NFPA Journal - May/June 2020 - 45

outbreak," said Chelsea Rubadou, a
community risk reduction strategist at
NFPA, in a recent NFPA Journal podcast on the COVID-19 response.
Risk assessments provide safety officials with demographic information
such as the age, race, and economic
status of residents, along with their
geographic distribution, a feature that
includes the locations of nursing homes
or assisted living facilities. (The New
York Times has reported that at least 20
percent of the coronavirus deaths in the
US have occurred among residents of
these facilities.) Bradshaw, the mayor of
Ketchum, said his community used this
kind of information when it enacted a
temporary construction ban during the
outbreak; a large pool of retirees and
older second-home owners in Blaine
County meant there were many people
vulnerable to COVID-19 complications.
"We introduced a number of measures
to protect these people, starting with
an emergency health order," Bradshaw
told NFPA Journal. "We added the
building ban because a lot of the construction workers come from outside
the county, and there are risks associated with that kind of exposure. We're
just starting to relax the ban, but we
still have a number of strict protocols
in place."

THE 'CULTURE OF
RESCUE'
Additionally, the demographic data
provided by a risk assessment can
be overlaid with economic and civic
data, such as whether the community
A passerby encounters COVID-19
graffiti on a street in Berlin.
GETTY IMAGES

is dominated by a single industry or
is home to a large number of college
students. Buildings can be catalogued
for easier identification of sites for temporary hospitals, health testing, and
other purposes. Existing threats can
also be factored in, such as whether the
community is near chemical processing
facilities or is prone to wildfires.
"The standard is broad on purpose,"
said Rubadou. "A lot of people have
requested a checklist or template to
follow for CRR and the community risk
assessment, but each community is so
unique that it would be really difficult
to provide a template broad enough to
cover all the threats faced by every community. A threat like a pandemic should
be considered, and probably will be considered, more often than it has been."
Other NFPA documents can help
communities manage crises as well.
NFPA 1600, Standard on Continuity,
Emergency, and Crisis Management,
is designed to help users evaluate and
prioritize their essential functions and
plan, as best they can, for possible
emergencies. The document, which
was recognized by the 9/11 Commission
as the country's national preparedness standard, is widely used by
private public organizations on a local,
regional, national, and global basis. The
standard has been adopted by the US
Department of Homeland Security as a
voluntary consensus standard for emergency preparedness. The principles
in NFPA 3000™ (PS), Standard for an
Active Shooter/Hostile Event Response
(ASHER) Program, can also be applied

broadly-utilizing what the standard
aptly refers to as a "whole community
approach"-to create an all-hazards
protocol that can address a range of
threats, including a pandemic.
As vital as community-level preparation will be to manage the next
emergency, experts say those efforts
will mean more if they're accompanied
by a greater sense of public responsibility. "It's fair to say we entered
this pandemic largely as a culture of
rescue," Karen Berard-Reed, an NFPA
community risk reduction strategist,
told the NFPA Journal podcast. "It's an
unintended consequence of something
that's going really well-we have this
wonderful system of first responders
ready to assist with virtually any emergency ... but it's also led to some apathy
on the part of the public when it comes
to prevention."
Ignoring prevention, or ceding the
responsibility to others, can result in
hazards growing out of control, BerardReed said, leading to unnecessary
injuries and deaths that afflict civilians
and responders alike. "We need to get
back to that place where people take
more responsibility for the prevention
of the issue in the first place-in [the
COVID-19] crisis, we now have this
exclamation point on the fact that
every single person plays a role in community health and safety. We truly have
this opportunity to shift from the culture of rescue to a culture of prevention
... when we eventually emerge from
this crisis, we might have a different
view of what our first responders are
there for, and [we can give] them more
of an opportunity to engage in the risk
reduction process rather than having to
focus so much energy on responding to
the needs of the community."
As they've done for some time now,
world health experts suggest there's
little time to waste. A glance at the
global outbreaks and advisories tracked
by the Centers for Disease Control in
late April seems to support that: measles in the US, yellow fever in Ethiopia,
Lassa fever in Nigeria, dengue fever
in Asia and the Pacific Islands. Not
the stuff of pandemics, perhaps, but
indicators that the global petri dish is
teeming, and primed for opportunity.
N F PA . O R G / J O U R N A L * NFPA JOURNAL

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NFPA Journal - May/June 2020

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