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 disasters or catastrophes, and to ensure their continuance within their planned lifetime.  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 astrategic 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.

Four Phases of Emergency Management

There are many protocols emergency services apply in an emergency, which usually start with planning before an emergency occurs. One commonly used system for demonstrating the phases is shown here below.

The planning phase starts at Preparedness, where the agencies decide on how they will respond to a given incident or set of circumstances. This should ideally include lines of command and control, and division of activities between agencies. This avoids potentially negative situations such as three separate agencies all starting an official rest center for victims of a disaster.

Following an emergency occurring, the agencies then move to a Response phase, where they execute their plans, and may end up improvising some areas of their response (due to gaps in the planning phase, which are inevitable due to the individual nature of most incidents).

Agencies may then be involved in Recovery following the incident, where they assist in the clear up from the incident, or help the people involved overcome their mental trauma.

The final phase in the circle is Mitigation, which involves taking steps to ensure no re-occurrence is possible, or putting additional plans in place to ensure less damage is done. This should feed back in to the preparedness stage, with updated plans in place to deal with future emergencies, thus completing the circle.