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Disaster management (or emergency management) is the managerial function charged with creating the framework within which communities reduce vulnerability to hazards and cope with disasters. Disaster management does not avert or eliminate the threats, although their study is an important part of the field. Events covered by disaster management include acts of terrorism, industrial sabotage, fire, natural disasters (such as earthquakes, hurricanes, etc.), public disorder, industrial accidents, and communication failures.
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If possible, emergency planning should aim to prevent emergencies from occurring, and failing that, should develop a good action plan to mitigate the results and effects of any emergencies. As time goes on, and more data becomes available, usually through the study of emergencies as they occur, a plan should evolve. The development of emergency plans is a cyclical process, common to many risk management disciplines, such as Business Continuity and Security Risk Management, as set out below:
There are a number of guidelines and publications regarding Emergency Planning, published by various professional organisations such as ASIS, FEMA and the Emergency Planning College. There are very few Emergency Management specific standards, and emergency management as a discipline tends to fall under business resilience standards.
In order to avoid, or reduce significant losses to a business, emergency managers should work to identify and anticipate potential risks, hopefully to reduce their probability of occurring. In the event that an emergency does occur, managers should have a plan prepared to mitigate the effects of that emergency, as well as to ensure Business Continuity of critical operations post-incident. It is essential for an organisation to include procedures for determining whether an emergency situation has occurred and at what point an emergency management plan should be activated.
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An emergency plan must be regularly maintained, in a structured and methodical manner, ensure it is up-to-date in the event of an emergency. Emergency managers generally follow a common process to anticipate, assess, prevent, prepare, respond and recover from an incident.
Emergency management plans and procedures should include the identification of appropriately trained staff members responsible for decision-making when an emergency occurs. Training plans should include internal people, contractors and civil protection partners, and should state the nature and frequency of training and testing.
Testing of a plan's effectiveness should be carried out regularly. In instances where several business or organisations occupy the same space, joint emergency plans, formally agreed to by all parties, should be put into place.
Communication is one of the key issues during any emergency, pre-planning of communications is critical. Miscommunication can easily result in events escalating unnecessarily.
Once an emergency has been identified a comprehensive assessment evaluating the level of impact and its financial implications should be undertaken. Following assessment, the appropriate plan or response to be activated will depend on a specific pre-set criteria within the emergency plan. The steps necessary should be prioritised to ensure critical functions are operational as soon as possible.
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Emergency management consists of five phases: prevention, mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery.
Prevention was recently added to the phases of emergency management. It focuses on preventing the human hazard, primarily from potential natural disasters or terrorist attacks. Preventive measures are taken on both the domestic and international levels, designed to provide permanent protection from disasters. Not all disasters, particularly natural disasters, can be prevented, but the risk of loss of life and injury can be mitigated with good evacuation plans, environmental planning and design standards. In January 2005, 168 Governments adopted a 10-year global plan for natural disaster risk reduction called the Hyogo Framework.
Personal mitigation is a key to national preparedness. Individuals and families train to avoid unnecessary risks. This includes an assessment of possible risks to personal/family health and to personal property, and steps taken to minimize the effects of a disaster, or take procure insurance to protect them against effects of a disaster.
Preventive or mitigation measures take different forms for different types of disasters. In earthquake prone areas, these preventive measures might include structural changes such as the installation of an Earthquake Valve to instantly shut off the natural gas supply, seismic retrofits of property, and the securing of items inside a building. 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. In areas prone to prolonged electricity black-outs installation of a generator. The construction of storm cellars and fallout shelters are further examples of personal mitigative actions.
On a national level, governments might implement large scale mitigation measures. After the monsoon floods of 2010, the Punjab government subsequently constructed 22 'disaster-resilient' model villages, comprising 1885 single-storey homes, together with schools and health centres.
Preparedness focuses on preparing equipment and procedures for use when a disaster occurs. Preparedness measures can take many forms including the construction of shelters, implementation of an emergency communication system, installation of warning devices, creation of back-up life-line services (e.g., power, water, sewage), and rehearsing evacuation plans. Planning for all different types of events, and all magnitudes is of utmost importance, so that when a disaster does occur responders know exactly what their assignments are.
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 organizations. 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. The National Response Framework is a United States government publication that explains responsibilities and expectations of government officials at the local, state, federal, and tribal levels. It provides guidance on Emergency Support Functions which may be integrated in whole or parts to aid in the response and recovery process.
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.
Donations are often sought during this period, especially for large disasters that overwhelm local capacity. Due to efficiencies of scale, money is often the most cost-effective donation if fraud is avoided. Money is also the most flexible, and if goods are sourced locally then transportation is minimized and the local economy is boosted. Some donors prefer to send gifts in kind, however these items can end up creating issues, rather than helping. One innovation by Occupy Sandy volunteers is to use a donation registry, where families and businesses impacted by the disaster can make specific requests, which remote donors can purchase directly via a web site.
Medical considerations will vary greatly based on the type of disaster and secondary effects. Survivors may sustain a multitude of injuries to include lacerations, burns, near drowning, or crush syndrome.
The recovery phase starts after the immediate threat to human life has subsided. The immediate goal of the recovery phase is to bring the affected area back to normalcy as quickly as possible. 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. One should add vegetables, fruits, spices and meats, both prepared and fresh-gardened, when possible.
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Professional emergency managers can focus on government and community preparedness, or private business preparedness. 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.
In the past, the field of emergency management has been populated mostly by people with a military or first responder background. Currently, the field has become more diverse, with many managers coming from a variety of backgrounds other than the military or first responder fields. 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.
Professional certifications such as Certified Emergency Manager (CEM) and Certified Business Continuity Professional (CBCP) are becoming more common as professional standards are raised throughout the field, particularly in the United States. There are also professional organizations for emergency managers, such as the National Emergency Management Association and the International Association of Emergency Managers.
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 was the first time the principles of the discipline were to be codified. The group agreed on eight principles that will be used to guide the development of a doctrine of emergency management. Below is a summary:
A fuller description of these principles can be found at 
In recent years the continuity feature of emergency management has resulted in a new concept, Emergency Management Information Systems (EMIS). For continuity and inter-operability between emergency management stakeholders, EMIS supports an infrastructure that integrates emergency plans at all levels of government and non-government involvement for all four phases of emergencies. In the healthcare field, hospitals utilize the Hospital Incident Command System (HICS) which provides structure and organization in a clearly defined chain of command.
Smart Emergency Response System (SERS) prototype was built in the SmartAmerica Challenge 2013-2014, a United States government initiative. SERS has been created by a team of nine organizations led by MathWorks. The project was featured at the White House in June 2014 and described by Todd Park (U.S. Chief Technology Officer) as an exemplary achievement.
The SmartAmerica initiative challenges the participants to build cyber-physical systems as a glimpse of the future to save lives, create jobs, foster businesses, and improve the economy. SERS primarily saves lives. The system provides the survivors and the emergency personnel with information to locate and assist each other during a disaster. SERS allows to submit help requests to a MATLAB-based mission center connecting first responders, apps, search-and-rescue dogs, a 6-feet-tall humanoid, robots, drones, and autonomous aircraft and ground vehicles. The command and control center optimizes the available resources to serve every incoming requests and generates an action plan for the mission. The Wi-Fi network is created on the fly by the drones equipped with antennas. In addition, the autonomous rotorcrafts, planes, and ground vehicles are simulated with Simulink and visualized in a 3D environment (Google Earth) to unlock the ability to observe the operations on a mass scale.
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Practitioners in emergency management come from an increasing variety of backgrounds. Professionals from memory institutions (e.g., museums, historical societies, etc.) are dedicated to preserving cultural heritage—objects and records. This has been an increasingly major component within this 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 potential successful recovery of valuable records, a well-established and thoroughly tested plan must be developed. This plan should emphasize simplicity in order to aid in response and recovery: 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. Professional associations hold regular workshops to keep individuals up to date with tools and resources in order to minimize risk and maximize recovery.
In 2009, the U.S. Agency for International Development created a web-based tool for estimating populations impacted by disasters. Called Population Explorer the tool uses land scan 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 the Pacific Ocean Tsunami event in 2009.
In 2007, a checklist for veterinarians was published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, it had two sets of questions for a professional to ask themselves before assisting with an emergency:
Absolute requirements for participation:
While written for veterinarians, this checklist is applicable for any professional to consider before assisting with an emergency.
The International Emergency Management Society (TIEMS), is an international non-profit NGO, registered in Belgium. TIEMS is a Global Forum for Education, Training, Certification and Policy in Emergency and Disaster Management. TIEMS' goal is to develop and bring modern emergency management tools, and techniques into practice, through the exchange of information, methodology innovations and new technologies.
TIEMS provides a platform for stakeholders to meet, network and learn about new technical and operational methodologies. TIEMS focuses on cultural differences to be understood and included in the society’s events, education and research programs. This is achieved by establishing local chapters worldwide. Today, TIEMS has chapters in Benelux, Romania, Finland, Italy, Middle East and North Africa (MENA), Iraq, India, Korea, Japan and China.
The International Association of Emergency Managers (IAEM) is a non-profit educational organization aimed at promoting the goals of saving lives and property protection during emergencies. The mission of IAEM is to serve its members by providing information, networking and professional opportunities, and to advance the emergency management profession.
The Air Force Emergency Management Association, affiliated by membership with the IAEM, provides emergency management information and networking for US Air Force Emergency Managers.
The International Recovery Platform (IRP) was conceived at the World Conference on Disaster Reduction (WCDR) in Kobe, Hyogo, Japan in January 2005, as part of the Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA) 2005–2015. The HFA is a global plan for disaster risk reduction adopted by 168 governments.
The key role of IRP is to identify gaps in post disaster recovery and to serve as a catalyst for the development of tools and resources for recovery efforts.
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) works closely with national Red Cross/Red Crescent societies in responding to emergencies, many times playing a pivotal role. In addition, the IFRC may deploy assessment teams, e.g. Field Assessment and Coordination Teams (FACT), to the affected country if requested by the national society. After assessing the needs, Emergency Response Units (ERUs) may be deployed to the affected country or region. They are specialized in the response component of the emergency management framework.
The United Nations system rests with the Resident Coordinator within the affected country. However, in practice, the UN response will be coordinated by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN-OCHA), by deploying a UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) team, in response to a request by the affected country’s government.
Since 1980, the World Bank has approved more than 500 projects related to disaster management, dealing with both disaster mitigation as well as reconstruction projects, amounting to more than US$40 billion. These projects have taken place all over the world, in countries such as Argentina, Bangladesh, Colombia, Haiti, India, Mexico, Turkey and Vietnam.
Prevention and mitigation projects include forest fire prevention measures, such as early warning measures and education campaigns; early-warning systems for hurricanes; flood prevention mechanisms (e.g. shore protection, terracing, etc.); and earthquake-prone construction. 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.
In June 2006, the World Bank, in response to the HFA, established the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR), a partnership with other aid donors to reduce disaster losses. GFDRR helps developing countries fund development projects and programs that enhance local capacities for disaster prevention and emergency preparedness.
In 2001 the EU adopted Community Mechanism for Civil Protection, to facilitate co-operation in the event of major emergencies requiring urgent response actions. This also applies to situations where there may be an imminent threat as well.
The heart of the Mechanism is the Monitoring and Information Center (MIC), part of the European Commission's Directorate-General for Humanitarian Aid & Civil Protection. Accessible 24 hours a day, it gives countries access to a one-stop-shop of civil protections available amongst 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, and provides useful and updated information on the actual status of an ongoing emergency.
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Natural disasters are part of life in Australia. Heatwaves have killed more Australians than any other type of natural disaster in the 20th century. Australia’s emergency management processes embrace the concept of the prepared community. The principal government agency in achieving this is Emergency Management Australia.
Public Safety Canada is Canada’s national emergency management agency. Each province is required to have both legislation for dealing with emergencies, and provincial emergency management agencies, typically called "Emergency Measures Organizations" (EMO). Public Safety Canada coordinates and supports the efforts of federal organizations as well as other levels of government, first responders, community groups, the private sector, and other nations. The Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Act defines the powers, duties and functions of PS are outlined. Other acts are specific to individual fields such as corrections, law enforcement, and national security.
In Germany the Federal Government controls the German Katastrophenschutz (disaster relief), the Technisches Hilfswerk (Federal Agency for Technical Relief, THW), and the Zivilschutz (civil protection) programs. Local fire department units, the German Armed Forces (Bundeswehr), the German Federal Police and the 16 state police forces (Länderpolizei) are also deployed during disaster relief operations.
There are several private organizations in Germany which also deal with emergency relief. Among these are the German Red Cross, Johanniter-Unfall-Hilfe (the German equivalent of the St. John Ambulance), the Malteser-Hilfsdienst, and the Arbeiter-Samariter-Bund. As of 2006, there is a program of study at the University of Bonn leading to the degree "Master in Disaster Prevention and Risk Governance"
Emergency management in India is handled by the National Disaster Management Authority of India, part of the Ministry of Home Affairs. Recently, emphasis has shifted from response and recovery to strategic risk management and reduction, and also from a government-centered approach to decentralized community participation. The Ministry of Science and Technology also contains an agency that brings the expertise of earth scientists to emergency management. The Indian Army also plays an important role in the rescue/recovery operations after a disaster.
Aniruddha’s Academy of Disaster Management (AADM) is a non-profit organization in Mumbai, India with 'disaster management' as its principal objective.
In New Zealand, depending on the scope of the emergency/disaster, responsibility may be handled at either the local or national level. Within each region, local governments are organized into 16 Civil Defence Emergency Management Groups (CDEMGs). If local arrangements are overwhelmed, pre-existing mutual-support arrangements are activated. 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, and 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. Emergency management is rarely used, many government publications retaining the use of the term civil defence. For example, the Minister of Civil Defence is responsible for the MCDEM. Civil Defence Emergency Management is a term in its own right, defined by statute. And disaster rarely appears in official publications, emergency and incident being the preferred terms, with the term event also being used. For example, publications refer to the Canterbury Snow Event 2002
Disaster management in Pakistan revolves around flood disasters focusing on rescue and relief. There is a dearth of knowledge and information about hazard identification, risk assessment and management, and disaster preparedness. Disaster management, development planning and environmental management institutions operate in isolation with no integrated planning, there being no central authority for integrated disaster management. State-level measures are heavily tilted towards structural aspects.
The Disaster Risk Management Society is established in GC University, Lahore, under the supervision of the Department of Geography.
In Somalia, the Federal Government announced in May 2013 that the Cabinet had approved draft legislation on a new Somali Disaster Management Agency (SDMA), which had originally been proposed by the Ministry of Interior. According to the Prime Minister's Media Office, the SDMA will lead and coordinate the government's response to various natural disasters. It is part of a broader effort by the federal authorities to re-establish national institutions. The Federal Parliament is now expected to deliberate on the proposed bill for endorsement after any amendments.
In the Netherlands the Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations is responsible for emergency preparedness and emergency management on a national level and operates a national crisis centre (NCC). The country is divided into 25 safety regions (veiligheidsregio), each covered by three emergency services: police, fire department and ambulance. All regions operate according to the Coordinated Regional Incident Management system. Other services, such as the Ministry of Defence, water board(s) and Rijkswaterstaat, can have an active role in the emergency management process.
Following the 2000 fuel protests and severe flooding that same year, as well as the foot-and-mouth crisis in 2001, the United Kingdom passed the Civil Contingencies Act 2004 (CCA). The CCA defined some organisations as Category 1 and 2 Responders, setting responsibilities regarding emergency preparedness and response. It is managed by the Civil Contingencies Secretariat through Regional Resilience Forums and local authorities.
Disaster Management training is generally conducted at the local level, and consolidated through professional courses that can be taken at the Emergency Planning College. Diplomas, undergraduate and postgraduate qualifications can be gained at universities throughout the country. The Institute of Emergency Management is a charity, established in 1996, providing consulting services for the government, media and commercial sectors. There are a number of professional societies for Emergency Planners including the Emergency Planning Society and the Institute of Civil Protection and Emergency Management.
One of the largest emergency exercises in the UK was carried out on 20 May 2007 near Belfast, Northern Ireland: a simulated 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.
Disaster management in the United States has utilized the functional All-Hazards approach for over 20 years, in which managers develop processes (such as communication & warning or sheltering) rather than developing single-hazard or threat focused plans (e.g., a tornado plan). Processes are then mapped to specific hazards or threats, with the manager looking for gaps, overlaps, and conflicts between processes.
This creates a plan more resilient to unique events because all common processes are defined, and encourages planning done by the stakeholders who are closer to the individual processes, such as a traffic management plan written by public works director. This type of planning can lead to 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 are initially local, with local authorities, usually a law enforcement agency (LEA), taking 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. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), part of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), is lead federal agency for emergency management. The United States and its territories are broken down into ten regions for FEMA’s emergency management purposes. FEMA supports, but does not override, state authority.
The Citizen Corps is an organization of volunteer service programs, administered locally and coordinated nationally by DHS, which seek to mitigate disasters and prepare the population for emergency response through public education, training, and outreach. Most disaster response is carried out by volunteer organizations. In the US, the Red Cross is chartered by Congress to coordinate disaster response services, including typically being the lead agency handling shelter and feeding of evacuees. Religious organizations, with their ability to provide volunteers quickly, are usually integral during the response process. The largest being the Salvation Army, with a primary focus on chaplaincy and rebuilding, and Southern Baptists who focus on food preparation and distribution. Similar services are also provided by Methodist Relief Services, the Lutherans, and Samaritan's Purse. Unaffiliated volunteers 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).
The US Congress established the Center for Excellence in Disaster Management and Humanitarian Assistance (COE) as the principal agency to promote disaster preparedness in the Asia-Pacific region.
The National Tribal Emergency Management Council (NTEMC) is a non-profit educational organization developed for Tribal organizations to share information and best practices, as well as discussing issues regarding public health and safety, emergency management and homeland security, affecting those under Indian sovereignty. NTEMC is organized into Regions, based on the FEMA 10 region system. NTEMC was founded by the Northwest Tribal Emergency Management Council (NWTEMC), a consortium of 29 Tribal Nations and Villages in Washington, Idaho, Oregon and Alaska.
If a disaster or emergency is declared to be terror related or an "Incident of National Significance", the Secretary of Homeland Security will initiate the National Response Framework (NRF). The NRF allows the integration of federal resources with local, county, state, or tribal entities, with management of those resources to be handled at the lowest possible level, utilizing the National Incident Management System (NIMS).
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