Risk is an integral part of the dynamic in which first response organizations operate. A robust risk management process involves an evaluation of the organizations’ activities that expose stakeholders to potential loss. While all entities are mandated to engage in the management of the risk related to their operations, first response organizations exist to deal with the fall-out of unaddressed risk.
Risk assessment is an integral component of the work of each day in the first responder community. However, the importance of that focus justifies taking additional time to systematically reflect on the risks that define emergency first response. Such a process is a vital step toward improving the successful management of those risks and toward reducing the risks that threaten our communities.
A comprehensive risk assessment provides a sound strategic foundation for prioritizing the allocation of limited resources. It becomes an integral tool not only for emergency planning but also for supporting investment in the development and sustainment of the operational capabilities of emergency services. One of the key values of the REL is that it provides a methodology for improving the focus of risk reduction initiatives. REL is grounded in the critical link from effective risk assessment to the development of a -compelling business case to apply funding for risk reduction initiatives. A clear understanding of this link and consistent use of comprehensive risk management methodology will assist the Canadian first responder community and the larger communities they serve to allocate resources toward building targeted response capabilities.
The purpose of this Chapter is to encourage and enable Canadian first response organizations to reflect on their risk management processes, to revisit existing risk-assessment data and to guide additional risk assessments where necessary in order to reduce the risks that are identified within their communities. Further, it aims to assist first response organizations to use the data gained from the assessment of all risks to first identify and then to focus on realistically assessing CBRNE-related risk and to manage those risks in a fiscally efficient manner.
Fundamental to the development of the REL is a commitment to Canadian first responder organizations to enable improved planning in an environment where the variables change so rapidly. The discourse which follows outlines a research based look at risk management best practice in Canada with the aim of providing clear information but with the understanding that many communities have adopted a risk assessment methodology that is currently being used and has been deemed suitable for their unique operational realities. Other communities are struggling with how to best enact risk management processes. In the context of many users with varied needs, the following is presented to help inform your current risk management efforts.