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Emergency Management

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Emergency Management

Emergency management is often described in terms of "phases," using terms such as mitigate, prepare, respond and recover. The main purpose of this assignment is to examine the origins, underlying concepts, variations, limitations, and implications of the "phases of emergency management." In this paper we will look at definitions and descriptions of each phase or component of emergency management, the importance of understanding interrelationships and responsibilities for each phase, some newer language and associated concepts (e.g., disaster resistance, sustainability, resilience, business continuity, risk management), and the diversity of research perspectives.

Emergency management has been described for the past three decades as a "four phase" process, involving:

* Mitigation;

* Preparedness;

* Response;

* Recover.

These terms have been widely used by policy makers, practitioners, trainers, educators, and researchers. As illustrated in Figure 1 the four phases are often described as part of a continuous process.

Sometimes one phase of the emergency management tends to overlap of adjacent phase. The concept of "phases" has been used since the 1930's to help describe, examine, and understand disasters and to help organize the practice of emergency management. In an article titled Reconsidering the Phases of Disaster, David Neal cites different examples of different researchers using five, six, seven, and up to eight phases long before the four phases became the standard. (Neal 1997) This acknowledges that critical activities frequently cover more than one phase, and the boundaries between phases are seldom precise. Most sources also emphasize that important interrelationships exist among all the phases. For example, "mitigating" flood damage by restricting development in a flood plain will reduce the problems in "responding" to flooding. These interrelationships are discussed more in a subsequent section.

There are two aspects that are important for examination of the phases of emergency management. First, it is recommended that the scope of emergency management, as practiced at the federal and state levels, needed to expand beyond "preparedness" and "response" to include a set of activities they described as "mitigation" and another set of activities they described as "recovery". Even though it is evident that there is a close links between mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery are not adequately understood. Most state emergency offices were found to be focused almost exclusively on preparedness and response. Those emergency management offices were involved in "recovery" only to the extent of administering federal grants. Some mitigation and recovery activities were occurring, but not in coordination with other aspects of "comprehensive emergency management". Although most legislation



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