Emergency management concepts

Emergency management concepts

An Emergency is an imminent or actual event that threatens both people and their property and it requires rapid and coordinated response (Alexander, 2005) while emergency management can refer to all activities that are geared towards preventing and responding to natural and man-made hazards. Whenever disaster strikes it is not the effort or sole responsibility of one agency or department. It often involves multiple agencies, on-governmental organizations and many other actors depending with the context.

Emergency Management involves mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery and all these have been captured in the national response plan that details the role of all stakeholders in the in the management of emergencies. The goal is to build the capacities of communities and organization to reduce vulnerabilities to hazards and enhance ability to respond to disasters. Some disaster are man-made such as terrorism. Terrorism can be defined as premeditated acts of political violence against civilians or non-military personnel with the intention of getting wider media attention and coverage to cause great fear in the population and further a given agenda. Terrorism has far and wide reaching consequences on the politics and socio-economic life of a people for instance the 9/11 attacks marked a great change in emergency management

Homeland security is a concept that came into being after the 9/11 terrorist on New York and it has a very wide mandate that includes the immigration, disaster, law enforcement and terrorism. The department of homeland security is charged with coordinating response to emergencies and events that threaten the USA economy, rule of law and normal operations at all levels of government. Such events may include public health emergencies such a disease outbreak or natural calamities such s floods, earthquakes and hurricanes.

Preparedness as it relates to emergency management can be defined as the state of being ready to respond to a disaster, hazard or any other event that can cause a serious threat to property and lives both human and animal (FEMA, 2004) It is not merely being the concept of being ready but making sure that response mechanisms you have put in place are adequate. For instance, it was a surprise to most people that hurricane Katrina would hit the city of New Orleans, it had been expected for some time but no one had expected prepared for the collapse of man-made levees that protected the city against floods. When the levees collapsed the problems were overwhelming that the responders couldn’t cope and a good number of people passed on even though almost 80% of the population had been evacuated by the time of the hurricane but still almost 1200 people died to delays in evacuation (Lagadec, 2008)

An incident command center is an important element in emergency management because it is responsible for discharging disaster related information to the public and the media. It should be established at a central location because all information and resource coordination that forms part of the incident command system is coordinated here.

A catastrophe is in essence a disaster but its magnitude and impact is greater .A catastrophe always cuts communities and it can affect an entire region devastating and destroying the environment, settlements, places of worship and people’s livelihoods and it is overwhelming for a single community to respond to it .A catastrophe requires the response of both state and federal government actors. An example is the hurricane Katrina that was beyond both the state of Louisiana and FEMA to respond.

Threats are events are likely to cause damage and harm to a community they can be natural such as the fires, typhoons, floods and droughts or man-made such as terrorism or technological such as bridge collapse, release of hazardous materials such as chemicals.

Mitigation can be described as measures that are geared towards elimination, reduction in probability and reduction in impact of natural and man-made disasters on a community and a nation (Drabek, 1986). Such efforts may include imposition of restriction against building in flood prone areas to protect people against effects of potential floods. Response are the measures taken during or immediately after the happening of a disaster to eliminate or minimize its effects such activities may include evacuation of victims of a natural disaster to safe areas.

A hazard is defined as an existing or potential condition that may lead up to a disaster causing damage to environment and property and harm to life. Hazards can be classified into two kinds; natural hazards such as floods and earthquakes while man-made hazards include transport accident and acts of terrorism.

And finally recovery in emergency management entails measures and efforts taken to restore a community to normal or pre disaster condition (Drabek, 1986) such efforts can include compensation of victims of disasters for property lost and rebuilding of broken neighborhoods and communities.

In conclusion, the occurrence of emergencies is commonplace phenomenon that often leaves behind a trail of destruction of property and loss of lives hence emergency management is aimed at lessening the impact of this disaster and offering timely response.


Alexander, D. (2005). Towards the development of standards in emergency management training and education. Disaster Prevention and Management.


Drabek, T. (1986). Human system responses to disaster: An inventory of sociological findings. New York: Springer-Verlag.

Lagadec, P. 2008. A New Cosmology of Risks and Crises: Time for a Radical Shift in Paradigm and Practice. Review of Policy Research, 473-486

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