Emergency management is a framework for unifying and integrating community resources at all levels of government in order to reduce vulnerability to hazards and to cope with disasters.
There are four phases of emergency management:
Mitigation focuses on long-term measures for lessening or eliminating risk by preventing and eliminating hazards when possible, preventing hazards from developing into disasters, and reducing the ill effects of disasters when they do happen.
Preparedness is a continuous cycle of planning, organizing, training to the plan, equipping for the plan, and exercising the plan, followed by evaluation and revision of the plan to reflect lessons learned.
Response is the actual reaction to emergencies and disasters after the benefits of mitigation and preparedness have result in increased safety for responders and more rapid control of events. It involves mobilizing emergency services and first responders such as firefighters, police, and ambulance crews. These first responders may be supported by secondary emergency services such as specialist rescue teams.
Recovery involves restoring the affected area at least to its status before the event occurred. Recovery blends into mitigation by helping to ensure that future disasters are either avoided entirely or that their potential effects are lessened. Recovery efforts are made after the response phase has addressed immediate needs. Recovery may include rebuilding destroyed property, reemployment, and repair of damaged or destroyed infrastructure.
On the federal level, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) coordinates emergency management efforts. The Stafford Act and the National Response Framework outline the requirements and principles that guide the federal government in dealing with disasters and emergencies. One of FEMA’s major responsibilities is providing grants.
Both state offices and agencies and local units of government have specific emergency planning requirements. These requirements vary from state to state and from community to community.