Emergencies of some kind or another occur every day within a municipality. The aim of emergency risk management is to promote public safety and reduce the impact of these emergencies.
Community Emergency Risk Assessment (CERA) process
The Community Emergency Risk Assessment (CERA) provides Emergency Management Planning Committees (EMPC) with a framework for considering and improving the safety and resilience of their community from hazards and emergencies.
The CERA approach aims to understand the likely impacts of a range of emergency scenarios upon community assets, values and functions. As such, CERA provides an opportunity for multiple community impacts and consequences to be considered enabling collaborative risk treatment plans and emergency preparedness measures to be described.
The CERA Tool provides a robust framework for a ‘community of interest’ to identify and prioritise those emergency risks that are likely to create most disruption to them. The assessment helps users to identify and describe hazards and assess impacts and consequences based upon the vulnerability or exposure of the community or its functions.
The outputs of the assessment process can be used to inform emergency management planning, introduce risk action plans and ensure that communities are aware of and better informed about hazards and the associated emergency risks that may affect them.
How does it work?
The CERA approach combines hazard information and intelligence from a number of sources in order to gain a clear understanding of the elements that define ‘risk’ within a specific area. These sources include:
- Existing ‘single hazard’ risk assessments, (e.g., the Victorian Fire Risk Register (VFRR), Integrated Fire Management Planning (IFMP) and Flood studies)
- New or existing community profile information, (e.g., Part 2 of Municipal Emergency Management Plans)
- Subject matter experts and local community representatives
Integral to the success of the process are the in-depth discussions that occur between experts, decision-makers and community representatives. The CERA meeting format is designed to promote a collaborative discussion between agencies, experts and community representatives on the ways in which various hazards may affect important assets, values and functions for a defined ‘community of interest’. By developing an understanding of the likely impacts and factors that underlie exposure and vulnerability, participants are better placed to describe within their Emergency Management Plan (EMP) how they will treat these risks or cope with impacts.
What are the steps in the CERA process?
The CERA process is designed to be undertaken over two facilitated sessions. This timing is dependent upon the complexity of each municipality, the capacity of the EMPC, and access to and availability of subject matter experts and community representatives. Some risk assessments may therefore require more than two days to complete and further sessions may need to be arranged.
In Session 1 a two-to-three hour workshop is convened with all Emergency Management Planning Committee (EMPC) members. These members identify the hazards that pose the most significant threat to their community, as well as identifying the assets, values and functions that are integral to the normal functioning of their community. Hazard experts and representatives of key community assets, values and functions are identified and then invited to take part in the risk assessment in Session 2.
In Session 2 a larger committee consisting of hazard experts and community representatives gathers for a second three-to-five hour workshop to understand and describe:
- The nature and behaviour of hazards that may impact upon their community
- The exposure and vulnerability of key community assets, values and functions to each hazard
The committee then goes on to identify strengths and weaknesses in existing planning and mitigation arrangements, as well as identifying the opportunities for improvement to prevention, control and mitigation measures. To finalise the CERA process SES staff will be able to support the committee in loading the data from the group discussions into an excel-based risk assessment tool that will calculate the levels of risk and create risk sheets (that can be exported) as well as heat maps for inclusion in Emergency Management Plans.
For further information please refer to the following resources or contact your local SES Regional Office. For contact information, please visit our Contact Us page.