Emergency and Risk Management

Introduction

Emergency management is most simply defined as the discipline dealing with risk and risk avoidance.  Risk represents a broad range of issues and includes an equally diverse set of players. The range of situations and events that could potentially involve emergency management or the emergency management system is extensive.  It is undeniable that emergency management is integral to the security of our daily lives, and as such it should be integrated into our daily decisions rather than being called upon only in response to major disasters.

Emergency management is an essential role of government.  The Constitution tasks the States with responsibility for public health and safety – hence they are responsible for public risks.  The Federal government assumes a secondary role.  The Federal Government’s ultimate obligation is to help when State, local or individual entities are overwhelmed.  Despite significant changes to emergency management that have occurred in response to the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks, this fundamental philosophy continues to guide the government function of emergency management.

Based on this strong foundation, the validity of emergency management as a government function has never fallen into question.  Entities and organizations fulfilling emergency management needs have existed at the State and local level since long before the Federal government became involved.  But through time, as political philosophies changed and as the Nation developed, the Federal Government role in emergency management has steadily increased to become the multi-billion dollar program that exists today.

The purpose of this chapter is to introduce the reader to current and historical crisis, disaster and risk management concepts, to define the four phases of emergency management, and to highlight issues concerning communications, business continuity planning and international disaster programs.  Also included in this chapter is a discussion of the attributes of a successful emergency management system that will be illustrated in the case studies presented in this book.

This chapter includes the following sections:

  • Review of Historical Trends in Emergency Management
  • Four Phases of Emergency Management
  • Communications
  • Business Continuity Planning and Emergency Management
  • International Disaster Programs
  • Emergency Management and the New Terrorism Threat
  • Attributes of Successful Emergency Management Programs and Functions
  • Brief Descriptions of Case Studies

Review of Historical Trends in Emergency Management

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