There are many hazards that pose a threat to the residents of the Town of Poland. Some hazard threats are considered "Significant," while others are not. One of the responsibilities of the Poland Emergency Management Agency is to determine which hazards pose the greatest risk, and to develop an Emergency Operations Plan to provide guidance for town officials before, during, and after a large scale emergency or disaster.
The Poland Emergency Mangement Agency has conducted a Hazard Analysis in conjunction with its development of an Emergency Operations Plan. This Hazard used four criteria to determine the most significant threats to residents in the town.
The number of occurrences of disasters in the past is important in hazard analysis. If a certain kind of disaster occurred, a sufficient number of hazardous conditions were present to cause the catastrophe. Unless these conditions have been eliminated or substantially reduced, a similar disaster may recur.
History must be used with caution. If there is no record of a specific incident having occurred in an area, it does not necessarily mean that there is no hazard or disaster potential. Also, the technical and social framework of society changes rapidly. New hazards may be created without these changes being recorded in the relevant history of a community. Conversely, a high history may not indicate a high probability if mitigation procedures have been implemented.
Vulnerability allows for the measurement of the percentage of the population that might be killed, injured or displaced and all property that might be damaged or destroyed due to a particular hazard. To describe vulnerability, the number of people and the amount of property in jeopardy is determined, thus providing information that is useful in establishing what is and what is not vulnerable.
Each area has its own special "mix of factors" that must be analyzed for vulnerability. History may be helpful in making this determination.
Maximum threat is the rating for the "worst case" scenario of a hazard. To determine maximum threat, the worst event possible and the greatest impact of a hazard will be considered. Knowledge of the impact of a hazard's maximum threat upon the area raises awareness of the extreme preparedness needs for the protection of life and property. Maximum threat impact is expressed in terms of human casualties and property loss. In addition, secondary consequences are estimated whenever possible.
Probability is the likelihood that an event will occur. It can be expressed as the number of chances per year that an event of a specific intensity, or greater, will occur.
It is acknowledged that there are similarities when considering the history and probability criteria. However, because of the recent development of a number of hazards (such as nuclear reactor incidents and hazardous materials accidents) and the amount of historical information about them, two distinct criteria are used in this hazard analysis approach. The rationale behind this distinction is that the probability rating for newly developing hazards would be decreased by combining probability and history criteria since there is a lack of historical occurrence. In the same way, this methodology recognizes the importance of the historical criteria for those disaster level hazards that have been confronted and have occurred with a relatively high degree of frequency.
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