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It may seem very cliche to pick the first step, but honestly it is such an important foundational point for all that follows that it truly is the most important. This first step is Conduct a Community Risk Analysis. This is the detective portion of the process, that if not done well, will result in poor prevention of the incidents the plan is seeking to mitigate or target via the program. Another way to think of this step is to recognize that it is the one that prevents the implementation of a tidal wave awareness program in Colorado. That is a little tongue-in-cheek thing from me there, but the point I am seeking to make is that this is how we ensure that we do not put time, money, resources and effort into programs that are not going to do anything or would only do very little for the community we are serving. This first step is the process of identifying, gathering information about and measuring the risk of the problems specifically facing the community in question. It also helps to identify which of these problems is the largest and/or most common. It can help gather enough information to ensure that the steps that follow are the best efforts in the best direction and priority pathway. The sub steps involve figuring out what data will be looked at and considered to be a part of the research; what the profile of the problem(s) and community experiencing them consist of; creation of a specific statement that articulates the problem in a concise and clear manner for those helping with the next steps; prioritization of the issues and what order they should be worked on; and identifying specific areas or populations that require this kind of public fire education the soonest. (USFA, 2008)
United States Fire Administration (USFA), (June 2008) Public Fire Education Planning (Retrieved from https://www.usfa.fema.gov/downloads/pdf/publications/fa-219.pdf) FEMA
This weeks topic is interesting and excited. Personally, I feel as every step has its place and purpose and I must say that the first step, Conduct a community analysis, is the most important, at least to get a start. However, for this forum I am going to go with the final step, evaluate the results, as this is imperative to validate every other step is effective and that the initial analysis is being addressed properly. Without being able to affect change through analysis what good is developing a plan in the first place? Nearly every plan or strategy can use this model and oftentimes does without even thinking about it in detail.
While reading more in line with FEMA I noticed the statement “The primary goal of the evaluation process is to demonstrate that the risk reduction efforts are reaching target populations, have the planned impact, and are demonstrably reducing loss.” (FEMA). To me, this statement means a lot and without proof of change for the positive then efforts, money, resources, etc. may seem to be wasted. The article also talks about many “fears” of trying to evaluate the outcome of the reduction plan. Some of these steps include data analysis (many view that as mathematical problems), fear of finding shortfalls, and lack of knowledge on evaluation. The article also points out several support agencies that can help conduct data analysis or provide guidance.
I believe that with any good evaluation of a program and objective views can bring upon strong change for the positive. Some areas to pay attention to are on shortfalls, reviewing benchmarks to effect change, and sometimes altering processes to enhance the desired outcome is imperative to a strong program. Fear or avoidance of any element tends to undermine the reduction process and may hinder positive progress or eliminate it altogether. Do not avoid going back and assessing the program over and over again as this can cause reduction in the effectiveness of the program. Everything generally requires a periodic review and modification to meet the current needs/wants of a program.
FEMA. 2008. “Public Fire Education Planning. A Five Step Process” Accessed June 13, 2019. https://www.usfa.fema.gov/downloads/pdf/publications/fa-219.pdf