insurance cover against losses caused by cyclones and is also rewarded with a reduced insurance premium in recognition of the increased resilience of its premises.
The organisation also notifies the SES and the Red Cross about the upgrade to its facilities and enters into a formal agreement with the state government for its premises to be used as an emergency shelter in the event of a cyclone. As part of the agreement, the organisation negotiates for the insertion of new clauses into its funding agreement with the state government, which ensure that it cannot be penalised for failing to meet contractual obligations when it is engaged in response and recovery efforts and also trigger a 15% increase in funding when a cyclone is deemed to be a natural disaster to enable the organisation to respond to the short-term increase in demand for emergency relief. The additional funds can be used both to purchase material aid and to cover increased staffing costs.
Given the major disruptions to business continuity that cyclones have caused in the past, the organisation also develops a disaster management plan. The plan includes a communication strategy to warn clients about predicted events and to make sure they know that the organisation’s premises can be accessed as an emergency shelter.
Another key element of the plan is that it establishes collaborative arrangements for service provision with other community organisations as well as the local government during and after disasters. These arrangements include provisions for seconding staff from organisations in unaffected areas and sharing premises and resources. Finally, the plan also establishes a contingency fund for staff and volunteer, which it uses to provide crisis leave to those directly impacted by future disasters.
By undertaking these actions the organisation establishes itself as a place of refuge for clients and community members during cyclones and reduces the risk that it will be forced to close for a lengthy period in the aftermath of a cyclone due to damage caused to its premises. By securing additional funding for core service provision in the aftermath of a disaster, it also ensures that it is well placed to meet the short-term increase in demand for emergency relief. By including provisions to assist staff and to boost staffing levels to respond to increased demand, the organisation improves its ability to attract and retain staff and reduces the likelihood that they will burn out.
Finally, by ensuring that it is able to assist clients and members of the community affected by disruptions to their employment and income flows to meet their financial obligations, including power, fuel and grocery bills and mortgage and rent payments, the organisation helps to reduce the risks of homelessness and financial crisis faced by individuals and of increased, entrenched poverty within the community more broadly.
Example 4: Adapting an Out of Home Care Service Provider to Extreme Heat
This example outlines the planning, adaptive and collaborative actions a provider of Out Of Home Care services can take to manage, mitigate and transfer the risks to service provision from extreme heat impacts and describes the benefits to clients, the broader social service system and the community from these actions.
The organisation undertakes a number of activities to assist children, their families and foster carers to prepare for and manage extreme heat events. It educates families and carers about the impacts of extreme heat, including the signs and symptoms of heat stress, the relationship between extreme heat, alcohol consumption and the risk of aggressive behaviour and violence, as well as about simple strategies families can implement at home to keep cool on extremely hot days.
It works specifically with families in which children are at risk of abuse, neglect and being removed into foster care to develop extreme heat safety plans, which identify local cool spaces the family can go to keep cool and formal and informal respite care options for children, including low-cost or supported child care centres and play groups or members of the extended families. It also works with foster carers to identify options for respite care for children in their care during extreme heat events.
The organisation also develops and implements plans and actions to adapt its own service delivery to extreme heat events. First, it establishes a system for monitoring weather predictions to enable the early identification of upcoming periods of extreme heat and the timely implementation of its newly developed extreme heat service delivery plan. This plan incorporates access and response plans for vulnerable families and foster carers, including the development of a register of at risk children and families, guidelines for scheduling appointments immediately prior to and after extreme heat events, maintaining regular phone contact to monitor their wellbeing during periods of extreme heat and the establishment of an emergency hotline for children or families to call if there is a crisis during an extreme heat event. It also identifies a range of alternative cool locations convenient to children, their families and foster carers that appointments can take place during periods of extreme heat, such as other CSOs, schools and child care centres.
The organisation builds partnerships with other service providers in the area and formalises memorandums of understanding with them regarding the shared use of office space and meeting rooms during periods of extreme heat. Further, it partners with the state department of community services to develop collaborative system for monitoring and supporting at risk families during heat waves to reduce the risk of negative outcomes for children.
All of these actions result in the continuity of high quality care for children, their families and foster carers during extreme heat events. With adequate support to manage the heat, children are at reduced risk of violence and abuse and of being separated from their families. The risk of foster care arrangements breaking down is also reduced as is families’ contact with child protection services and the criminal justice system. Better health and education outcomes for children are achieved
Community Sector Risk and Adaptation Registers
In addition to these examples, the Community Sector Risk and Adaptation Registers introduced in Step 3 identify a comprehensive range of adaptation options specifically for the community sector. This information is made easily accessible to you by Climate Risk who manage the Community Sector Risk Register. Instructions for how to access and use the Registers are included in Step 3.
Visit the risk register for some adaptation inspiration today: http://riskregister.climaterisk.com.au/.
Making sure your premises are well maintained can have a big impact on reducing the risk of damage during an emergency. These can be quite simple measures such as ensuring your gutters are cleaned regularly, maintaining vegetation, driveways and other access points and storing items safely.
Depending on the risks you have identified for your organisation (and your financial capacity) you may need to think about retrofitting or rebuilding your premises. There are lots of exciting options to consider, including:
- Design to keep your building cooler so it is less reliant on air-conditioning
- Insulate, insulate, insulate!
- Use fire retardant materials
- Have an independent power supply so if the electricity is cut off you can continue to operate essential equipment
- Stilts! If you are in a flood prone area go up a level.
Your local emergency services will be able to help you identify actions you can take to maintain your premises to reduce your risk. Go and have a chat with them.