Building Personal Resilience

Without meaning to, my last couple posts have led me to the idea of building personal resilience.  If we accept that all emergencies are local, then you can’t get more local than an individual person.  If we are to be able to build resilience towards future emergencies, we need to start by building up everyone’s personal resilience.

In my former career as an EMS dispatcher, I was continually surprised by people who would call in and be entirely unable to cope with even the most minor of issues.  Now, as someone who dispatched Fire and EMS for 5 years, and worked in various areas of both Fire and EMS for a decade (sometimes dispatching myself…the joys of volunteering), I admit that my resilience towards emergencies is significantly higher than most people’s. When I say that they were unable to cope with minor issues, I’m talking about people who would call 911 and sound so frantic, I thought someone was dying.  When I finally determined what was actually happening, it would be a small laceration, or a trip and fall, or another relatively minor incident.

Before I go any further, I want to be clear here: I have never once thought that a call I received wasn’t an emergency, at least to the person calling.  I would much rather receive a thousand calls that don’t turn out to be emergencies than not receive a call when someone really needs help.  I’m proud of my work as a dispatcher, and even on my worst day I was always happy to be able to help people no matter how minor the situation ended up being.

I give the above example of people who seemed to have no personal resilience, and seemed to be unable to cope with even a relatively minor illness or injury.  It’s places and people like this where some relatively easy cognitive changes can make a big difference. It’s these situations where I want to start with some relatively easy tips and tricks to help people become more resilient in their attitude towards life.  People who have better personal resiliency in small things are people who will be more resilient in the face of major emergencies or disasters.

I need to acknowledge that I hold many privileges that have helped me be more resilient than others:

  1. I am White;
  2. I am Male;
  3. I come from an upper-middle class family;
  4. I live in a first-world country;
  5. I graduated secondary school;
  6. I was able to attend (but did not finish) post-secondary school;
  7. In the course of my career, I have responded to over 1000 inter-facility non-emergency transfers; approximately 700 9-1-1 calls as a Firefighter and First Responder; thousands of 9-1-1 calls as a Fire/EMS dispatcher; 2 disaster declarations at the State/Province level, 5 years working as a Security Guard, and participated in a major disaster exercise; and
  8. I have thousands of hours of training supplemented by thousands of other hours of personal reading and learning.

All of that being said, the things I’m going to talk about over the next few posts are things that apply regardless of privilege (or lack thereof).  These won’t be product or equipment reviews, but instead things to think about and ways to look at the world that will help you as an individual become more resilient.  I may look at products and equipment in the future, but that’s not the focus of this personal resilience series.

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2 thoughts on “Building Personal Resilience

  1. Pingback: Personal Resilience (Last) Part 4: What You can do About it… | Always Learning

  2. Pingback: Engaging Faith Communities in Emergency Management Functions | Always Learning

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