Hazards Risk Assessment Methodology for Emergency Managers: A Standardized Framework for Application

Authors: Ferrier, N.1; Haque, C.E.2

Source: Natural Hazards, Volume 28, Numbers 2-3, March 2003 , pp. 271-290(20)

Publisher: Springer

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The public and the decision and policy makers who serve them too often have a view of community risks that is influenced and distorted significantly by media exposure and common misconceptions. The regulators and managers, responsible for planning and coordination of a community's mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery efforts, are originated from a variety of disciplines and levels of education. Not only must these individuals deal with the misconceptions of their communities, but also frequently lack a basic methodology for the assessment of risks. The effective planning of mitigation and response are, however, directly dependent upon the understanding of the complexities, types, and nature of risks faced by the community, determining the susceptible areas, and conceptualizing human vulnerability.

In this study, a review of the existing literature on both the conceptual underpinnings of risk and its assessment is attempted. A standardized framework is proposed for use by all emergency managers, regardless of training or education. This framework consists of the numerical ranking of the frequency of the event in the community, multiplied by a numerical ranking of the severity or magnitude of an event in a given community, based upon the potential impact characteristics of a `worst-case' scenario. This figure is then multiplied by a numerical ranking indicating the Social Consequence; a combination of community perception of risk level and collective will to address the problem. The resulting score, which is not strictly scientific, would permit emergency managers from a variety of backgrounds to compare levels of community exposure to such disparate events as hazardous materials spills and tornadoes, and to set priorities for both mitigation efforts and for the acquisition of response needs, within the availability of community resources.

Keywords: community vulnerability; emergency management; mitigation; natural disasters; resilience; risk assessment; technological disasters

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Toronto Emergency Medical Services, Toronto, Canada, E-mail: norm-ferrier@rogers.com 2: Natural Resources Institute, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada R3T 2N2, E-mail: haquece@ms.umanitoba.ca

Publication date: March 1, 2003

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