An emergency management system is by definition a partnership. Traditionally the partners have included first responders, Federal, State and local government emergency management organizations and the voluntary non-governmental organizations such as the Red Cross, Salvation Army and others. Together these groups promoted preparedness and mitigation actions and conducted response and recovery operations.
In recent years, a new set of partners have become involved in emergency management including the business sector and the media. The new threat of biological and chemical weapons has resulted in a greater role for the public health system in emergency management.
Increasingly, the general public has become more involved in emergency management through Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT) and involvement in planning and implementing community preparedness and mitigation programs and actions.
How well these partners work together defines how well the emergency management system functions. Agreements such as the Federal Response Plan and Mutual Aid Compacts define the roles and responsibilities of each partner. Community agreements and partnerships define risks and what to do to protect families, homes and businesses from harm. Training and exercises allow partners to work together and to refine and enhance their roles.
In every facet of a successful emergency management system or function, partnerships leverage resources and technical skills, promote the exchange of accurate and timely information and ensure that all the resources of the government, the community and private sector are brought to bear on disaster issues.