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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

5.4 Hazards Vulnerability Analysis

A Hazard Vulnerability Analysis (HVA) provides the Coalition with a common understanding about the hazard risks that it faces and helps to prioritize issues for the EMP to address.[14] In other words, a properly developed HVA provides the “needs assessment” for the EMP and guides its direction. The basic components of an HVA for healthcare organizations are well described elsewhere, but general steps related to Healthcare Coalitions are presented below.[15]

  • The first step in a comprehensive HVA is to identify and prioritize the likely hazards that the Coalition could face. These will often overlap with the hazards confronted by the Coalition member organizations and are typically identified using historical and current data from multiple sources.
  • Based on the list of hazards generated, the general vulnerabilities for Coalition member organizations and the specific vulnerabilities for the Coalition itself are identified.
  • The product of the likely hazards and associated vulnerabilities constitutes “risks” to the Coalition and its member organizations. These are then sorted and prioritized. Significant impact on personnel and mission critical elements contributes to the ranking of the risk for each hazard.
  • Steps are taken to prevent or reduce the risks (mitigation) or to address the consequences post-impact (preparedness). For example, a backup notification system can be developed (mitigation) or procedures established that will guide participants if the notification system fails (preparedness). This demonstrates the important link between the HVA process and other EMP activities.
  • The HVA process is iterative and should be reviewed on an annual basis or after major incidents.

Because the HVA is typically discussed within the context of one organization, the HVA for the Coalition is somewhat unique. Provided below are some considerations for the Coalition’s HVA:

  • While there will likely be significant overlap between the HVA for the Coalition and the HVA for an individual healthcare organization, these must be separate and distinct processes. A specific vulnerability may not exist across all Coalition member organizations; however, Coalition members will generally face many of the same hazards. The Healthcare Coalition EMC can conduct an HVA for the Coalition and each organization could use the findings to inform their respective HVA. A benefit of this approach is that it helps to satisfy certain standards, such as The Joint Commission criteria for coordinating HVA efforts with external partners.[16]
  • The Coalition may start by examining the HVAs at individual member organizations and its respective local jurisdiction (Tier 3) before conducting its own.
  • The external organizations listed in Section 5.3.3 should be given an opportunity to participate in and/or review the Coalition’s HVA efforts. They can provide important information related to hazards and vulnerabilities, as well as guidance on risk interventions. In addition, public sector organizations can factor these HVA results into their respective planning efforts.
  • The outputs of the Coalition HVA (hazards, vulnerabilities, risk interventions) should be used by the EMC to structure and prioritize its efforts. This can range from modifying the EOP to improving resource management (e.g., collective purchases).


  1. The definition of a Hazard Vulnerability Analysis is provided in Appendix B.
  2. Barbera JA, Macintyre AG, Shaw G, et al, Emergency Management Principles and Practices for Healthcare Systems. Department of Veterans Affairs, Veterans Health Administration (2004); Available at:
  3. The Joint Commission, Emergency Management Standards, Hospital Accreditation Program (2008). Accessed October 13, 2008 at:

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    • This page last reviewed: February 14, 2012