Cultivating Mission Performance through Risk Management
Scientists predict that the next full-margin rupture of the Cascadia subduction zone will produce the worst natural disaster in the history of North America. With many experts suggesting we are overdue for the “big one,” it is critical for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to incorporate effective risk management methods within their mission-critical, national, and high profile programs to improve their ability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, and recover from the potentially devastating effects of this imminent threat.
The Cascadia subduction zone spans 700 miles from northern California up to the northern Vancouver Island of Canada. The impending rupture of this fault is projected to create an earthquake of very large magnitude along with violent tsunami waves, powerful landslides, fires, etc., resulting in significant damage and overwhelming destruction of critical infrastructure.
To prepare for a disaster of this size and influence, the following risk management approach should be implemented to foster communication, increase awareness and improve overall community readiness
1. Identify the key areas of risk
2. Analyze and assess the probability and impact of each risk area
3. Develop risk response strategies
4. Communicate and implement strategies
5. Monitor for continuous improvement
The cooperation of Federal, state, and local agencies within and across California, Washington and Oregon is essential to creating a whole community approach to preparedness through regular communication, education, drills, and information sharing. This integrated, risk-based approach helps to generate a culture of constant vigilance. It also increases their ability to identify different vulnerabilities and develop risk response strategies on a large scale.
Experts from different agencies and organizations bring forth their unique knowledge and skill sets to provide a complete understanding of the different risks and potential impacts. This improves understanding of key risk indicators, dependencies and correlations which can be tracked as preventative measures. Analytical techniques properly align resources with strategic risk mitigation tactics, which include plans to provide large numbers of displaced people with food, water, shelter and medical care.
A standardized approach to risk management reduces uncertainty and helps organizations avoid or minimize the potential consequences associated with realized risks. Proactive preparation increases awareness and allows current information to feed into real-time strategies for decision making and improvements. By embracing risk management techniques and incorporating them into standard operating procedures, we can avoid the greatest risk, failure.