Preparedness: it’s all about capabilities and capacities

What? That sounds like a slogan and you’re right, it is. Actually, it’s a good one because it elegantly sums up what preparedness is all about. But what exactly does ‘capabilities and capacities’ actually mean, why should you care and what does it have to do with preparedness? These are excellent questions. Here is a quick explainer.

In a nutshell: capability is your ability or skill to do something and your capacity is about whether you actually have the means and tools to do so.

So, how does ‘capabilities and capacities’ apply to preparedness and why should I care?

It’s all about you and what exactly happens when you are affected by an emergency or disaster. Fact is: in a real emergency or disaster, the emergency services will respond but cannot get to everyone right away. It pays to be ready and better prepared so that you are not left entirely helpless and can respond.

Preparedness capabilities and capacities are about what YOU can do – YOUR skill set – and how well you can apply your skill set because of the tools and equipment you can access.

So, as you can see, the two concepts build on each another and come together. Thus the slogan ‘Preparedness is all about capabilities and capacities’ works pretty well. And there is more…

Preparedness is about being pro-active rather than just re-active. Another way of saying this is

Preparedness is  (the capacity and capability of) bouncing forward so that you can bounce back faster

after an emergency or disaster. It goes beyond being re-active, as for example in the RUN, TELL, HIDE advice. Sometimes you simply can’t or don’t want to do that and besides, there are many emergencies other than a weapons attack; for more along those lines see Security & Safety Update then also head to what are invacuation, lockdown and shelter-in-place and what exactly does safe self-evacuation look like? If you are involved with NGOs see Rethinking Resilience: Capacities of relief staff and volunteers in disaster zones.

But back to ‘capabilities and capacities’ and some more detail. Naturally you need real life skills such as first aid training and emergency planning for which we give you a lot of free resources at our preparedness hub.

That’s a good start but it’s actually not enough. Just imagine for a moment that you are the best trained doctor or nurse in the world but your first aid kit /emergency grab bag / crisis response kit is empty….Right, you immediately get where this is going: you need the right tools to be better prepared. Luckily you already are in the best place for just exactly that – it’s easy:

Take a look at How to build your own emergency kit and also  the Survival Kit List. If you own a business or know someone who does, explore and share Business Preparedness. Check out the many standard Emergency Kit Grab Bags listed or perhaps you are after a custom-made Emergency Kit tailored specifically to you.

Get better prepared – bounce back faster: upgrade your capabilities and capacities. Start today!



For more Resilience Blog simply use the right hand navigation. For emergency kits and practical resources use the top navigation. For more on Emergency and Disaster Preparedness head over to our FREE resources at the Preparedness Hub and find out why we use humour. If you like this post, please share it to help raise awareness for Emergency and Disaster Preparedness.

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For real-life insight into professional capabilities and capacities, take a look at the BBC’s ‘Hospital’ episode 1 season 2 | London Bridge attack victims being treated at St Mary’s Hospital Paddington.

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