08. 03. 2018


BY Inês Cândido Silva, Nuno Duarte and Paulo Alberto, EDP distribuição

Resilience is a comprehensive term that refers to a series of mechanisms and processes of adapting and coping which are influenced by the interaction between individuals, social relationships and environmental/community contexts. Resilience is the result of the base adaptive capability of the human systems, operating as they should. Those adaptive systems include, among other things, the ability to problem-solve, the motivation to learn and master new skills, the development of strong and secure relationships, and cultural traditions that foster opportunities for learning, mentoring, social rituals, and other adaptive activities. The concept resilience can be adopted in different fields, such as personal resilience, organizational/collective resilience or urban resilience, among others.

Organizations have a legal and moral obligation to protect and enhance the well-being of their personnel. To achieve this goal, they have the responsibility to take reasonable steps to mitigate predictable risks for health and safety of their employees, including both physical and psychological aspects. Taking steps to mitigate those risks helps organizations to fulfill its duty of care and to improve its overall resilience.

Long-term global resilience strategies could be even more robust if they include human and cultural factors, associated with the participation of local communities, municipalities, emergency managers, critical infrastructures operators and urban planning, as they are complementary partners that can help to enhance operational responders and community’s resilience, to prepare against disasters that may occur.

The adverse physical and psychological effects of stress in operational responders are a foreseeable hazard that must be considered. Such stress can result in both short and long-term negative consequences for the organizations and raise operational risks.

Operational responsibles (at both individual and team levels) in the majority of cases are able to recover from acute stress using their own coping skills and the support from the colleagues and family. Nevertheless, experiencing long and significant distress may signal Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), a chronic, disabling stress disorder. In this sense, it is crucial to detect changes in employee’s behavior and to provide him or her professional and psychological support, through either individual or group counseling. Working proactively on operational stress control is a part of organizational culture and social responsibility. Psychological resilience is a key contributor to improve Operational Resilience and nowadays, more and more organizations are establishing programs and offering services to promote it.

A society composed of resilient organizations and groups can easier prepare for, respond to, and recover from adverse situations. It is also important to consider that cities are a very diverse ecosystem, with different cultures, religions, traditions, and that cultural factors can play a very relevant role in determining the way how people response to stress, engage in crisis management and accept disaster relief in an emergency. However, these factors can also negatively impact the professional response to disaster because of the lack of cultural understanding, sensitivity and competencies as well as due to lack of understanding of the cultural background of the victims of a disaster. To go further in this specific topic CARISMAND European Project is developing an interest work (www.carismand.eu).

Today we have more and more technological innovations to cope with the impacts such as the future RESCCUE tool, but the personal and collective resilience is not less important, as in critical moments there is a human who takes a crucial decision.