Emergency Management

Emergency management is an essential role of local government. The International Association of Emergency Management (IAEM) defines Emergency Management as – The managerial function charged with creating the framework within which communities reduce vulnerability to threats/hazards and cope with disasters. As providers of essential government services, local governments must ensure the capacity to first, reduce the loss of life; then, to minimize property loss and damage to the environment, and finally, to protect the jurisdiction from all threats and hazards.
Emergency management must be integrated into daily decisions and operations, not just during times of disasters.
The Emergency Management Institute’s Higher Education Project working group identified the following eight principles:

  • Comprehensive – Emergency managers consider and take into account all threats/hazards, all phases, all stakeholders, and all impacts relevant to disasters.
  • Progressive – Emergency managers anticipate future disasters and take protective, preventive, and preparatory measures to build disaster-resistant and disaster-resilient communities.
  • Risk-Driven – Emergency managers use sound risk management principles (threat/hazard identification, risk analysis, and impact analysis) in assigning priorities and resources.
  • Integrated – Emergency managers ensure unity of effort among all levels of government and all elements of a community.
  • Collaborative – Emergency managers create and sustain broad and sincere relationships among individuals and organizations to encourage trust, advocate a team atmosphere, build consensus, and facilitate communication.
  • Coordinated – Emergency managers synchronize the activities of all relevant stakeholders to achieve a common purpose.
  • Flexible – Emergency managers use creative and innovative approaches in solving disaster challenges.
  • Professional – Emergency managers value a science- and knowledge-based approach based on education, training, experience, ethical practice, public stewardship, and continuous improvement.

Safety and security of the community and its residents are the primary concerns of emergency management practitioners.

Emergency Operations Center (EOC)

The Emergency Operations Center (EOC) is a location from which centralized emergency management can be performed during emergencies and disasters. It serves as the center point for local/municipal government for coordination and executive decision-making essential for response to and support of incident commanders during emergencies.

Benefits of an EOC

  • Helps establish a common operating picture
  • Facilitates long-term operations
  • Improves continuity
  • Provides ready access to all available information
  • Simplifies information analysis and verification
  • Promotes resource identification and assignment

EOC’s Critical Link in Coordination

  • Acquire, assign, and track resources
  • Manage information
  • Set response priorities
  • Provide legal and financial support
  • Liaison with other jurisdictions and other levels of government

Roll of the EOC

  • Central location
  • Provides interagency coordination
  • Executive decision-making
  • Support
  • Incident Response

Advantages of EOC’s

  • Allow the IC to focus on the needs of the incident
  • Provide a conduit between the incident command and higher-levels of MACS entities
  • Promote problem resolution at the lowest practical level

The Emergency Operations Center (EOC) uses the principles outlined in the National Incident Management System (NIMS). It is a comprehensive, national approach to incident management applicable to all hazards and jurisdictions. Homeland Security Presidential Directive (HSPD)-5 outlines the objective of the United States Government to ensure that all levels of government across the Nation have the capability to work efficiently and effectively together, using a national approach to domestic incident management. This directive established the National Incident Management System (NIMS).

NIMS Components:

  • Preparedness
    • Effective incident management begins with a host of preparedness activities conducted on a “steady-state” basis, well in advance of any potential incident. Preparedness involves an integrated combination of planning, training, exercises, personnel qualification and certification standards, equipment acquisition and certification standards, and publication management processes and activities.
  • Communications and Information Management
    • NIMS identifies the requirement for a standardized framework for communications, information management (collection, analysis, and dissemination), and information-sharing at all levels of incident management.
  • Resource Management
    • NIMS defines standardized mechanisms and establishes requirements for processes to describe, inventory, mobilize, dispatch, track, and recover resources over the life cycle of an incident.
  • Command and Management
    • NIMS standard incident command structures are based on three key organizational systems:
      • ICS. ICS defines the operating characteristics, interactive management components, and structure of incident management and emergency response organizations engaged throughout the life cycle of an incident.
      • Multiagency Coordination Systems. These systems define the operating characteristics, interactive management components, and organizational structure of supporting incident management entities engaged at the Federal, State, local, tribal, and regional levels through mutual aid agreements and other assistance arrangements.
      • Public Information. Public Information refers to processes, procedures, and systems for communicating timely and accurate information to the public during crisis or emergency situations.
  • Ongoing Management and Maintenance
    • This component establishes an activity to provide strategic direction for and oversight of NIMS, supporting both routine review and the continuous refinement of the system and its components over the long term.

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Incident Command System (ICS), which mirrors the structure within the Incident Command Post (ICP)


  • Clarity of roles & functional integrity
  • Logistical & financial support more easily coordinated


  • Potential for confusion about command authority at incident scene versus EOC
  • Confusion of roles likely:
  • Structure so closely matches tactical field organization

ICS / ESF hybrid model, which incorporates components of the incident command system along
with the National Response Framework (NRF) Emergency Support Functions (ESF)’s


  • Coordinates with ISC organizations
  • Provides clear one-to-one relationship with NRF


  • May violate span-of-control
  • Level of expertise required in some ESFs

The final organizational model used may depend on state and local ordinances and policy or the one that works best for the jurisdiction.