In 2018, Maine conducted a State Risk Assessment. The intent of this process was to provide emergency management planners a broad perspective on the hazards and threats that pose a risk to the state of Maine. Accordingly, this assessment takes an all-hazards approach to the process, profiling natural and technological hazards as well as adversarial threats. Hazards are natural or unintentional events that have a negative impact on people, property, and/or the environment. These include events that result from nature, such as severe weather, as well as accidents involving the built environment, such as dam failures. Threats are intentional, malevolent actions of humans to harm people, property, and/or the environment. These include physical attacks on people, such as active shooter events, as well as cyber-attacks on information technology infrastructure.
While the causes of emergencies can vary greatly, many of the effects do not. Planners can address common operational functions in their basic plans instead of having unique plans for every type of hazard or threat. For example, floods, wildfires, HAZMAT releases, and radiological dispersal devices may lead a jurisdiction to issue an evacuation order and open shelters. Even though each hazard’s characteristics (e.g., speed of onset, size of the affected area) are different, the general tasks for conducting an evacuation and shelter operations are the same. Planning for all threats and hazards ensures that, when addressing emergency functions, planners identify common tasks and those responsible for accomplishing the tasks. Planning is fundamentally a process to manage risk. Risk management is a process by which context is defined, risks are identified and assessed, and courses of action for managing those risks are analyzed, decided upon, and implemented, monitored, and evaluated. As part of the process, planning is a tool that allows for systematic risk management to reduce or eliminate risks in the future.
The 2018 assessment was an update to the assessment Maine Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) last performed in 2013. The selection of hazards and threats presented is derived from existing literature within the emergency management community, to include the 2018 State Hazard Mitigation Plan, 2018 State Threat Assessment, and the 2015 Commodity Flow Study Report. The methodology used in the risk assessment process is based on the Code of Federal Regulations, Emergency Management Accreditation Program Standards, and best practices in the field of risk assessment.
The results of the 2018 State of Maine Risk Assessment will be incorporated into Maine's capability assessment process – the state Threat and Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment (THIRA)/Stakeholder Preparedness Review (SPR). The risk assessment process will be formally undertaken every five years, while the capability assessment process is a requirement at the close of each year.
By better determining our risks, we can better assess our capabilities to ensure that we are up to the challenge should a major disaster occur in the state of Maine.