Massachusetts Hazard Vulnerability Assessment

Dates: 2013-2014

State: Massachusetts

Client(s): Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH)

Service: Training & Technical Assistance

Technical Expertise: Emergency Preparedness and Response


Incidents such as the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic, Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy, and the 9/11 terrorist attacks underscore the importance of increasing community preparedness.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has identified the critical need for state and local public health departments to partner with key organizations across a variety of community sectors to prepare for incidents that may significantly impact public health, medical, and/or mental/behavioral systems and services. CDC developed 15 public health preparedness capability standards for states to use for public health preparedness planning. Within the CDC’s Public Health Preparedness Capabilities, Capability 1: Community Preparedness, defines the level of engagement for effective collaboration and coordination to include the active participation of community sector representatives in identifying hazards, vulnerabilities, and risks to serve as the foundation for developing local emergency preparedness, response, and recovery plans.

The purpose of the Massachusetts Hazard Vulnerability Assessment project was to assist the Massachusetts Emergency Planning Regions 1, 2, 5a, and 5b to implement a participatory, data-driven HVA process focusing on the public health, health care, and behavioral health systems. This HVA process was unique both in its focus on these systems, as well as in its use of data derived from historical experience, models, and research to quantify potential hazard impacts.

JSI assisted regional partners to identify the top risks based on the estimated severity and likelihood of a set of hazards. JSI then facilitated a preparedness assessment process using the CDC's Public Health Preparedness Capabilities, and the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response's (ASPR's) Healthcare Preparedness Capabilities. This work culminated in the identification of strategies to address vulnerabilities and increase regional preparedness.