Glossary of Emergency Management Terms

To help you better understand emergency management, consider the following definitions:

Emergencies are deviations from planned or expected behavior or courses of events which endanger or adversely affect people, property, or the environment.

Minor emergencies are situations that can be resolved using the resources of the city and that involve a minimal number of departments and agencies.

Major emergencies are situations in which consolidation and centralization of the city's response is desirable. The activation of an Emergency Operations Center is appropriate. The consequences are such that city resources are insufficient to meet the threat or the demand of the recovery period. Outside assistance must be sought and coordinated.

Catastrophic emergencies are situations in which the level of destruction is of such magnitude and scope that a recovery program is an extensive and prolonged possibility. The threat to life and property is significant and warrants an aggressive response. The capability of the city to help itself is minimal.

Emergency management is the process an organization uses to prevent, mitigate, and recover from emergencies. Emergency management consists of planning, preparedness, response and readiness assurance activities.

Emergency planning is the development and preparation of emergency plans and procedures and the identification of necessary personnel and resources to provide an effective response.

Emergency preparedness is the training of personnel, acquisition and maintenance of resources, and exercising of the plans, procedures, personnel, and resources essential for emergency response.

Emergency response is the implementation of planning and preparedness during an emergency. Implementation includes the decisions, actions, and application of resources used to mitigate the impact of the emergency. Emergency response also includes recovery from the emergency.

Recovery includes all post-event activities and considerations. Recovery activities can continue for some time after an emergency.

Mitigation includes proactive activities or projects that eliminate or lessen the impact that disasters have on people or property.

The Virginia Department of Emergency Management is the state agency with the primary responsibility to plan for dealing effectively with any type of man-made or natural disaster.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency coordinates the federal government's response to major disasters and emergencies. When a major disaster threatens an area, FEMA works with state and local authorities to establish communications, position emergency equipment and supplies and track the event. When the disaster occurs, FEMA coordinates the delivery of federal resources under the Federal Response Plan.