If You Aren’t Assessing Hazards, What Are You Basing Your Preparedness On?

I just read an article from Campus Safety Magazine which cited a report on college campus preparedness.  Some of the numbers are a bit disturbing.  To me, the most serious numbers are from this graphic, which came from the Margolis Healy 2015 Campus Safety Survey:

Hazard_Assessment_Margolis_Healy_2015

According to this graphic, 26.5% of college campuses surveyed have not conducted a hazard and vulnerability assessment and 18.8% do not know if they have conducted an assessment.  Given that this study identified that 86% of colleges have an emergency operations plan, there is a significant number within this study who have what I would consider baseless plans.

Given these statistics, I’m left wondering WHY these campuses haven’t conducted a hazard analysis.  Potential reasons?

  • Didn’t know they needed to
  • Didn’t want to
  • Assumed they were aware of the hazards, impacts, etc.

I’m sure there are some other potential reasons for why they didn’t conduct a hazard analysis, but these are bound to be the big ones.  Regardless of the reason, I’m left assuming that, besides the plan being based upon no actual hazard information, the rest of the plan is BASELESS, INEFFECTUAL CRAP.

Forgive me for being blunt (you don’t have to), but if you aren’t assessing hazards, what are you basing your preparedness on?  Just as planning is the cornerstone of preparedness, a hazard analysis is the foundation of planning.  Therefore no (or a poor) hazard analysis will very likely result in a poor plan, and a poor plan will very likely result in poor preparedness efforts overall.

I’m not just picking on college campuses.  While this study targeted institutions of higher education, this same concern (likely with similar statistics) applies to EVERYONE – jurisdictions and government agencies, the private sector, and not for profits.

So what are we dealing with?  The parties responsible for creating these emergency plans are either UNINFORMED, LAZY, or UNDERFUNDED/UNDERSTAFFED.  To me, none of these are valid excuses.

  • Uninformed? Study up!  It’s not difficult to find out what the planning standards are.  (see the next paragraph)
  • LAZY? QUIT YOUR JOB! – you shouldn’t be in public safety.
  • Underfunded or understaffed? Welcome to public safety.  What could possibly help justify more funding or staff than a solid assessment?

If you need information on planning standards, check out these posts.  I talk about CPG-101, which is the foundation for emergency planning in the US; and a variety of other planning and hazard analysis related topics.

Need help?  It just so happens that I’m a well-qualified consultant.  Our website is linked below.

© 2015 – Timothy Riecker

Emergency Preparedness Solutions, LLC

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