Take Your Emergency Management Program to the Next Level with Consequence Management

Roger Glick

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Sep 29, 2023

Risk analysis is the cornerstone of most meaningful emergency management programs. Typically, this involves conducting a Hazard Vulnerability Analysis (HVA) or Threat and Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment (THIRA) to identify and prioritize the hazards and threats facing a community, organization, or building. Once identified, the top hazards and threats become the primary focus of the program’s risk mitigation and emergency preparedness efforts. (For more on HVAs, see Matthew Icenroad’s excellent blog, “Hazard Vulnerability Analysis in Healthcare: Achieving Accuracy in Our Risk Assessments.”)

A different and, in many cases, more effective approach to emergency management programs is to build preparedness around the consequences of the hazard rather than the hazard itself. Take evacuations, for example. The general response to a fire, act of violence, utility outage or severe weather event is all the same – to evacuate. Evacuation preparedness is generally the same regardless of the hazard. Evacuation pathways are mapped, equipment is purchased (e.g., stair chairs) and training is performed, among other steps. In other words, the consequence (i.e., evacuation) is the same regardless of the cause (e.g., fire, violence, utility outage, severe weather).

While emergency responders require hazard-specific preparedness (e.g., training and equipment), most people impacted by an emergency are bystanders. Centering their preparedness around the consequence of the hazard rather than the hazard itself can greatly increase efficiency and sustainability.

The Assistant Vice President for Emergency Management at a well-known research university recently said, “Once we changed from hazard-specific preparedness to consequence management preparedness, the number of plans our faculty and students had to learn dropped from more than twenty to three. They either continue as normal (or some slight status of altered normal), defend in place or evacuate.” Training stakeholders on three emergency plans rather than twenty is obviously easier and more sustainable. Stakeholders will be more likely to remember those plans during an emergency.

Another value of consequence management is that it enables understanding and planning for cascading and compounding emergencies, unlike hazard-specific preparedness. Consequence management also allows for consideration of an emergency's wider ramifications and impacts, including factors relating to an organization’s business continuity and continuity of operations programs.

As a world-class leader in hazard identification and consequence management, Jensen Hughes can help take your organization’s emergency management program to the next level. Our experts will work with you to increase the efficiency and sustainability of your program so you can be better prepared for your next emergency event. Learn more about our emergency management services, including our Business Continuity, Response Planning, and Health Care Emergency Preparedness services.

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About the author

Roger Glick
Roger is an emergency management expert with specific expertise in healthcare. Having more than 20 years in the industry, he has worked with rural Critical Access Hospitals, large academic medical centers, regional healthcare systems, healthcare coalitions, colleges and universities, and government organizations.