This morning I got out of bed and ready for the day ahead risking falling over or twisting an ankle putting my clothes on. I drove to check on my horse at the stables, risking a car accident. I used a range of tools to clean out my horse, risking an agricultural injury. And when I got home I made a cup of tea and some toast risking burning myself.
None of those risks actually happened but I had made a calculated decision to carry on with the activity despite the many risks. Our appetite and understanding of risk is something that is becoming central to the discussions around living with Covid-19. The headlines today are looking at the risks of having the Astra Zeneca vaccine compared with the risk of not having it. But we have been so used to taking risks without thinking about it that when we have to think about it we are stopped in our tracks.
Yesterday I listened to an interesting webinar looking at building community resilience and the inputs included people working to develop community resilience in other countries. One speaker discussed the CERT programme in America and what it brings when volunteers start to assist in the response in a managed way. It led to a discussion about what we could see here in the UK and how much people may benefit from programmes to discuss emergencies, disasters and crises.
What is clear to me is that we have to do much more in the months and years ahead to help people to recognise how risks can and should be managed, what to do when a crisis happens, how they can help with the response and ultimately how this will build resilient communities.
Everything in life has risks attached to it. Even lying in bed has risks of deep vain thrombosis or other health issues. We face these risks all the time but put them to the back of our mind. Why do we drive cars? Because they help us get from A to B and that outweighs the risks of being involved in an accident. The vaccine discussion has become a focus because it is something new that we are trying to assess, and we need to reason through the situation.
The past 12 months and the future of living with Covid-19 has brought our mortality right into our daily lives. We don’t want to think about dying and we like the certainty and predictability of each day. In reality, we don’t know what is round the corner and one minute we are living life and the next we are gone. I don’t mean to get morbid but it is just fact. As the saying goes there are only two certainties in life – death and taxes.
What we really need to do is have an ongoing discussion about risks and how we assess and deal with risks in our daily lives. Nothing is 100 per cent safe and that is just something we have to accept.