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Community Risk Assessment Tool Helps Coalition Building

In January 2012, the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) was managing major changes in the guidance for the distribution of Public Health Emergency Preparedness (PHEP) and Hospital Preparedness Program (HPP) funds. The Upper Midwest Preparedness and Emergency Response Learning Center (UMPERLC) was able to assist in that transition by partnering with IDPH to develop online tools for conducting community risk assessments, as required by the new funding guidance.

General Public Health Risk Assessment ToolIn addition to collaborating with subject matter experts at IDPH, UMPERLC staff consulted several existing Hazard Vulnerability Analysis (HVA) tools—primarily the Kaiser Permanente HVA and UCLA Hazards and Vulnerability Assessment. Based on these models, UMPERLC developed two tools specifically geared for local public health and healthcare organizations.

By spring of 2013, 53 Healthcare Risk Assessments and 92 Local Public Health Risk Assessments were completed in Iowa with these tools. In some cases, the process of conducting the risk assessment was a step to building the coalitions that are required by PHEP and HPP guidance. For example, when conducting their HVA, Kossuth County Public Health brought in external partners when gaps were identified. Kossuth County Public Health conducted their HVA at a meeting of the Kossuth Emergency Planning Team (KEPT), and worked on the process with its Advisory Board, which consists of local Emergency Management Agencies, Emergency Management Services, Board of Supervisors, Law Enforcement, Environmental Health, Hospital and Public Health. As they identified gaps, they brought in experts such as funeral home directors to address issues of mass casualties and electronic specialists to address some issues of communication.

Risk Assessment Tools training scenariosTo accompany the Risk Assessment tools, UMPERLC developed a scenario-based training called Community Partnering: A Risk Assessment and Emergency Operations Planning Scenario. The course provides guidance on fundamentals of community-based planning, from contributing to a risk assessment to developing emergency operations plans (EOP) and engaging the whole community in addressing all risks and hazards. The training, which takes about an hour to complete, is available on The Training Source learning management system:

General versions of the risk assessment tools are also available for Local Public Health ( and for Healthcare (