The Federal Emergency Management Agency notes that emergency management is the managerial function charged with creating the framework within which communities and organizations reduce vulnerability to hazards and cope with disasters. Emergency management seeks to promote safety and less vulnerability with the capacity to cope with hazards and disasters.
Another way to look at emergency management is to consider managing risk, or in broader terms, disaster risk reduction. Communities and organizations can protect themselves by coordinating and integrating all activities necessary to build, sustain and improve the capability to mitigate against, prepare for, respond to, and recover from threatened or actual natural disasters, acts of terrorism, or other human-caused disasters.
Additionally, and in simple words, emergency management strives to
1. Save lives
2. Prevent injuries
3. Protect property
4. Protect the environment.
Preparedness is how we prepare for any kind of incident or disaster.
Response is how we react to an incident or disaster.
Recovery is how we rebuild and recover from an incident or disaster.
Mitigation is how we learn from what happened and how we reacted and recovered, and how we can improve our future plans. Mitigation is the effort to reduce loss of life and property by lessening the impact of disasters. In order for mitigation to be effective, we need to take action—before the next disaster—to reduce human and financial consequences later (analyzing risk, reducing risk, and insuring against risk).
To better understand emergency management, it really is a continuous cycle. Each of the four elements leads into the next, as shown in the diagram at the top of this page.
Planning and having tools, such as emergency-management exercises, incident-management support (including relevant software) and training to help us plan, are keys that keeps the cycle moving. Plans need to be in written format and updated regularly to improve what happens during the cycle.