Centre for Resilient Communities

The applied research projects that are housed within the Centre for Resilient Communities enable communities to build on and enhance their ability to plan for and be more effective and resilient in the case of emergency disasters.


Building resilient communities workshop report
The Building Resilient Communities Workshop, February 25-26, 2014 was hosted and organized by the Justice Institute of British Columbia (JIBC), with the support of the Emergency Management British Columbia (EMBC) and the Canadian Safety and Security Program (CSSP), Defence Research and Development Canada (DRDC) Centre for Security Science (CSS). Thirty-four participants from multiple levels of government, senior practitioners, policy makers, academia, community members and a variety of agencies disseminated knowledge and developed concrete strategies and priority actions areas for supporting ongoing and emerging initiatives in community and disaster resilience planning. Participants also heard reports on CRHNet Aboriginal Resiliency Report Update and provided a forum for a Value Based Focus Group for the Community Resilience Community of Practice. Identified strategies included development of an integrated national strategy and finding ongoing sustainability funding; increasing community engagement through information sharing, giving context specific examples of anticipated outcomes, and demonstrating return on investment; as well as the need to engage and support local champions and embedding disaster resilience within other processes. A key message was that communities should be encouraged to use ANY tool or process, rather than struggling to find the perfect. Any engagement with disaster resilience planning increases community resilience.
Building resilient communities workshop: executive summary
The Building Resilient Communities workshop brought together key stakeholders in Canadian community resilience planning with the goal of sharing their experiences and developing concrete strategies to support ongoing and emerging initiatives in community and disaster resilience planning. Thirty-four participants from multiple levels of government, senior practitioners, policy makers, academia, community members and a variety of agencies examined current practices and existing disaster resilience tools, then identified enablers and constraints on community participation in disaster resilience planning. Overarching themes from this discussion were used to identify priorities and specific action areas for fostering awareness and encouraging uptake of existing and emerging projects.
Modeling psychosocial decision making in emergency operations centres
The researchers compared the effectiveness of two decision models for modeling decision making in Emergency Operations Centers (EOCs): Klein’s Recognition Primed Decision (RPD) model and Gladwin’s Ethnographic Decision Tree Model (EDTM). The focus was on decisions that affect the psychological and social well-being of responders and community members. Communities of EOC personnel participated in a simulated emergency event, followed by an interview and/or focus group. Analysis of the decisionmaking processes during the simulation revealed that most operational decisions were made intuitively, with expertise, and best modeled by RPD. When the decisions involved issues for which EOC personnel had less experience (e.g., psychosocial issues), the decision-making approach shifted from a fast intuitive style to a more deliberative style. In some cases, EOC staff requested additional information before making a decision. With no formalized feedback loops, decisions were delayed or not made at all, leaving community residents and EOC personnel without psychosocial services for unnecessary lengths of time. The researchers found the RPD model to be most useful in its potential for identifying areas where future training (i.e., simulated exercises) and education (i.e., knowledge transfer) could be offered to EOC personnel to improve the provision of psychosocial services.
Perceptions of psychosocial training on behavioural responses in emergency operations centres
When a disaster strikes, the well-being of Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) personnel is often not the first priority for emergency managers working to help provide support to their local community and the incident command site. Through the development and testing of an iterative series of simulation exercises with EOC personnel, this study identified adverse psychosocial outcomes that may emerge within an EOC during an emergency. Having identified a number of practices which led to less than desired psychosocial outcomes, researchers developed a training and awareness video to identify the practices and demonstrate strategies to overcome negative impacts. A comparative analysis was undertaken to compare EOC actions pre- and post-exposure to the video. The results indicated a change in behaviour following the viewing of the video and supported training initiatives that stress the importance of strong leadership in an EOC, encouraging staff to take breaks, respecting diversity, and providing psychosocial support.
Self-care decontamination within a chemical exposure mass-casualty incident
Growing awareness and concern for the increasing frequency of incidents involving hazardous materials (HazMat) across a broad spectrum of contaminants from chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) sources indicates a clear need to refine the capability to respond successfully to mass-casualty contamination incidents. Best results for decontamination from a chemical agent will be achieved if done within minutes following exposure, and delays in decontamination will increase the length of time a casualty is in contact with the contaminate. The findings presented in this report indicate that casualties involved in a HazMat/CBRN mass-casualty incident (MCI) in a typical community would not receive sufficient on-scene care because of operational delays that are integral to a standard HazMat/CBRN first response. This delay in response will mean that casualty care will shift away from the incident scene into already over-tasked health care facilities as casualties seek aid on their own. The self-care decontamination protocols recommended here present a viable option to ensure decontamination is completed in the field, at the incident scene, and that casualties are cared for more quickly and less traumatically than they would be otherwise. Introducing self-care decontamination procedures as a standard first response within the response community will improve the level of care significantly and provide essential, self-care decontamination to casualties. The process involves three distinct stages which should not be delayed; these are summarized by the acronym MADE: Move/Assist, Disrobe/Decontaminate, Evaluate/Evacuate.
The influence of organizational support on the life course of trauma in emergency responders from British Columbia
Research has consistently demonstrated that following a response to an emergency incident, first responders and first receivers, support staff, and civilian responders are likely to experience trauma. The aim of this article is to explore if the traumatization of emergency responders is influenced by the nature of organizational support toward the psychosocial recovery of staff and volunteers. Twenty-two qualitative inter- views were conducted with emergency responders from British Columbia, Canada. Using content analysis, findings indicate that there are similarities in how organizational support (or the lack thereof) influences the life course of traumatization. Pertinent factors include the occupational requirements of each agency, their organizational culture, and the quality and quantity of policies and practices that place emphasis on well-being. Possible methods for improving organizational support for emergency responders include providing additional post-event information to responders to permit emotional closure from the event, empowering field supervisors to provide timely and appropriate treatment options, and lastly, to shift organizational culture to recognizing and responding to the psychological well-being of staff and volunteers as vital to the operation of an organization.