Los Angeles County Department of Public Health's Health Hazard Assessment: Putting the “Health” Into Hazard Assessment

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Abstract

A ll communities, explicitly or implicitly, assess and prepare for the natural and manmade hazards that they know could impact their community. The commonality of hazard-based threats in most all communities does not usually result in standard or evidence-based preparedness practice and outcomes across those communities. Without specific efforts to build a shared perspective and prioritization, “all-hazards” preparedness can result in a random hodgepodge of priorities and preparedness strategies, resulting in diminished emergency response capabilities. Traditional risk assessments, with a focus on physical infrastructure, do not present the potential health and medical impacts of specific hazards and threats. With the implementation of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's capability-based planning, there is broad recognition that a health-focused hazard assessment process—that engages the “Whole of Community”—is needed. Los Angeles County's Health Hazard Assessment and Prioritization tool provides a practical and innovative approach to enhance existing planning capacities. Successful utilization of this tool can provide a way for local and state health agencies and officials to more effectively identify the health consequences related to hazard-specific threats and risk, determine priorities, and develop improved and better coordinated agency planning, including community engagement in prioritization.

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