So in the previous posts in this series we have learned how to analyze our environment and risks, inventory our skills, mental and physical readiness and our equipment. Now we come to the hard part- identifying gaps and shortfalls and determining how to address them.
We’ll begin by laying out our risk assessment (what scenarios are the most likely and what impact they will have if they occur), with our environmental conditions (how does the natural and man-made environment contribute to our our risks and scenarios) then cross reference our skills and equipment capabilities against those scenarios and conditions. This process is comparing what you can do right now with the conditions and scenarios created by a certain risk occurring. Ideally you would lay this out as a matrix- scenarios down the left hand column, skills and kit across the top, and 1’s or 0’s at the intersection wherein a 1 means that the particular capability meets the needs of the scenario and a 0 means it does not, or you have zero capabilities to address this particular condition or hazard.
Now we’ll move on to the second part of this exercise- determining gaps in your capabilities. Examine your matrix and find where you have a preponderance of 0’s- is it in food stocks, water supply or purification, self defense, first aid training, map reading, etc? These places where you have a 0 are where you gaps reside and this matrix gives you the start of a good road map to filling in those gaps.
So, we are at the point where we have gaps identified and hopefully you can prioritize them according to your needs (here’s a hint- prioritize them by the impact of the associated risk and it’s likelihood of occurrence). Before you go out a drop a bunch of cash (which for most of us is in short supply) determine whether the gap can be mitigated with a skill or a materiel. In general, skills and knowledge are cheaper to come by than equipment. If you have a gap that can be filled with training or with a materiel item, focus on the skill first. This can accomplish two things- you could mitigate the gap with knowledge alone, or if you must buy a piece of equipment, you now have the mental tools to evaluate the available options and determine which piece of equipment best fits your needs and your present skills. If this was my gap matrix, I would group my gaps into “like” categories and from there develop mitigation strategies that would address large groups of gaps simultaneously. This approach helps leverage limited resources.
In summation of the series- identify conditions, assess risks and scenarios, identify your capabilities, determine gaps and outline a mitigation strategy that focuses on skills rather than equipment.