The PACE method is a way of planning and responding to problems. You have a variety of solutions available to you, so you can pick a way to solve the problem. The PACE method has four components:
When engaging in an activity, you have a primary method. Let’s say something happens and I need a flashlight. I carry a flashlight for this purpose, and it is my primary solution for light. This is typically the intended solution, a simple and expected route. When I need to see something in the dark, I pull out my flashlight. As we all well know, the flashlight might not work for some unknown reason. In the event that it doesn’t work, I have some backup options. While I may carry extra batteries or an extra bulb to fix the flashlight, this may take time I don’t have to repair the light. In that case, I need a backup.
This is an alternate to the primary route. Typically, this is something that should be fairly easy to deploy, and something I’m familiar/comfortable with using. In the event my flashlight does not work, I may resort to using a key chain flashlight. Not quite as bright, not as durable, but it gets me through the situation until I can repair/return to my primary method. The alternate method shouldn’t slow you down considerably from the task at hand. It may take you a minute to get it out, and you may not prefer to sit and hold the button on the light, but you can accomplish whichever task you are trying to execute without a noticeable delay.
A contingent route is your third route to execute the task. This method is not going to be as preferred as the previous two, but the other two routes have failed you for whatever reason. This may be a route you are not quite as familiar with, or happy using. Also, it shouldn’t slow you down considerably from accomplishing your task. In this case, I may decide to pull out my cell phone and use the cell phone screen as a light. It is going to accomplish the task, but now I have to hold my phone out in the elements to get the light from the screen. This may increase the risk of me damaging my phone some how, but I need the light for the task.
In this method, all other routes have been exhausted. This method is definitely not preferred, and may not be something you are comfortable/familiar with using, but you are aware it exists as a possibility. It may delay you from accomplishing your task, but you can get it done in the end. If I drop my phone, or the battery dies, I may pull out a lighter and use it as a temporary light source. This is going to be a route of last resort, and may take a considerable amount of effort to accomplish the task. Don’t think of emergent as the quickest route in an emergency… think of emergent as the route of last resort.
So the PACE method can help us in planning for different events. When we add this with our discussion on Maslow’s Hierarchy, we can evaluate different routes for ensuring that our primary needs are met. When I go camping, my primary shelter is my tent. My alternate shelter would be to put up my tarp and stay underneath it. My contingent plan would be to build a lean-to shelter, and my emergent method would be to find a cave. As you can see, this method is something that can be applied to a wide variety of resources.