Emergency Management Overview

Emergency management has a set of four goals at the most basic level: to save lives, prevent injury, protect property and protect the environment.

These goals are considered when setting priorities during each of the four phases of emergency management. The four phases are shown in the chart below, click the thumbnail to view the full size image.

Thumbnail of a chart showing the four phases of emergency management

There are emergency management functions that take place at all levels of government (local, county, state, federal, and tribal) as well as at public utilities and within the private sector.

The Tucson Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security (TOEMHS) is the local agency responsible for these functions within the City of Tucson. The TOEMHS is but one part of a national, and international, system of emergency management. This system is built on an ever evolving set of standards, procedures, lessons learned and best practices that stem from both exercises and real world events.

The International Association of Emergency Managers (IAEM) defines emergency management as follows:

Emergency management is the managerial function charged with creating the framework within which communities reduce vulnerability to hazards and cope with disasters.

The IAEM continues by defining a vision statement for emergency management at an international level:

Emergency management seeks to promote safer, less vulnerable communities with the capacity to cope with hazards and disasters.

And elaborates on this vision by defining a mission statement:

Emergency management protects communities 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 man-made disasters.

In order to provide guidance on achieving the mission statement above, the IAEM calls out a set of eight principles that all emergency management activities must encompass. Specifically, the IAEM states that emergency management must be:

  1. Comprehensive - emergency managers consider and take into account all hazards, all phases, all stakeholders and all impacts relevant to disasters.
  2. Progressive - emergency managers anticipate future disasters and take preventive and preparatory measures to build disaster-resistant and disaster-resilient communities.
  3. Risk-driven - emergency managers use sound risk management principles (hazard identification, risk analysis, and impact analysis) in assigning priorities and resources.
  4. Integrated - emergency managers ensure unity of effort among all levels of government and all elements of a community.
  5. 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.
  6. Coordinated - emergency managers synchronize the activities of all relevant stakeholders to achieve a common purpose.
  7. Flexible - emergency managers use creative and innovative approaches in solving disaster challenges.
  8. Professional - emergency managers value a science and knowledge-based approach based on education, training, experience, ethical practice, public stewardship and continuous improvement.

The TOEMHS strives to operate under the vision, mission and principles described by the IAEM. The TOEMHS also continually pursues compliance with NFPA 1600 - Standard on Disaster/Emergency Management and Business Continuity Programs as well as recognition under the Emergency Management Accreditation Program, both of which set standards for excellence for emergency management.