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Fundamentals of Emergency Preparedness/Management

The fundamental principles of emergency management is are based on four phases:
  1. Mitigation
  2. Preparedness
  3. Response; and
  4. Recovery
Cooperation, caution, and mutual respect at all levels of civic participation can reduce the impact of an emergency – the overall goal is the preservation of life, specifics evolve across four distinct phases.


In the wake of individual emergencies, safety professionals gain valuable “lessons learned” to improve the readiness footing of the entire community. Mitigation is an ongoing concern. Safety leaders must be prepared to advocate for mitigation, as it can often become a low civic priority in the absence of a specific threat. It includes infrastructural improvements and public outreach.

There is some overlap in the different phases of the cycle, and it is not always clear when one has ended and the next has begun. When all is said and done, individuals must maintain vigilance during an emergency and assume danger is still present until a change in condition is verified by informed authorities. Listening to hearsay can lead members of the community into danger.


As the name implies, preparedness begins long before there is a specific threat. The hazard is known, but it has not yet materialized. Preparedness involves coordination between government and people in the community to develop emergency response plans, train personnel, and educate citizens so that all stakeholders understand their responsibilities when emergency strikes.


The response phase of emergency management activates once disaster conditions have been felt or are anticipated. An earthquake or fire can happen with little warning, whereas communities may have time to gear up response to a hurricane or winter storm. During response, the focus is on saving lives, providing immediate security, and ensuring evacuation and mass care.


In the aftermath of response, recovery begins. Recovery might last for days, several months, or even years. Often, the first step in recovery is debris management, the removal of natural and man-made features that are damaged beyond repair. Housing is provided for those who have been displaced and healthcare resources are made available. Economic recovery follows.