About Emergency Management

Defining Emergency Management

Comprehensive emergency management can be defined as the preparation for and the carrying out of all emergency functions necessary to mitigate, prepare for, respond to, and recover from emergencies and disasters caused by all hazards, whether natural, technological, or human caused. Comprehensive emergency management consists of four related components: all hazards, all phases, all impacts, and all stakeholders.

All Hazards

All hazards within a jurisdiction must be considered as part of a thorough risk assessment and prioritized on the basis of impact and likelihood of occurrence. Treating all hazards the same in terms of planning resource allocation ultimately leads to failure. There are similarities in how one reacts to all disasters. These event-specific actions form the basis for most emergency plans. However, there are also distinct differences between disaster agents that must be addressed in agent or hazard-specific plans and these can only be identified through the risk assessment process.

All Phases

The Comprehensive Emergency Management Model on which modern emergency management is based defines four phases of emergency management:
  • Mitigation - Activities designed to prevent or reduce losses from disaster (usually considered the initial phase of emergency management, although it may be a component of other phases)
  • Preparedness - Development of plans and capabilities for effective disaster response
  • Response- Immediate reaction to a disaster that may occur as the disaster is anticipated, as well as soon after it begins
  • Recovery - Activities that continue beyond the emergency period to restore critical community functions and manage re-construction
Detailed planning and execution is required for each phase. Further, phases often overlap as there is often no clearly defined boundary where one phase ends and another begins. Successful emergency management coordinates activities in all four phases.

All Impacts

Emergencies and disasters cut across a broad spectrum in terms of impact on infrastructure, human services, and the economy. Just as all hazards need to be considered in developing plans and protocols, all impacts or predictable consequences relating to those hazards must also be analyzed and addressed.

All Stakeholders

This component is closely related to the emergency management principles of coordination and collaboration. Effective emergency management requires close working relationships among all levels of government, the private sector, and the general public.