Emergency Planning Officer
Lewisham County Council

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Gerry C

00:00:03 I’m Gerry C, and I’m an Emergency Planning Officer for the London Borough of Lewisham. An Emergency Planning Officer’s role is a wide and varied one, and the wonderful thing is as well is that the risks, the threats, the hazards that are faced by an organisation, are dynamic, they’re always evolving. I mean at certain times of the year, flooding’s going to be a much higher priority, whereas in the winter months, things like pandemic flu are much, much higher risk. I really, really like the challenge. I like the fact that it’s an ever-changing role, and I do like the fact that there aren’t two days that are the same.

00:00:48 Oh as I was going through school I certainly – I had a real focus, and I worked towards it as well. I wanted to be a lawyer. And I’d been lucky enough to spend some time – a little bit of work experience if you will – as a little temp – a temporary arrangement working for a solicitors’ office. And I think the reality didn’t quite match the dream, shall we say. It was a complete culture shock to me. There was a system shock first, just having this pre-conceived notion of what I wanted to do, I wanted to be a lawyer, I want to help people, I want to be able to interact and engage with people. But then realising that the real dedication is to the books. You will only be spending about ten percent of your time dealing with clients. I guess that wasn’t enough job satisfaction being offered for me. And I really wasn’t prepared for that.

00:01:48 Well in my career I wouldn’t have said anything has held me back, other than perhaps choices that I may have made. As I said beforehand, the real focus for my life and educational studies, was Law. Learning to overcome these set methods that had been ingrained for a number of years, and learning to be much more open-minded – that was a challenge, at first. Didn’t hold me back. I guess it fuelled me further. Studying Law has taught me a lot of things. But becoming an Emergency Planning Officer has helped me grow a lot more, I guess. And it certainly – certainly pushed me forward, and it’s made me a lot more proactive as well.

00:02:39 Well now that I know about it, I think if I could do anything at all I’d be an Emergency Planning Officer. Whilst you realise how much danger and threat that we face on a day to day basis, it also makes you realise how well people cope in the face of massive adversity. I mean, getting to meet people at 3 o’clock in the morning, when they’ve been evacuated from their house – that’s not the best starting terms to – to be reaching. They’re scared, they’re tired, they’re confused, they’re disoriented, but still the whole idea, the whole community, the whole human spirit, it always wins out. It’s a beautiful thing to see. You could have rival factions, you could have different political – different religious beliefs – in the time of emergency, it doesn’t matter, because people come together. And it’s an incredible feeling, and it’s not something that I’m sure you’d be able to see in many other walks of life, it’s a pretty unique feature of our job.

00:03:47 ENDS

Gerry C is Emergency Planning Officer for the London Borough of Lewisham. He has to make and implement plans for things like floods, flu epidemics and blizzards. He thought he wanted to be a lawyer, but work experience made him change his mind. He felt he needed a job which engages with people. He enjoys his work and says “becoming an Emergency Planning Officer has helped me grow”.

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