Sample Certification Exam Questions – Planning, Part 1

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By Daryl Lee Spiewak, CEM, TEM, MEP, Lead Trainer for the CEM Commission

Last month we completed our discussion of the certification examination topic of Program Management with an emphasis on Records Management and Finance and Administration, followed by an analysis of a couple of example examination questions. This month we begin a new examination topic area — Planning — with a focus on Risk Assessment.

Risk and Risk Assessment

Risk is generally defined as the “potential (likelihood and consequence) for an unwanted outcome.” It is different than vulnerability, which is generally defined as the “susceptibility of an asset to physical injury, harm, damage, or economic loss.” Other terms you should familiarize yourself with when preparing for the examination include exposure, which “describes people, property, systems, or functions that could be lost to a hazard,” and probability, which is the “likelihood that a hazard will occur directed against a specific target.”

You will encounter these terms while conducting your risk assessment. For examination purposes, you will not have to conduct a risk assessment, but you will have to differentiate between the terms described above, as well as identify and analyze various hazards.

NFPA 1600 version 2013 states that a risk assessment serves two primary purposes. The first one is to develop information the entity uses “to prepare prevention and mitigation strategies.” The second purpose is to develop information that the entity uses “to prepare emergency operations/response, crisis communications, continuity, and recovery plans.” A related purpose of conducting a risk assessment is to “evaluate the adequacy of existing prevention and mitigation strategies.”

The major steps in the risk assessment process include: identifying hazards; monitoring those hazards; determining the likelihood of occurrence; determining asset exposure to risk; determining asset vulnerability to the identified hazards; quantifying potential impacts to assets; and periodic reassessment.

Hazards Analysis

Recall that hazards are now identified as:

  • Natural hazards (geologic, meteorologic, and biological);
  • Human-caused events (accidental and intentional); and
  • Technology-caused events (accidental and intentional).

You should be familiar with the various hazards types, as well as characteristics such as: Predictability & Frequency, Magnitude, Speed of Onset, and Cascading Effects. Know what they mean and what they are, for each type of hazard.

Sample Questions

Here are two core-type questions for our analysis in this article.

1. How is risk defined?
a. A predicted impact that a hazard would have on people, services, and specific facilities in a community.
b. A specific point of vulnerability.
c. The magnitude, duration, seasonal pattern, and speed of onset of a hazard.
d. Typical weather patterns for a community.

Analysis: Risk is generally defined as “exposure to danger, harm, or loss.” Therefore, the first response appears to be correct in that a predicted impact is an exposure. The second response indicates a specific thing that could be influenced or harmed by a hazard, and we know vulnerability is not risk, by definition.

The third response contains some factors used to describe hazards and not risk. The fourth response is used to describe some hazards that impact a community and not risk. Therefore, the correct response is the first one, a.

2. Frequency, magnitude and potential intensity, and probable spatial extent are all factors to consider when developing a(n):
a. Hazard profile.
b. Impact estimate.
c. Jurisdiction analysis.
d. Resource assessment.

Analysis: In this question, the factors listed all describe the characteristics of a hazard – how often it occurs, how big and strong it could be, and how large of a geographical area the hazard could affect. The first response then appears to answer the question. But before choosing it as the correct response, we should review the other three options to be sure.

The second response also appears to be correct, but further analysis indicates a description of the people, property, and environment that could suffer negative effects of a hazard. So, response two is incorrect. The third response is similar to the second one, in that it describes how the hazard affects the jurisdiction. The fourth response is an assessment of the resources available to the jurisdiction. It has nothing to do with the factors listed. Therefore, the only correct response is a, our first choice.

Next Month

Next month we will continue our discussion of Planning, with a focus on Resource Needs Assessment. We also will analyze some practice exam questions. Please send any questions you have about the examination or the certification process to me at info@iaem.com, and I will address them in future articles.

IAEM Bulletin, October 2015

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