The Four Phases of Emergency Management


Mitigation refers to measures that reduce the chance of an emergency happening, or reduce the damaging effects of unavoidable emergencies. This is achieved through risk analysis, which results in information that provides Mitigation Closed Flood Gatea foundation for typical mitigation measures include establishing building codes, zoning requirements, and constructing barriers such as levees. Effective Mitigation efforts can break the cycle of disaster damage, reconstruction, and repeated damage.

It creates safer communities by reducing loss of life and property damage. For example, the rigorous building standards adopted by 20,000 communities across the country are saving the nation more than $1.1 billion a year in prevented flood damages. It allows individuals to minimize post-flood disaster disruptions and recover more rapidly. For example, homes built to NFIP standards incur less damage from floods. And when floods do cause damages, flood insurance protects the homeowner’s investment, and lessens the financial impact on individuals, communities, and society as a whole. For example, a recent study by the Multi-hazard Mitigation Council shows that each dollar spent on mitigation saves society an average of four dollars.


Sandbagging Operation

Preparedness activities increase a community’s ability to respond when a disaster occurs. The National Incident Management System (NIMS) defines preparedness as "a continuous cycle of planning, organizing, training, equipping, exercising, evaluating, and taking corrective action in an effort to ensure effective coordination during incident response."

This preparedness cycle is one element of a broader National Preparedness System to prevent, respond to, recover from, and mitigate against natural disasters, acts of terrorism, and other man-made disasters.

Typical preparedness measures include developing mutual aid agreements and memorandums of understanding, training for both response personnel and concerned citizens, conducting disaster exercises to reinforce training and test capabilities, and presenting all-hazards education campaigns.Unlike mitigation activities, which are aimed at preventing a disaster from occurring, personal preparedness focuses on preparing equipment and procedures for use when a disaster occurs, i.e. planning.

Preparedness measures can take many forms including the construction of shelters, installation of warning devices, creation of back-up life-line services (e.g. power, water, sewage), and rehearsing evacuation plans. Two simple measures can help prepare the individual for sitting out the event or evacuating, as necessary. For evacuation, a disaster supplies kit may be prepared and for sheltering purposes a stockpile of supplies may be created. These kits may include food, medicine, flashlights, candles and money.


A well rehearsed emergency plan developed as part of the preparedness phase enables efficient coordination of resources. Response actions carried out immediately before, during, and after a hazard impact are aimed at saving lives,reducing economic losses, and alleviating suffering.The response phase includes the mobilization of the necessary Fire Crew Responseemergency services and first responders in the disaster area. This is likely to include a first wave of core emergency services, such as firefighters, police and ambulance crews.


Response actions may include activating the Emergency Operations Center (EOC), evacuating threatened populations, opening shelters and providing mass care, emergency rescue and medical care, fire fighting, and urban search and rescue.Response begins when an emergency event is imminent or immediately after an event occurs. Response encompasses the activities that address the short-term, direct effects of an incident. Response also includes the execution of the Emergency Operations Plan and of incident mitigation activities designed to limit the loss of life, personal injury, property damage, and unfavorable outcomes. As indicated by the situation, response activities include:

  • Applying intelligence and other information to lessen the effects or consequences of an incident.
  • Increasing security operations.
  • Continuing investigations into the nature and source of the threat.
  • Ongoing public health and agricultural surveillance and testing processes, immunizations, isolation, or quarantine.
  • Specific law enforcement operations aimed at preempting, interdicting, or disrupting illegal activity, and apprehending actual perpetrators and bringing them to justice.
  • Restoring critical infrastructure (e.g., utilities).
  • Ensuring continuity of critical services (e.g., law enforcement, public works). In other words, response involves putting preparedness plans into action.
One of the first response tasks is to conduct a situation assessment. Local government is responsible for emergency response and for continued assessment of its ability to protect its citizens and the property within the community. To fulfill this responsibility, responders and local government officials must conduct an immediate rapid assessment of the local situation.


Actions taken to return a community to normal or near-normal conditions, including the restoration of basic services and the repair of physical, social and economic damages. Typical recovery actions include debris cleanup, financial assistance to individuals and governments, rebuilding of roads and bridges and key facilities, and sustained mass care Lineman repairing downed power linesfor displaced human and animal populations.

Recovery differs from the response phase in its focus; recovery efforts are concerned with issues and decisions that must be made after immediate needs are addressed. Recovery efforts are primarily concerned with actions that involve rebuilding destroyed property, re-employment, and the repair of other essential infrastructure.

The goal of recovery is to return the community’s systems and activities to normal. Recovery begins right after the emergency. Some recovery activities may be concurrent with response efforts.

Recovery is the development, coordination, and execution of service- and site-restoration plans for impacted communities and the reconstitution of government operations and services through individual, private-sector, nongovernmental, and public assistance programs that:

  • Identify needs and define resources.
  • Provide housing and promote restoration.
  • Address long-term care and treatment of affected persons.
  • Implement additional measures for community restoration.
  • Incorporate mitigation measures and techniques, as feasible.
  • Evaluate the incident to identify lessons learned.
  • Develop initiatives to mitigate the effects of future incidents.

Long-term recovery includes restoring economic activity and rebuilding community facilities and housing. Long-term recovery (stabilizing all systems) can sometimes take years.