Phases of Emergency Management
Disaster can strike quickly and without warning. It can force you to evacuate your neighborhood or confine you to your home. What would you do if basic services (water, gas, electricity, or telephones) were cut off? Local officials and relief workers will be on the scene after a disaster, but they cannot reach everyone right away. Families can cope with a disaster by preparing in advance and working together as a team. Create your family’s disaster plan - knowing what to do is your best protection and your responsibility.
Legislation evolved with the introduction of the Stafford Act, which has been amended regularly and is the legislative backbone of the National Emergency Management System.
The Stafford Act created FEMA out of a practical necessity to strengthen overlapping strategies used in many different types of emergency events. The goal of founding FEMA was to create an environment that would manage all types of hazards and would encourage cooperation among and between agencies traditionally responding to all types of hazards. The philosophy that drives the agency is that there is a life cycle to emergency response consisting of four phases: mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery.
Mitigation efforts are attempts to prevent hazards from developing into disasters altogether or to reduce the effects of disasters. The mitigation phase differs from the other phases in that it focuses on long-term measures for reducing or eliminating risk. Some mitigation measures include building codes, zoning requirements, installation of shutters, etc.
Preparedness is a continuous cycle of planning, organizing, training, equipping, exercising, evaluation and improvement activities to ensure effective coordination and the enhancement of capabilities to prevent, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate the effects of natural disasters, acts of terrorism, and other man-made disasters. Emergency personnel are constantly reviewing and developing plans, holding drills and attending training, stockpiling, inventory, and maintaining disaster supplies and equipment in order to be ready when they are needed.
The response phase includes the mobilization of the necessary emergency services and first responders in the disaster area. They are actions carried out immediately before, during, and immediately after a hazard impact, saving lives, reducing economic losses, and alleviating suffering. Response actions may include setting up a command center, evacuating threatened populations, opening shelters and providing mass care, emergency rescue, medical care, and search and rescue.
Once the event has moved into the recovery stage, the immediate need is to reestablish the basic infrastructure and provide for the safety of residents. Secondarily, long-term recovery may take many months or even years before the community returns to its former level of normal operations.