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Put simply, emergency management deals with risk and risk avoidance.1 This simple phrase turns into a complex, comprehensive discipline and field of study considering all hazards, all phases, all impacts, and all stakeholders.2 All hazards include the many possible natural (earth­quake, hurricane, tornado, flood, climate issues) or man-made (domestic/international terrorism, cyber) threats that create risk and vulnerability to an organization, community, or region. Using the phases of prevention, preparedness, mitigation, response and recovery, emergency management forms a management paradigm that prepares the organization to be disaster resistant and disaster resilient. All impacts include assessing the effects on population, human services, the economy, and infrastructures. Stakeholders include the individual, community, organization, business, hospital and the government as well as the collaboration between public, private, and governmental agencies. Emergency managers exist at all levels and function to coordinate and mobilize the right people, right agreements, and right policies and procedures when needed in an incident. The EMS physician is in a perfect position to assume a leadership or supportive role in many emergency management functions.


  • Define the role of emergency management organizations.

  • Discuss the relationship between emergency management and EMS, fire and law enforcement.

  • List the major communications modalities with advantages and disadvantages for each.

  • Define the roles of relevant Emergency Support Functions as well as the role the EM/EMS physician might play in each.

  • Discuss the role of EMS physicians as part of the Emergency Management system.


Emergency management is the coordination and integration of all activities necessary to build, sustain, and improve the capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, or mitigate against threatened or actual natural disasters, acts of terrorism, or other manmade disasters. The US development of emergency management began as a reactive model to a New Hampshire town destroyed by fire in 1803 when the government authorized dollars to rebuild. Under Franklin Roosevelt in the 1930s, the Reconstruction Finance Corporation and the Bureau of Public Roads led the effort to rebuild public facilities after disasters through loans. Flooding was an issue evidenced by the Tennessee Valley Authority projects and the Flood Control Act of 1934 leading to increased use and authority of the US Army Corps of Engineers to design and build flood control projects. Beginning in the 1950s, the focus shifted to the potential effects of nuclear war and the Cold War era began. Civil Defense programs were in place in every community and the familiar “Duck and Cover” program was taught in the schools and fallout shelter signs were common. During this time emergency preparedness was embedded in the Office of Defense Mobilization before being combined with Civil Defense into to the Office of Civil Defense and Mobilization. Natural disaster events such as Hurricanes Hazel and Audrey were dealt with in the previous reactive model of post event funding ...

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