Emergency management

Emergency management

Emergency management is the generic name of an interdisciplinary field dealing with the strategic organizational management processes used to protect critical assets of an organization from hazard risks that can cause events like disasters or catastrophes and to ensure the continuance of the organization within their planned lifetime.[1]



Emergencies, Disasters, and Catastrophes are not gradients, they are separate, distinct problems that require distinct strategies of response. Disasters are events distinguished from everyday emergencies by four factors: Organizations are forced into more and different kinds of interactions than normal; Organizations lose some of their normal autonomy; Performance standards change, and; More coordinated public sector/private sector relationships are required.[2]

Catastrophes are distinct from disasters in that: Most or all of the community built structure is heavily impacted; Local officials are unable to undertake their usual work roles; Most, if not all, of the everyday community functions are sharply and simultaneously interrupted, and; Help from nearby communities cannot be provided.[3]

Assets are categorized as either living things, non-living things, cultural or economic. Hazards are categorized by their cause, either natural or human-made. The entire strategic management process is divided into four fields to aid in identification of the processes. The four fields normally deal with risk reduction, preparing resources to respond to the hazard, responding to the actual damage caused by the hazard and limiting further damage (e.g., emergency evacuation, quarantine, mass decontamination, etc.), and returning as close as possible to the state before the hazard incident. The field occurs in both the public and private sector, sharing the same processes, but with different focuses.

Emergency Management is a strategic process, and not a tactical process, thus it usually resides at the Executive level in an organization. It normally has no direct power, but serves as an advisory or coordinating function to ensure that all parts of an organization are focused on the common goal. Effective Emergency Management relies on a thorough integration of emergency plans at all levels of the organization, and an understanding that the lowest levels of the organization are responsible for managing the emergency and getting additional resources and assistance from the upper levels.

The most senior person in the organization administering the program is normally called an Emergency Manager, or a derived form based upon the term used in the field (e.g. Business Continuity Manager).

Fields that are under this definition include:

Phases and professional activities

A graphic representation of the four phases in emergency management.

The nature of management depends on local economic and social conditions. Some disaster relief experts such as Fred Cuny have noted that in a sense the only real disasters are economic.[5] Experts, such as Cuny, have long noted that the cycle of Emergency Management must include long-term work on infrastructure, public awareness, and even human justice issues. The process of Emergency Management involves four phases: mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery.

Recently the Department of Homeland Security and FEMA have adopted the terms "resilience" and "prevention" as part of the paradigm of EM. The latter term was mandated by PKEMA 2006 as statute enacted in October 2006 and made effective March 31, 2007. The two terms definitions do not fit easily as separate phases. Prevention is 100% mitigation, by definition.[6] Resilience describes the goal of the four phases: an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change.[7]


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.[1] The implementation of mitigation strategies is a part of the recovery process if applied after a disaster occurs.[1]

Mitigation measures can be structural or non-structural. Structural measures use technological solutions like flood levees. Non-structural measures include legislation, land-use planning (e.g. the designation of non-essential land like parks to be used as flood zones), and insurance.[8]

Mitigation is the most cost-efficient method for reducing the effect of hazards although not always the most suitable. Mitigation includes providing regulations regarding evacuation, sanctions against those who refuse to obey the regulations (such as mandatory evacuations), and communication of risks to the public.[9] Some structural mitigation measures may harm the ecosystem.

A precursor to mitigation is the identification of risks. Physical risk assessment refers to identifying and evaluating hazards.[1] The hazard-specific risk (Rh) combines a hazard's probability and effects. The equation below states that the hazard multiplied by the populations’ vulnerability to that hazard produces a risk Catastrophe modeling. The higher the risk, the more urgent that the vulnerabilities to the hazard are targeted by mitigation and preparedness. If, however, there is no vulnerability then there will be no risk, e.g. an earthquake occurring in a desert where nobody lives.

\mathbf{R_h} = \mathbf{H} \times \mathbf{V_h} \,


Preparedness is how we change behavior to limit the impact of disaster events on people.[10] Preparedness is a continuous cycle of planning, managing, organizing, training, equipping, exercising, creating, evaluating, monitoring and improving activities to ensure effective coordination and the enhancement of capabilities of concerned organizations to prevent, protect against, respond to, recover from, create resources and mitigate the effects of natural disasters, acts of terrorism, and other man-made disasters.[11]

In the preparedness phase, emergency managers develop plans of action carefully to manage and counter their risks and take action to build the necessary capabilities needed to implement such plans. Common preparedness measures include:

Another aspect of preparedness is casualty prediction, the study of how many deaths or injuries to expect for a given kind of event. This gives planners an idea of what resources need to be in place to respond to a particular kind of event.

Emergency Managers in the planning phase should be flexible, and all encompassing – carefully recognizing the risks and exposures of their respective regions and employing unconventional, and atypical means of support. Depending on the region – municipal, or private sector emergency services can rapidly be depleted and heavily taxed. Non-governmental organizations that offer desired resources, i.e., transportation of displaced home-owners to be conducted by local school district buses, evacuation of flood victims to be performed by mutual aide agreements between fire departments and rescue squads, should be identified early in planning stages, and practiced with regularity.


The response phase includes the mobilization of the necessary emergency services and first responders in the disaster area. This is likely to include a first wave of core emergency services, such as firefighters, police and ambulance crews. When conducted as a military operation, it is termed Disaster Relief Operation (DRO) and can be a follow-up to a Non-combatant evacuation operation (NEO). They may be supported by a number of secondary emergency services, such as specialist rescue teams.

A well rehearsed emergency plan developed as part of the preparedness phase enables efficient coordination of rescue. Where required, search and rescue efforts commence at an early stage. Depending on injuries sustained by the victim, outside temperature, and victim access to air and water, the vast majority of those affected by a disaster will die within 72 hours after impact.[13]

A U.S. Coast Guardsman searches for survivors in New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
LA County search and rescue team pulls a Haitian woman from earthquake debris after the 2010 Haiti earthquake.

Organizational response to any significant disaster – natural or terrorist-borne – is based on existing emergency management organizational systems and processes: the Federal Response Plan (FRP) and the Incident Command System (ICS). These systems are solidified through the principles of Unified Command (UC) and Mutual Aid (MA)

There is a need for both discipline (structure, doctrine, process) and agility (creativity, improvisation, adaptability) in responding to a disaster.[14] There is also the need to onboard and build an effective leadership team quickly to coordinate and manage efforts as they grow beyond first responders. The leader and team must formulate and implement a disciplined, iterative set of response plans, allowing initial coordinated responses that are vaguely right, adapting to new information and changes in circumstances as they arise.[15]


The aim of the recovery phase is to restore the affected area to its previous state. It differs from the response phase in its focus; recovery efforts are concerned with issues and decisions that must be made after immediate needs are addressed.[1] Recovery efforts are primarily concerned with actions that involve rebuilding destroyed property, re-employment, and the repair of other essential infrastructure.[1]

Efforts should be made to "build back better", aiming to reduce the pre-disaster risks inherent in the community and infrastructure.[16] An important aspect of effective recovery efforts is taking advantage of a ‘window of opportunity’[17] for the implementation of mitigative measures that might otherwise be unpopular. Citizens of the affected area are more likely to accept more mitigative changes when a recent disaster is in fresh memory.

In the United States, the National Response Plan dictates how the resources provided by the Homeland Security Act of 2002 will be used in recovery efforts.[1] It is the Federal government that often provides the most technical and financial assistance for recovery efforts in the United States.[1]

Phases and personal activities


Personal mitigation is mainly about knowing and avoiding unnecessary risks. This includes an assessment of possible risks to personal/family health and to personal property.

One example of mitigation would be to avoid buying property that is exposed to hazards or waste, e.g., in a flood plain, in areas of subsidence or landslides. Home owners may not be aware of a property being exposed to a hazard until it strikes. However, specialists can be hired to conduct risk identification and assessment surveys. Purchase of insurance covering the most prominent identified risks is a common measure.

Personal structural mitigation in earthquake prone areas includes installation of an Earthquake Valve to instantly shut off the natural gas supply to a property, seismic retrofits of property and the securing of items inside a building to enhance household seismic safety. The latter may include the mounting of furniture, refrigerators, water heaters and breakables to the walls, and the addition of cabinet latches. In flood prone areas houses can be built on poles/stilts, as in much of southern Asia. In areas prone to prolonged electricity black-outs installation of a generator would be an example of an optimal structural mitigation measure. The construction of storm cellars and fallout shelters are further examples of personal mitigative actions.

Mitigation involves Structural and Non-structural measures taken to limit the impact of disasters.

Structural Mitigation:-

This involves proper layout of building, particularly to make it resistant to disasters.

Non Structural Mitigation:-

This involves measures taken other than improving the structure of building.


Airport emergency preparedness exercise.

Personal preparedness focuses on preparing equipment and procedures for use when a disaster occurs, i.e., planning. Preparedness measures can take many forms including the construction of shelters, installation of warning devices, creation of back-up life-line services (e.g., power, water, sewage), and rehearsing evacuation plans.

Two simple measures can help prepare the individual for sitting out the event or evacuating, as necessary. For evacuation, a disaster supplies kit may be prepared and for sheltering purposes a stockpile of supplies may be created. The preparation of a survival kit such as a "72-hour kit", is often advocated by authorities. These kits may include food, medicine, flashlights, candles and money. Also, putting valuable items in safe area is also recommended.


The response phase of an emergency may commence with search and rescue but in all cases the focus will quickly turn to fulfilling the basic humanitarian needs of the affected population. This assistance may be provided by national or international agencies and organisations. Effective coordination of disaster assistance is often crucial, particularly when many organizations respond and local emergency management agency (LEMA) capacity has been exceeded by the demand or diminished by the disaster itself.

On a personal level the response can take the shape either of a shelter in place or an evacuation. In a shelter-in-place scenario, a family would be prepared to fend for themselves in their home for many days without any form of outside support. In an evacuation, a family leaves the area by automobile or other mode of transportation, taking with them the maximum amount of supplies they can carry, possibly including a tent for shelter. If mechanical transportation is not available, evacuation on foot would ideally include carrying at least three days of supplies and rain-tight bedding, a tarpaulin and a bedroll of blankets being the minimum.


The recovery phase starts after the immediate threat to human life has subsided. During reconstruction it is recommended to consider the location or construction material of the property.

The most extreme home confinement scenarios include war, famine and severe epidemics and may last a year or more. Then recovery will take place inside the home. Planners for these events usually buy bulk foods and appropriate storage and preparation equipment, and eat the food as part of normal life. A simple balanced diet can be constructed from vitamin pills, whole-meal wheat, beans, dried milk, corn, and cooking oil.[18] One should add vegetables, fruits, spices and meats, both prepared and fresh-gardened, when possible.

As a profession

Emergency managers are trained in a wide variety of disciplines that support them throughout the emergency life-cycle. Professional emergency managers can focus on government and community preparedness (Continuity of Operations/Continuity of Government Planning), or private business preparedness (Business Continuity Management Planning). Training is provided by local, state, federal and private organizations and ranges from public information and media relations to high-level incident command and tactical skills such as studying a terrorist bombing site or controlling an emergency scene.

In the past, the field of emergency management has been populated mostly by people with a military or first responder background. Currently, the population in the field has become more diverse, with many experts coming from a variety of backgrounds without military or first responder history. Educational opportunities are increasing for those seeking undergraduate and graduate degrees in emergency management or a related field. There are over 180 schools in the US with emergency management-related programs, but only one doctoral program specifically in emergency management.[19]

Professional certifications such as Certified Emergency Manager (CEM)[20] and Certified Business Continuity Professional (CBCP) are becoming more common as the need for high professional standards is recognized by the emergency management community, especially in the United States.

Principles of Emergency Management

In 2007, Dr. Wayne Blanchard of FEMA’s Emergency Management Higher Education Project, at the direction of Dr. Cortez Lawrence, Superintendent of FEMA’s Emergency Management Institute, convened a working group of emergency management practitioners and academics to consider principles of emergency management. This project was prompted by the realization that while numerous books, articles and papers referred to “principles of emergency management,” nowhere in the vast array of literature on the subject was there an agreed-upon definition of what these principles were. The group agreed on eight principles that will be used to guide the development of a doctrine of emergency management. The summary provided below lists these eight principles and provides a brief description of each.

Principles: Emergency management must be:

  1. Comprehensive – emergency managers consider and take into account all hazards, all phases, all stakeholders and all impacts relevant to disasters.
  2. Progressive – emergency managers anticipate future disasters and take preventive and preparatory measures to build disaster-resistant and disaster-resilient communities.
  3. Risk-driven – emergency managers use sound risk management principles (hazard identification, risk analysis, and impact analysis) in assigning priorities and resources.
  4. Integrated – emergency managers ensure unity of effort among all levels of government and all elements of a community.
  5. Collaborative – emergency managers create and sustain broad and sincere relationships among individuals and organizations to encourage trust, advocate a team atmosphere, build consensus, and facilitate communication.
  6. Coordinated – emergency managers synchronize the activities of all relevant stakeholders to achieve a common purpose.
  7. Flexible – emergency managers use creative and innovative approaches in solving disaster challenges.
  8. Professional – emergency managers value a science and knowledge-based approach; based on education, training, experience, ethical practice, public stewardship and continuous improvement.

A fuller description of these principles can be found at Principles of Emergency Management


In recent years the continuity feature of emergency management has resulted in a new concept, Emergency Management Information Systems (EMIS). For continuity and interoperability between emergency management stakeholders, EMIS supports the emergency management process by providing an infrastructure that integrates emergency plans at all levels of government and non-government involvement and by utilizing the management of all related resources (including human and other resources) for all four phases of emergencies. In the healthcare field, hospitals utilize HICS (Hospital Incident Command System) which provides structure and organization in a clearly defined chain of command with set responsibilities for each division.[citation needed]

Within other professions

Practitioners in emergency management (disaster preparedness) come from an increasing variety of backgrounds as the field matures. Professionals from memory institutions (e.g., museums, historical societies, libraries, and archives) are dedicated to preserving cultural heritage—objects and records contained in their collections. This has been an increasingly major component within these field as a result of the heightened awareness following the September 11 attacks in 2001, the hurricanes in 2005, and the collapse of the Cologne Archives.

To increase the opportunity for a successful recovery of valuable records, a well-established and thoroughly tested plan must be developed. This plan must not be overly complex, but rather emphasize simplicity in order to aid in response and recovery. As an example of the simplicity, employees should perform similar tasks in the response and recovery phase that they perform under normal conditions. It should also include mitigation strategies such as the installation of sprinklers within the institution. This task requires the cooperation of a well-organized committee led by an experienced chairperson.[21] Professional associations schedule regular workshops and hold focus sessions at annual conferences to keep individuals up to date with tools and resources in practice in order to minimize risk and maximize recovery.


The joint efforts of professional associations and cultural heritage institutions have resulted in the development of a variety of different tools to assist professionals in preparing disaster and recovery plans. In many cases, these tools are made available to external users. Also frequently available on websites are plan templates created by existing organizations, which may be helpful to any committee or group preparing a disaster plan or updating an existing plan. While each organization will need to formulate plans and tools which meet their own specific needs, there are some examples of such tools that might represent useful starting points in the planning process. These have been included in the External Links section.

In 2009, the US Agency for International Development created a web-based tool for estimating populations impacted by disasters. Called Population Explorer[22] the tool uses Landscan population data, developed by Oak Ridge National Laboratory, to distribute population at a resolution 1 km2 for all countries in the world. Used by USAID's FEWS NET Project to estimate populations vulnerable and or impacted by food insecurity, Population Explorer is gaining wide use in a range of emergency analysis and response actions, including estimating populations impacted by floods in Central America and a Pacific Ocean Tsunami event in 2009.

In 2007, a checklist for veterinarians pondering participation in emergency response was published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, it had two sections of questions for a professional to ask themselves before assisting with an emergency:

Absolute requirements for participation:

  • Have I chosen to participate?
  • Have I taken ICS training?
  • Have I taken other required background courses?
  • Have I made arrangements with my practice to deploy?
  • Have I made arrangements with my family?

Incident Participation:

  • Have I been invited to participate?
  • Are my skill sets a match for the mission?
  • Can I access just-in-time training to refresh skills or acquire needed new skills?
  • Is this a self-support mission?
  • Do I have supplies needed for three to five days of self support?

While written for veterinarians, this checklist is applicable for any professional to consider before assisting with an emergency.[23]

International organizations

International Association of Emergency Managers

The International Association of Emergency Managers (IAEM) is a non-profit educational organization dedicated to promoting the goals of saving lives and protecting property during emergencies and disasters. The mission of IAEM is to serve its members by providing information, networking and professional opportunities, and to advance the emergency management profession.

It currently has seven Councils around the World: Asia,[24] Canada,[25] Europa,[26] International,[27] Oceania,[28] Student[29] and USA.[30]

The Air Force Emergency Management Association (www.af-em.org, www.3e9x1.com, and www.afema.org), affiliated by membership with the IAEM, provides emergency management information and networking for US Air Force Emergency Managers.

Red Cross/Red Crescent

National Red Cross/Red Crescent societies often have pivotal roles in responding to emergencies. Additionally, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC, or "The Federation") may deploy assessment teams, e.g.[31] Field Assessment and Coordination Team – (FACT) to the affected country if requested by the national Red Cross or Red Crescent Society. After having assessed the needs Emergency Response Units (ERUs)[32] may be deployed to the affected country or region. They are specialized in the response component of the emergency management framework.

United Nations

Within the United Nations system responsibility for emergency response rests with the Resident Coordinator within the affected country. However, in practice international response will be coordinated, if requested by the affected country’s government, by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN-OCHA), by deploying a UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) team.

World Bank

Since 1980, the World Bank has approved more than 500 operations related to disaster management, amounting to more than US$40 billion. These include post-disaster reconstruction projects, as well as projects with components aimed at preventing and mitigating disaster impacts, in countries such as Argentina, Bangladesh, Colombia, Haiti, India, Mexico, Turkey and Vietnam to name only a few.[33]

Common areas of focus for prevention and mitigation projects include forest fire prevention measures, such as early warning measures and education campaigns to discourage farmers from slash and burn agriculture that ignites forest fires; early-warning systems for hurricanes; flood prevention mechanisms, ranging from shore protection and terracing in rural areas to adaptation of production; and earthquake-prone construction.[34]

In a joint venture with Columbia University under the umbrella of the ProVention Consortium the World Bank has established a Global Risk Analysis of Natural Disaster Hotspots.[35]

In June 2006, the World Bank established the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR), a longer term partnership with other aid donors to reduce disaster losses by mainstreaming disaster risk reduction in development, in support of the Hyogo Framework of Action. The facility helps developing countries fund development projects and programs that enhance local capacities for disaster prevention and emergency preparedness.[36]

European Union

Since 2001, the EU adopted Community Mechanism for Civil Protection which started to play a significant role on the global scene. Mechanism's main role is to facilitate co-operation in civil protection assistance interventions in the event of major emergencies which may require urgent response actions. This applies also to situations where there may be an imminent threat of such major emergencies.

The heart of the Mechanism is the Monitoring and Information Centre. It is part of Directorate-General for Humanitarian Aid & Civil Protection of the European Commission and accessible 24 hours a day. It gives countries access to a platform, to a one-stop-shop of civil protection means available amongst the all the participating states. Any country inside or outside the Union affected by a major disaster can make an appeal for assistance through the MIC. It acts as a communication hub at headquarters level between participating states, the affected country and despatched field experts. It also provides useful and updated information on the actual status of an ongoing emergency.[37]

International Recovery Platform

The International Recovery Platform (IRP) was conceived at the World Conference on Disaster Reduction (WCDR) in Kobe, Hyogo, Japan in January 2005. As a thematic platform of the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR) system, IRP is a key pillar for the implementation of the Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA) 2005–2015: Building the Resilience of Nations and Communities to Disasters, a global plan for disaster risk reduction for the decade adopted by 168 governments at the WCDR.

The key role of IRP is to identify gaps and constraints experienced in post disaster recovery and to serve as a catalyst for the development of tools, resources, and capacity for resilient recovery. IRP aims to be an international source of knowledge on good recovery practice.[38]

National organizations


Natural disasters are part of life in Australia. Drought occurs on average every 3 out of 10 years and associated heatwaves have killed more Australians than any other type of natural disaster in the 20th century. Flooding is historically the most costly disaster with average losses estimated at $400 Million a year. It’s worth noting that the flood of 1990 covered an area larger than Germany.[39]

Fortunately, Australia is a resilient nation with all levels of government as well as business and community based Non Government Organisations (NGO’s) playing a role in the development of safer communities. This wasn’t always the case.


Prior to the late 1930s disaster affected communities made do as best they could but in 1938 Australia followed the United Kingdom in establishing an Air Raid Precautions (ARP) Organisation. This was done in response to Giulio Douhet’s theories on aerial warfare that “the bombers will always get through”.

ARP duties included policing blackouts, fire guard messengers, emergency first response until relieved by the emergency and rescue services, as they were trained in basic fire fighting and first aid. They also helped bombed out house holders and assisted the police with crowd control. The Federal Government held the view that the Constitution of Australia gave it the authority to wage war in defence of the nation but the responsibility for the civil protection measures in time of war belonged to its constituent states.

After the Second World War the ARP was substantially reduced but by 1948 public protection issues had again reappeared, centred on the Cold War and the threat posed by nuclear weapons. By 1954 the ARP was disbanded and the State, Territory and Federal Governments agreed to a new rejuvenated “Civil Defence” organisation, with the Federal government providing a supporting role.

During the 50’s and 60’s the Australian community experienced a number of natural disasters and manmade crises. As a public safety asset, these state based Civil Defence organisations were regularly but not always called upon to assist. This changed on 7 February 1967 when the Black Tuesday bushfires swept through the City of Hobart with devastating consequences. The Civil Defence teams had been called out and responded well. The 1967 Tasmanian fires were a seminal point in the development of structured emergency management in Australia. During the early 1970s each state progressively remodelled their Civil Defence organisations to realign their focus away from the protection of the community in wartime to protection of the community in times of disaster. This transformation was also reflected in a name change from Civil Defence to State Emergency Service (SES). In 1974, the Federal Government established the Natural Disaster Organisation (NDO) within the Department of Defence. This was a support organisation only able to provide a coordination and training role. It did not control the state organisations, manage the response or own the resources required to respond effectively to a crisis.

In January 1993 the NDO was relaunched as Emergency Management Australia (EMA). To recognise the civil, community protection basis it was also transferred from the Department of Defence to the Attorney General’s Department.[40]


The EMA and the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) are not equivalent organisations although they do share a common purpose and similar responsibilities. EMA is the peak body charged with reducing the impact of natural and non-natural disasters in Australia. These are defined as;[39]


1. Meteorological Drought, heatwaves, bushfires,storms, cyclones and tornadoes.

2. Geological Earthquake, landslides and volcanoes.

3. Biological Human diseases pandemics,vermin, insect and animal plagues exotic animal diseases foot and mouth disease, anthrax, food crop diseases.

4. Extraterrestrial Asteroids and meteorites.

Non – Natural

1. Human caused Major crime, terrorism, error, riot crowd crushes, shooting massacres.

2. Technological Transport, mining, hazardous material, explosions, urban fire,bridge collapse, dam failure, nuclear accidents, and space junk impact.

In 1995 AS NZS 4360:1995, a standard on risk management was produced (since replaced by AS NZS 31000: 2009). The following year EMA recommended to the State Governments that risk management principles now be applied to natural emergency management principles and practises. EMA maintains national level disaster plans for Australia and the South West Pacific but with its limited authority, still only enhances the capabilities of the States and Territories through support, coordination, training and the provision of extra resources when requested. This role has recently been expanded to address the risk of terrorism, climate change, pandemics and the increasing need to provide international crisis assistance. The latter is co-opted through AusAID which is part of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Currently,EMA consists of 4 branches as follows;

1. Security Coordination Branch

2. Crisis Coordination Branch

3. Crisis Support Branch

4. Natural Disaster Recovery Program Branch.

States and Territories

EMA operates within a climate of cooperative and constructive dialogue with the States and Territories who operate their own Disaster Acts. There is no federal emergency management legislation. The State and Territory Disaster Acts are administered in most cases by their individual Ministers for Emergency Services who control the peak government agency charged with emergency management at State or Territory level.[41] As each State faces different risks (i.e. fires in the south and floods in the north) their crisis response and management arrangements contain subtle differences. In Queensland, the state is divided into 23 District Disaster Management Groups (DDMG) who liaise with EMQ. Its membership is made up of District Police Commanders,regional government departments,government owned corporations, and NGO's. It offers a middle management interface by providing State government assistance, when requested by Local Disaster Management Groups (LDMG).[42]

Local Government

A fundamental concept in Australia’s emergency management philosophy is sustainability and resilience at a local level. In the state of Queensland, each local Shire, Town, or City Council fund their own community based, volunteer staffed, SES units that report to the peak body which is Emergency Management Queensland (EMQ). There are 73 units in total and each is made up of a single or multiple sub groups, depending on the size of the municipal authority. At this level, LDMG's are established and chaired by the Mayor or other senior elected member of the council.[43]

State Emergency Service

There are a total of 339 SES groups in Queensland. Each group is managed by a Group Leader, qualified in emergency management and its volunteer members are equipped, uniformed, trained and lead to a common standard recommended by EMA and enforced by the authority of EMQ. These groups maintain interoperability with each other and interstate SES groups.

Concepts and Principles

Australia’s emergency management processes embrace the concept of the prepared community. This is achieved through the application of the following;

1. The Australasian Inter-Service Incident Management System (AIIMS.) This is an incident command system, that is robust, scalable and applicable to all manner of crises. The successful management of disasters is achieved by having various divisions (Incident Controller, Logistics, Operations, Planning, Intelligence and Public Information) with appointed leaders responsible for handling specific aspects associated with the crises, reporting to a single Incident C ontroller. This system may be used for the effective coordination of resources in response to any incident or event.

2. Comprehensive Approach. This includes the emergency management phases of Preparation, Prevention, Response and Recovery (PPRR). These are not distinct linear segments, independent of each other but can overlap and run concurrently. It embraces the view that a prepared community is a safer community.

3. All Hazards Approach. This describes arrangements managing the wide range of possible outcomes of crises, as many risks cause similar outcomes that require similar responses.

4. Integrated or All Agencies Approach. At a local community level this includes involvement of government agencies such as the Department of Communities, Bureau of Meteorology, local councils, emergency services such as police, fire, ambulance and SES, as well as NGO’s such as community groups including local church and religious organisations and school parent and citizen committees, volunteer service organisations and media groups, particularly local radio. It embraces the view that working together, informed, alert, active citizens can do much to help themselves and their community.

5. The Bottom Up Approach. This firmly places the leadership of the emergency management processes in the hands of the controller, on the ground, confronting the disaster.[44]


Disasters are just as destructive to business as they are to communities. The recommended structure for an emergency control organisation in a workplace is laid down in AS NZS 3745:2010 Planning for Emergencies in Facilities. While only a guide, this document is reinforced by Workplace Health and Safety Legislation.[45] This places the responsibility of the person in charge of a workplace to ensure the safety of everyone in the workplace. In the States and Territories this is reinforced by further statute and common law. In Queensland, the Queensland Fire and Rescue Service undertake random but regular audits of workplaces to ensure compliance. In addition, well managed businesses should maintain and test their own business continuity plans in accordance with AS/NZS 5050:2010 - Business Continuity - managing Disruption Related Risk. Again this document is only a guide but this work should come under governance as it enhances an organisation’s resilience.

Understanding the Risk

In 2009, The Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters reported that Australia came in at 10th place on the list of countries with the highest number of reported natural disasters during that year.[46] With this understanding of the risk it confronts, Australia maintains a state of preparedness and is constantly advancing its emergency management processes through the resilience improvement cycle.[47]


Public Safety Canada is Canada’s national emergency management agency. Each province is required to have legislation in place for dealing with emergencies, as well as establish their own emergency management agencies, typically called an "Emergency Measures Organization" (EMO), which functions as the primary liaison with the municipal and federal level.

Public Safety Canada coordinates and supports the efforts of federal organizations ensuring national security and the safety of Canadians. They also work with other levels of government, first responders, community groups, the private sector (operators of critical infrastructure) and other nations.

Public Safety Canada’s work is based on a wide range of policies and legislation through the Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Act which defines the powers, duties and functions of PS are outlined. Other acts are specific to fields such as corrections, emergency management, law enforcement, and national security.


In Germany the Federal Government controls the German Katastrophenschutz (disaster relief) and Zivilschutz (civil protection) programs. The local units of German fire department and the Technisches Hilfswerk (Federal Agency for Technical Relief, THW) are part of these programs. The German Armed Forces (Bundeswehr), the German Federal Police and the 16 state police forces (Länderpolizei) all have been deployed for disaster relief operations.

Besides the German Red Cross[citation needed], humanitarian help is dispensed by the Johanniter-Unfallhilfe,[citation needed] the German equivalent of the St. John Ambulance, the Malteser-Hilfsdienst,[citation needed] the Arbeiter-Samariter-Bund,[citation needed] and other private Organization, to cite the largest relief organisation that are equipped for large-scale emergencies. As of 2006, there is a joint course at the University of Bonn leading to the degree "Master in Disaster Prevention and Risk Governance"[48]


The role of emergency management in India falls to National Disaster Management Authority of India, a government agency subordinate to the Ministry of Home Affairs. In recent years there has been a shift in emphasis from response and recovery to strategic risk management and reduction, and from a government-centered approach to decentralized community participation. The Ministry of Science and Technology.headed by Dr Karan Rawat, supports an internal agency that facilitates research by bringing the academic knowledge and expertise of earth scientists to emergency management.

A group representing a public/private partnership has recently been formed by the Government of India. It is funded primarily by a large India-based computer company and aimed at improving the general response of communities to emergencies, in addition to those incidents which might be described as disasters. Some of the groups' early efforts involve the provision of emergency management training for first responders (a first in India), the creation of a single emergency telephone number, and the establishment of standards for EMS staff, equipment, and training. It operates in three states, though efforts are being made in making this a nation-wide effective group.

The Netherlands

In the Netherlands the Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations is responsible for emergency preparedness en emergency management on national level and operates a national crisis centre (NCC). The country is divided in 25 safety regions (veiligheidsregio). Each safety region is covered by three services: police, fire and ambulance. All regions operate according to the Coordinated Regional Incident Management system. Other services such as the Ministry of Defence, water board(s), Rijkswaterstaat etc. can have an active role in the emergency management process.

New Zealand

In New Zealand, responsibility for emergency management moves from local to national depending on the nature of the emergency or risk reduction programme. A severe storm may be manageable within a particular area, whereas a national public education campaign will be directed by central government. Within each region, local governments are unified into 16 Civil Defence Emergency Management Groups (CDEMGs).

Every CDEMG is responsible for ensuring that local emergency management is robust as possible. As local arrangements are overwhelmed by an emergency, pre-existing mutual-support arrangements are activated. As warranted, central government has the authority to coordinate the response through the National Crisis Management Centre (NCMC), operated by the Ministry of Civil Defence & Emergency Management (MCDEM). These structures are defined by regulation,[49] and best explained in The Guide to the National Civil Defence Emergency Management Plan 2006, roughly equivalent to the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency's National Response Framework.


New Zealand uses unique terminology for emergency management to the rest of the English-speaking world.

4Rs is a term used to describe the emergency management cycle locally. In New Zealand the four phases are known as:[50]
  • Reduction = Mitigation
  • Readiness = Preparedness
  • Response
  • Recovery
Emergency management is rarely used locally; many government publications retain usage of the term civil defence.[51] For example, the Minister of Civil Defence is responsible for central government's emergency management agency, MCDEM.
Civil Defence Emergency Management is a term in its own right. Often abbreviated as CDEM, it is defined by statute as the application of knowledge to prevent harm from disasters.[52]
Disaster very rarely appears in official publications. In a New Zealand context, the terms emergency and incident usually appear when speaking about disasters in general.[53] When describing an emergency that has had a response from the authorities, the term event is also used. For example, publications refer to the “Canterbury Snow Event 2002”[54]


In Russia the Ministry of Emergency Situations (EMERCOM) is engaged in fire fighting, Civil Defense, Search and Rescue, including rescue services after natural and human-made disasters.

United Kingdom

The United Kingdom adjusted its focus on emergency management following the 2000 UK fuel protests, severe flooding in the same year and the 2001 United Kingdom foot-and-mouth crisis. This resulted in the creation of the Civil Contingencies Act 2004 (CCA) which defined some organisations as Category 1 and 2 Responders. These responders have responsibilities under the legislation regarding emergency preparedness and response. The CCA is managed by the Civil Contingencies Secretariat through Regional Resilience Forums and at the local authority level.

Disaster Management training is generally conducted at the local level by the organisations involved in any response. This is consolidated through professional courses that can be undertaken at the Emergency Planning College. Furthermore diplomas, undergraduate and postgraduate qualifications can be gained throughout the country – the first course of this type was carried out by Coventry University in 1994. The Institute of Emergency Management is a charity, established in 1996, providing consulting services for the government, media and commercial sectors.

The Professional Society for Emergency Planners is the Emergency Planning Society.[55]

One of the largest emergency exercises in the UK was carried out on 20 May 2007 near Belfast, Northern Ireland, and involved the scenario of a plane crash landing at Belfast International Airport. Staff from five hospitals and three airports participated in the drill, and almost 150 international observers assessed its effectiveness.[56]

United States

Disaster and catastrophe planning in the United States has utilized the functional All-Hazards approach for over 20 years, in which emergency managers develop processes (such as communication & warning or sheltering) rather than developing single-hazard/threat focused plans (e.g., a tornado plan). Processes then are mapped to the hazards/threats, with the emergency manager looking for gaps, overlaps, and conflicts between processes.

This has the advantage of creating a plan more resilient to novel events (because all common processes are defined), encourages planning done by the process owners whom are the subject matter experts (e.g., the traffic management plan written by public works director, rather than the emergency manager), and focuses on processes (which are real, can be measured, ranked in importance, and are under our control). This key planning distinction often comes in conflict with non-emergency management regulatory bodies which require development of hazard/threat specific plans, such as development of specific H1N1 flu plans and terrorism-specific plans.

In the United States, all disasters start as local events, with local authorities in charge. If the event becomes overwhelming to local government, state emergency management (the primary government structure of the United States) becomes the controlling emergency management agency. Under the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is lead federal agency for emergency management and supports, but does not override, state authority. The United States and its territories are covered by one of ten regions for FEMA’s emergency management purposes.

Emergencies are managed at the most-local level possible, utilizing mutual aid agreements with adjacent jurisdictions. If the emergency is terrorist related or if declared an "Incident of National Significance", the Secretary of Homeland Security will initiate the National Response Framework (NRF). Under this plan the involvement of federal resources will be made possible, integrating in with the local, county, state, or tribal entities. Management will continue to be handled at the lowest possible level utilizing the National Incident Management System (NIMS).

The Citizen Corps is an organization of volunteer service programs, administered locally and coordinated nationally by DHS, which seek to mitigate disaster and prepare the population for emergency response through public education, training, and outreach. Community Emergency Response Teams are a Citizen Corps program focused on disaster preparedness and teaching basic disaster response skills. These volunteer teams are utilized to provide emergency support when disaster overwhelms the conventional emergency services.

The US Congress established the Center for Excellence in Disaster Management and Humanitarian Assistance (COE) as the principal agency to promote disaster preparedness and societal resiliency in the Asia-Pacific region. As part of its mandate, COE facilitates education and training in disaster preparedness, consequence management and health security to develop domestic, foreign and international capability and capacity.

Most disaster response by volunteer organizations. In the US, the Red Cross is chartered by Congress to coordinate disaster response services. For large events, religious organizations are able to mount volunteers quickly. The largest partners are the Salvation Army and Southern Baptists. The Salvation Army is usually primary for emergency lodging/shelter and direct feeding, chaplaincy and rebuild services;[57] the Baptists' 82,000+ volunteers do bulk food preparation (90% of the meals in a major disaster) for Salvation Army distribution and homeowner services such as debris and downed limb removal, mold abatement, hot showers and laundry, child care and chaplaincy.[58] Similar services are also provided by Methodist Relief Services, the Lutherans, and Samaritan's Purse.

Unaffiliated volunteers can be counted on to show up at most large disasters. To prevent abuse by criminals and for the safety of the volunteers, procedures have been implemented within most response agencies to manage and effectively use these 'SUVs' (Spontaneous Unaffiliated Volunteers).[59]

See also



  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Haddow, George D.; Jane A Bullock (2003). Introduction to emergency management. Amsterdam: Butterworth-Heinemann. ISBN 0-7506-7689-2. 
  2. ^ Quarantelli, E.L.. "Emergencies, Disasters, and Catastrophes are Different Phenomena". Preliminary Papers. University of Delaware Disaster Research Center. http://dspace.udel.edu:8080/dspace/bitstream/handle/19716/674/PP304.pdf?sequence=1. Retrieved September 26, 2011. 
  3. ^ Quarentelli, EL. "Emergencies, Disasters, and Catastrophes are Different Phenomena". Preliminary Papers. University of Delaware Disaster Research Center. http://dspace.udel.edu:8080/dspace/bitstream/handle/19716/674/PP304.pdf?sequence=1. Retrieved September 26, 2011. 
  4. ^ Armitage, David; A. M. Moisan (2005). Strategic Forum No. 218. Institute for National Strategic Studies, National Defense University. 
  5. ^ Cuny, Fred C. (1983). Disasters and Development. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 
  6. ^ prevent. Merriam-Webster Dictionary
  7. ^ resilience. Merriam-Webster Dictionary
  8. ^ Wilson, James Parker, "Policy Actions of Texas Gulf Coast Cities to Mitigate Hurricane Damage: Perspectives of City Officials" (2009). Applied Research Projects. Texas State University. Paper 312. http://ecommons.txstate.edu/arp/312
  9. ^ Lindell, M., Prater, C., and Perry, R. (2006). Fundamentals of Emergency Management. Retrieved January 9, 2009 at: http://training.fema.gov/EMIWeb/edu/fem.asp.
  10. ^ Drabek, Thomas E. (1986). Human System Responses to Disaster. New York: Springer-Verlag. pp. 21. ISBN 0387963235. 
  11. ^ National Preparedness Guidelines, FEMA Department of Homeland Security
  12. ^ Modeling critical vaccine supply location: protecting critical infrastructure and population in central Florida Paul J. Maliszewski (2008)
  13. ^ Walker, Peter (1991). International Search and Rescue Teams, A League Discussion Paper. Geneva: League of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. 
  14. ^ John Harrald in Agility and Discipline: Critical Success Factors for Disaster Response, The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 2006; 604; 256
  15. ^ George Bradt in Leading Through a Crisis – The New Leader's 100-Hour Action Plan, to be published as part of the third edition of The New Leader's 100-Day Action Plan by J.Wiley and Sons 2012, currently available as a white paper on the PrimeGenesis website
  16. ^ http://www.recoveryplatform.org/ recoveryplatform.org
  17. ^ Alexander, David (2002). Principles of Emergency planning and Management. Harpenden: Terra Publishing. ISBN 1-903544-10-6. 
  18. ^ www.fema.gov Federal Emergency Management Agency Website
  19. ^ Jaffin, Bob (September 17, 2008). "Emergency Management Training: How to Find the Right Program". Emergency Management Magazine. http://www.govtech.com/em/articles/400741. Retrieved 2008-11-15. [dead link]
  20. ^ http://www.iaem.com/certification/generalinfo/intro.htm
  21. ^ Buchanan, Sally. "Emergency preparedness." from Paul Banks and Roberta Pilette. Preservation Issues and Planning. Chicago: American Library Association, 2000. 159–165. ISBN 978-0-8389-0776-4
  22. ^ http://www.populationexplorer.com/
  23. ^ The Veterinary profession's duty of care in response to disasters and food animal emergencies. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, Vol 231, No. 2, July 15, 2007
  24. ^ http://www.iaem.com/about/membership/Regions/IAEMAsia/IAEMAsia.htm
  25. ^ http://www.iaem.com/about/membership/regions/Region13.htm
  26. ^ http://www.iaem.com/regions/iaemeuropa/
  27. ^ http://www.iaem.com/about/membership/regions/internationalregion/intregion.htm
  28. ^ http://www.iaem.com/about/membership/regions/IAEMOceania/IAEMOceania.htm
  29. ^ http://www.iaem.com/about/membership/regions/studentregion/studentregion.htm
  30. ^ http://www.iaem.com/Councils/IAEM-USA.htm
  31. ^ http://www.ifrc.org/en/what-we-do/disaster-management/responding/disaster-response-system/dr-tools-and-systems/responding-to-disasters-field-assessment-coordination-teams-fact/
  32. ^ http://www.ifrc.org/what/disasters/responding/drs/tools/eru.asp
  33. ^ List of World Bank projects with disaster management components and World Bank Disaster Risk Management Projects
  34. ^ World Bank Disaster Risk Management Projects. Web.worldbank.org (2004-04-28). Retrieved on 2011-07-28.
  35. ^ Natural Disaster Hotspots. Ldeo.columbia.edu. Retrieved on 2011-07-28.
  36. ^ Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery. Gfdrr.org. Retrieved on 2011-07-28.
  37. ^ "Civil Protection – The Community mechanism for civil protection". Ec.europa.eu. http://ec.europa.eu/echo/civil_protection/civil/prote/mechanism.htm. Retrieved 2010-07-29. 
  38. ^ recoveryplatform.org
  39. ^ a b Healey, J. (2006). Natural Disasters. Sydney: The Spinney Press. ISBN 1-920801-50-2. 
  40. ^ Keeney, J. (2007). In Case of Emergency. Sydney: Design Masters Press. ISBN 978-0—9775866-1-5. 
  41. ^ Australian Communications and Media Authority's. "Appendix A: Australian Emergency Management Arrangements". Web Article. Australian Government. http://www.acma.gov.au/WEB/STANDARD/pc=PC_572. Retrieved October 1, 2011. 
  42. ^ Emergency Management Australia. "Emergency Management Arrangements in Australia - Queensland Arrangements". Web Article. Australian Government. http://www.ag.gov.au/www/emaweb/emaweb.nsf/Page/EmergencyManagement_PreparingforEmergencies_PlansandArrangements_QueenslandArrangements. Retrieved October 1, 2011. 
  43. ^ Emergency Management Queesland. "SES Subsidy Program Funding Guidelines". Web Article. Queensland Government Department of Emergency Services. http://www.lgaq.asn.au/c/document_library/get_file?p_l_id=418589&folderId=95182&name=DLFE-9218.pdf. Retrieved October 1, 2011. 
  44. ^ Emergency Management Australia (2004). Emergency Management in Australia Concepts and Principles. Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia. ISBN 0-9750474-6-9. 
  45. ^ First Five Minutes. "Emergency Control Organisations". Article. First Five Minutes. http://www.first5minutes.com.au/assets/newsletters/newsletter_vol_41.pdf. Retrieved October 2, 2011. 
  46. ^ Vos, F et al.. "Annual Disaster Statistical Review 2009 url=http://www.cred.be/adsr-2009". Paper. Centre for Research on Epidemiology of Disasters. 
  47. ^ Wraptinweb?. "Resilience Improvement Cycle". Web Article. Twiki. http://resilientnationaustralia.org/bin/view/Main/ResilienceImprovementCycle. Retrieved October 1, 2011. 
  48. ^ Marc Jansen (2010-06-29). "Startseite des Studiengangs Katastrophenvorsorge und -management". Kavoma.de. http://www.kavoma.de. Retrieved 2010-07-29. 
  49. ^ National Civil Defence Emergency Plan Order 2005. Legislation.govt.nz (2008-10-01). Retrieved on 2011-07-28.
  50. ^ National Civil Defence Emergency Management Strategy 2007, page 5. Department of Internal Affairs, Wellington, New Zealand 2008. Digital edition. Retrieved 3 August 2008. ISBN 0-478-29453-0.
  51. ^ See Parliamentary media releases on emergency management,
    the Reserve Bank of New Zealand's crisis management material and
    Ministry of Social Development’s website, which omits the term ‘emergency management’ altogether, Retrieved 3 August 2008.
  52. ^ Civil Defence Emergency Management Act 2002, s4.. Retrieved 3 August 2008.
  53. ^ For example, disaster is not used in the Civil Defence Emergency Management Act 2002, the enabling legislation for New Zealand's emergency management
  54. ^ Retrieved 3 August according to rahul jain the fludes and natural uncertainties are included in mgt it is known as disaster mgt2008. (PDF) . Retrieved on 2011-07-28.
  55. ^ Emergency Planning Society. The-eps.org. Retrieved on 2011-07-28.
  56. ^ Mock plane crash tests NI crews, BBC News, May 20, 2007
  57. ^ The Salvation Army Emergency Disaster Services. Disaster.salvationarmyusa.org. Retrieved on 2011-07-28.
  58. ^ 2010 Activity Report. Namb.net. Retrieved on 2011-07-28.
  59. ^ http://www.citizencorps.gov/downloads/pdf/ManagingSpontaneousVolunteers.pdf

Further reading

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