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2012 To-do List

No predictions! - Four actions for preparedness in the New Year

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Like many of you, I like to make predictions around this time of year and, like many others, these predictions fall short of reality and are forgotten in a few weeks. We can do better! For 2012 I’m not making any predictions...I’m giving you a to-do list! A four point list of actions to take that will make you, your agency, and your community more prepared for naturally occurring disasters and intentional events. Take these items one at a time...and take your time with each. You’ll be surprised how fast you’ll be able to improve your preparedness.

Conduct a Hazard Vulnerability Assessment (HVA). Some might call this a hazard vulnerability inventory (HVI). The Hazard Vulnerability Assessment (HVA) examines the occurrence or potential occurrence of a given hazard(s) in your community. The impact of the hazard(s) should be measured in terms of impact or threat to life and health, physical damage, and damage/disruption to critical infrastructure.  Your HVA should also account for economic and social factors that will increase vulnerability to any given hazard. The Hazard Vulnerability Assessment is not a prediction but an analysis designed to answer questions or “what if” scenarios.
If you’ve done your Hazard Vulnerability Assessment, great. Then add a review and validation of that assessment to your To-do List for 2012.

Work on your Pre Incident Plans. Pre planning can be a never ending chore. Hazards change, threats increase and decrease, and capabilities may also change. The general basis for pre planning emergency and disaster situations is to maintain a certain level of preparedness and interoperability. Your pre plans should include regional and local response to biological events, both naturally occurring and intentional acts. Consider incorporating regional plans into your local pre planning as well. I’d also suggest a review of any plans to receive assets and resources during crisis situations. One such area to consider is a plan to receive assets from the Strategic National Stockpile or other supply. Consider including or updating pre plans that are specific for public information, explosive events, and active shooter events. Click here for more on Pre Incident Planning.

Define your Target Hazards. A target hazard can be defined as a location or area that poses an increased level of interest or attraction to an intentional event. Target hazards can also be identified as those areas or locations that have increased life hazard or secondary risk associated with them. Locations of critical infrastructure should be on your target hazard list as well. Critical infrastructure includes any location or service that, if lost or compromised, would limit or stop your ability to provide service. Power generation, water treatment, hospitals, public service should all be considered areas of critical infrastructure. When defining your target hazards, don’t limit yourself to those locations within your community. You should consider the high value/critical infrastructure locations in neighboring jurisdictions as well. Doing so will increase your preparation and effectiveness during mutual aid responses.

Combine your Hazard Vulnerability Assessment (HVA), Pre Incident Plans, and Target Hazard Identification into training. Use the Exercise Design Process to build realistic training opportunities. Don’t be afraid to start small or call on an outside expert to help construct your training activities. Build on what you do now...start with small seminars to summarize the training objectives and raise awareness to the situation, then conduct a tabletop exercise to add an element of stress yet provide a safe training environment. After you’ve built your training base, move on to a series of drills that test one or two elements of your plan. You can then move on to conducting functional exercises testing large plans in realistic field scenarios. For 5 tips to improve your exercise design click here.

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