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Volume 16 Issue 4 

At the EENA 112 conference in Latvia this November, Patrick Lagadec took a satirical approach in his keynote presentation. The CRJ Advisory Panel Member discussed the Covid-19 pandemic from the perspective of the virus itself, drawing parallels with other crises. He analysed the virus’s strategy in which its ‘special forces unit’ repeatedly expressed gleeful amazement at how humanity is facilitating Covid-19’s deadly mission at every step.

Why do we so often make it easy for disasters to take hold and cause such tragic tolls? One reason, posits Gill Kernick on p68, is that: “Many of our top-down, bureaucratic and mechanistic ways of thinking, grounded in mythical cause and effect narratives… are becoming redundant.”

Feedback in the session I moderated at the European Forum for Disaster Risk Reduction has also stuck with me. One participant noted: “We need to know our citizens better.” Another highlighted the continued weakness in approaching disaster at a cross-sectoral level.

This is the very raison d’être of the CRJ – to encourage knowledge sharing and action between disciplines; the articles on p38 and 62 exemplify good practice in applying transfer of expertise. 

And on p74, Stefan Flothmann discusses how to change the mindsets of disaster-afflicted communities to ensure better recovery and resilience. The psychosocial phases he discusses are equally evident in nations, businesses, emergency responders and individuals; in other words, across most of humanity. Today, many seem to be gripped by the ‘disillusionment’ phase, ground down by the painful, drawn-out pandemic crisis.

This theme continues in Jennifer Hesterman’s guest-edited focus on the USA (p78), an unflinching snapshot of issues in fire and rescue services, police and emergency management. A recurring concern – among other issues – is the public loss of trust. 

We must rectify this. Solutions are there, but political posturing, geopolitical jostling, opportunism, protectionism and empire building are endemic. If we don’t change, we are all simply facilitators: collaborators with, and enablers of our common enemy – disaster.    

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