Emergency Management is organized analysis, planning, decision-making and assignment of available resources to mitigate (lessen the effect of or prevent), prepare for, respond to, and recover from the effects of all hazards.

It is an integrated and comprehensive approach to the management of emergency programs and activities for all four emergency phases, for all types of emergencies and disasters, for all levels of government (local, state, and federal) and for the private sector.

The Four Phases of Emergency Management are:

  • MITIGATION – Activities which reduce or eliminate loss or life, injuries, and damage to property or the environment resulting from an emergency or disaster.
  • PREPAREDNESS – Actions taken to facilitate disaster response and recovery. These include developing and updating emergency operations plans, training response personnel, and maintaining emergency resources.
  • RESPONSE – Utilizing all systems, plans and resources available in the community to save lives, reduce damage to property and the environment, and to aid in recovery.
  • RECOVERY – Actions taken to return a community to pre-disaster or improved conditions.

Recovery is both a short-term and long-term process. In the short-term, recovery operations seek to restore vital services to the community and provide for the basic needs of the public. Long-term recovery focuses on restoring the community to its normal, or improved, state of affairs.

The recovery period is also an opportunity to institute mitigation measures to lessen the vulnerability of future disasters. The phases are cyclical – all activities and experiences lead back to the mitigation phase. We learn to prevent or lessen the impact of future emergencies by what we learn from past occurrences.

All-Hazards Approach – Comprehensive Emergency Management deals with all types of hazards. These include both natural (such as hurricanes and winter storms) as well as technological or man-made disasters (such as hazardous materials spills or terrorism incidents).