Sample Exam Questions – Implementation, Part 3

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By Daryl Lee Spiewak, CEM, TEM, MEP, Lead Trainer for the CEM Commission, and Chair, IAEM-Global Communications Work Group

Our last CEM® Examination article (July 2016) continued our discussion on the topic area of Implementation with a focus on Prevention. This month we will continue our discussion of Implementation with a focus on Mitigation.

Prevention Definition

The 2013 edition of NFPA 1600 defines mitigation as, “Activities taken to reduce the impact from hazards.” This is different from the prevention activities discussed last month, which are designed “to avoid or stop an incident from occurring.”

In the United States, Presidential Policy Directive 8 (PPD-8), March 2011, defines mitigation as, “the capabilities necessary to reduce loss of life and property by lessening the impact of disasters”. While prevention is focused on avoiding, preventing, and stopping acts of terrorism, mitigation focus is on all hazards.

Mitigation Capabilities

PDD-8 continues its definition by listing some of the capabilities included in mitigation activities. These capabilities include, but are not limited to “community-wide risk reduction projects, resilience of critical infrastructure and key resource lifelines, risk reduction for specific vulnerabilities, and initiatives to reduce future risks after a disaster has occurred.”

Mitigation Strategy

Just as with prevention, the 2013 edition of NFPA 1600 requires a mitigation strategy too. It says, “The entity shall develop a strategy to limit or control the consequences, extent, or severity of an incident that cannot be prevented.” Based on the entity’s “hazard identification and risk assessment, an analysis of impact, program constraints, operational experience, and cost-benefit analysis,” the strategy “shall include interim and long-term actions to reduce vulnerabilities.”

Mitigation Strategy Development Techniques

The 2013 edition of NFPA 1600 does not mandate any specific techniques emergency managers must use to develop their mitigation strategy, nor does it offer any suggestions. For those we must refer to the FEMA Independent Study (IS) courses and other related documents.
The cost-benefit analysis described under this part of the standard is similar to the one described for the prevention strategies last month. It is a critical component of our mitigation action plans, but is only one of the considerations, not the main one. Other considerations may take priority instead depending upon applicable laws, regulations, and policies impacting the emergency management program. If interested, FEMA offers two Independent Study courses on conducting cost-benefit analyses. They are IS-276 Benefit-Cost Analysis (BCA) Fundamentals, and IS-277 Benefit-Cost Analysis (BCA) Entry Level. Know these procedures are not part of the certification examination.

FEMA IS Resources

While FEMA has an independent study (IS) course dealing specifically with prevention strategies, FEMA and offers many other supporting IS courses you may want to review for your own program development and implementation. They include:

  • IS-1.a Emergency Manager: An Orientation to the Position
  • IS-318 Mitigation Planning for Local and Tribal Communities
  • IS-319 Tornado Mitigation Basics for Mitigation Staff
  • IS-320 Wildfire Mitigation Basics for Mitigation Staff
  • IS-321 Hurricanes Mitigation Basics for Mitigation Staff
  • IS-322 Flood Mitigation Basics for Mitigation Staff
  • IS-323 Earthquake Mitigation Basics for Mitigation Staff
  • IS-324.a Community Hurricane Preparedness
  • IS-325 Earthquake Basics: Science, Risk, and Mitigation
  • IS-326 Community Tsunami Preparedness
  • IS-328 Plan Review for Local Mitigation Plans
  • IS-393.a Introduction to Hazard Mitigation
  • IS-910.a Emergency Management Preparedness Fundamentals

Essay Requirement

The application process for both the CEM® and the AEM® require the candidate to address mitigation as one of the required Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities (KSA) components for the emergency management essay. Many candidates forget to address mitigation too and usually have to revise and resubmit their essay because of it. Do not forget to address mitigation activities in your response to the stated problem scenario. Provide a short discussion of the mitigation strategy activities you would use (or did use) to solve your problem and achieve your objectives. If necessary, you should explain why mitigation activities do not (or did not) apply to your specific problem and objectives. This way you still demonstrate to the commissioners reviewing your application that you know what activities occur during the mitigation phase and will receive appropriate credit.

Practice Questions

For core examination purposes, candidates should be familiar with the dimensions (economic, health and social services, housing, infrastructure, and natural and cultural resources) of mitigation, what mitigation involves (Identifying threats/hazards faced by the community; understanding the risks associated with the threats/hazards; and avoiding or reducing risks to reduce long-term vulnerability) (all described in IS-1a and other hazard-specific IS courses). IS-318 covers material specific to the USA requirements under 44 Code of Federal Regulations.

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

1. Which of the following defines mitigation?

a. Activities designed for a community to adapt to changing conditions and to withstand and rapidly recover from disruption due to emergencies.
b. Activities designed to ensure the entity or jurisdiction is optimally prepared to prevent an imminent terrorist attack.
c. Activities that safeguard the jurisdiction against all types of threats and hazards, including acts of terrorism as well as manmade or natural disasters.
d. Activities to reduce or eliminate long-term risk to persons or property, or to lessen the actual or potential effects of an incident.

This question is asking you to define mitigation. The first response of adapting to changing conditions and to withstand and rapidly recover from disruption due to emergencies defines a resilient community. This will include all the activities under prevention, protection, and mitigation. The second response of preventing a terrorist attack defines prevention.

The third response of safeguarding against all hazards defines protection. The fourth response of reducing or eliminating risk and lessening the effects of an incident defines mitigation. Therefore, the correct response is d. See IS 1.a.

2. The emergency manager plays a unique role in helping to mitigate the community’s threats and hazards. Which of the following is a key responsibility?

a. Enforce zoning and building codes.
b. Increase awareness about the public’s role in mitigation.
c. Obtain insurance to reduce risk.
d. Uphold Federal regulations intended to reduce hazard losses and provide resources to achieve these goals.

In this question, we are asking you to recognize the role emergency managers play in community mitigation activities. The first response is to enforce codes. Emergency managers are not involved in enforcement as that is a law enforcement function. Therefore, response a. is incorrect. The second response is to increase public awareness about mitigation. This is a role emergency managers perform. The third response is to obtain insurance. While obtaining insurance is a great method of transferring risk and mitigating against the consequences of hazardous events, it is usually performed by the finance or risk management departments and not the emergency manager. Therefore, this is not an emergency manager’s role.

The fourth response is to uphold Federal regulations. While the emergency manager must follow Federal regulations, he or she does not uphold or enforce them. That is the role of Federal officers and regulators. Therefore, the only correct response is b. See IS 1.a.

When reading the questions and responses, be sure you understand exactly what the question is asking of you and read each response before selecting the correct one. Don’t get confused between mitigation and prevention strategies. Mitigation strategies reduce the effects of an incident without preventing the incident from occurring, while prevention strategies prevent an incident from occurring.

In the Next Issue

Next month we will discuss the Whole Community for emergency management in the United States before returning to our discussion of Implementation with a focus on Crisis Communications and Public Information in the following month. We also will analyze some practice exam questions.

As usual, please send any questions that 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, August 2016

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