The Roles Of Emergency Management

The Roles Of Emergency Management


Emergency situations are unforeseen occurrences of circumstances that necessitate immediate counter actions in order to ensure that normalcy is attained. In most cases, emergency situations are a result from disasters. These are calamitous events that bring forth huge loss, destructions and sudden failure (Rubin, 2012). Emergency management, on the other hand, entails counter actions taken by governmental bodies of various level of authority, individuals, private sector organizations, to name but a few, in an attempt to ensure that the state of normalcy is attained. This paper is aimed at discussing the vital roles that the federal government, state government, the military, and NGOs should play when it comes to an emergency response.

Effective Emergency Management

In the line of ensuring that emergency situations are handled effectively, there is a call for the federal government to work in collaboration with state and local governments, NGOs, citizens and the organizations from private sector (Homeland Security, 2008).The call is for all these players to handle the emergency at hand as a shared responsibility. This means that each of the abovementioned parties should be fully aware of their specific responsibilities when it comes to counter measuring the emergency. Besides, in order to devise a harmonized response, there is a need to have a coordinated plan of actions. In respect to the United States, the rules of coordination are provided for in the ‘National Preparedness Framework’, commonly referred to as NPF (Homeland Security, 2008). It was prepared in appreciation of the lessons learned from 9/11 attacks and the Katrina disasters. This is a consolidated action plan where the responsibilities are defined and shared among the involved parties. Also, it outlines the sequence in which the actions should follow in order to ensure that all of them work together as a united force. The result is a quick, comprehensive, timely and effective response to any emergency. When it comes to emergency situations, being prepared is just as vital as the actions taken themselves

Response Roles

Although it is very important to assign the responsibilities of ‘what’ and ‘how’ is expected, the ‘National Preparedness Framework’ (NPF) calls for a unified effort. It agitates for utilization of Incident Command System (ICS) (Homeland Security, 2008). This is a system that acknowledges the fact that the parties involved in an emergency response may have different chains of command. It, therefore, provides a platform through which parties, despite being subject to differing internal command systems, can work together in a complimentary manner in working towards the set goals.


Every response starts at a local level. The affected individuals and their local leaders or governmental bodies are the first to respond to an incident. Active members at this level include elected chiefs, emergency managers as well as individuals and households.

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Elected Chiefs

These may include, for example, cities’ mayors. Their roles are ensuring that people within their jurisdiction are aware of the methods for preparations for an emergency situation. Their key role is to prepare people under jurisdiction to prepare, cope and recover from consequences of a disaster. They meet their responsibilities via establishment of a healthy relationship with the local leadership, private sector companies, to name a few. The intention is to create a one-on-one exchange that would ensure coordination with local parties when such a need arises. They also help the local leaders to be prepared for a possible problem by training and planning ahead. They also play a key role of enacting special laws when it comes to efforts of disaster mitigation (National Council on Disability, 2009). Finally, it is under their jurisdiction to educate the general public about their expected role when it comes to situations of emergency.

Emergency Manager

This role lies in overseeing the emergency programs at a local level on a daily basis. The aim is to have an emergency program that has a common objective. The manager works with local elected officials and coordinates all of the local level matters of emergency responses. The manager is able to meet the demands of his/her responsibility through coordination of the planning details on emergency programs (National Council on Disability, 2009). He/she is also responsible for formulation of mutual aid and agreement programs at a local level. Moreover, the emergency manager is expected to inform the local leadership on the emergency management mitigation activities during a disaster.

Individuals and Households

Individuals and households play a crucial role in emergency situations, although they are not a part of any formal emergency structures. In terms of preparedness, they can build buildings above the flood level, thus reducing the amount of damage caused by flooding. They can also have an emergency survival kit that they could utilize before receiving emergency help from the authorities. Having a keen following of the emergency communication, individuals can increase their survival chances and, in addition to this, minimize risks of injury. Enrolling in emergency courses can prepare individuals on how to handle some emergency cases.

The Private Sector

Although it is the responsibility of the government agencies to protect its citizens and their properties, in many cases, government works hand in hand with NGOs and private sector parties. A conspicuous role played by the private sector is taking care of their employees’ welfare during and after an emergency situation. They also provide resource for specialized responses in terms of human expertise or machinery in order to help the surrounding community cope with the challenges posed by a disaster (Rubin, 2012). They are also heavily involved in educational campaigns for emergency situations through funding excersices.

Nongovernmental Organizations (NGOs)

After the government agencies, NGOs play a critical role prior, during and after an emergency incident. They actively participate in provision of specialized help and assist the government at all levels (National Council on Disability, 2009). They are heavily involved in analyzing the required help during a disaster and channel their resources towards provision of the needed help. Some of the active organizations include, but are not limited to, American Red Cross, which is actively involved in provision of mass care services during the full cycle of disaster and recovery. Another active organization is the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (National VOAD). It provides a platform in which various organizations share and use resources and knowledge during the whole disaster cycle.

States, Territories, and Tribal Governments

The role of the state when it comes to an emergency situation is collaboration with local actions by federal directives. The main purpose of the state is to provide additional resources that are needed during a disaster to the local government that requires additional help (Edwards, 2014). It is the mandate of the state to request additional resources from the federal government on the behalf of the tribal territories and local governments.

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The governor of any state in the United States during any emergency incident is at the epicenter of ensuring, within his/her jurisdiction, that the state resources are utilized in a manner that helps in preventing and mitigating disasters. He/she is also heavily involved in strategizing a plan of actions geared towards responding to the problems. The governor has the power to amend, or, in other cases, suspend laws that guide the nature of the response to the calamities.

State Homeland Security Advisor

The advisor plays a role in ensuring that a state has enough resources and technical capabilities to handle the emergency incidents. The main role played by a state advisor is that of a coordinator in the time when the state is facing a disaster or a similar incident.

Tribal Leader

A tribal leader is responsible for educating people under his tribal jurisdiction about the best way to handle the emergency situations. He/she also plays a role of a negotiator with other tribes and jurisdictions on behalf of the people he represents in search for additional help, when such is needed. Educating his people on matters of an emergency situation is also one of his/her responsibilities.

Federal Government

The federal government is the ultimate weapon against disasters, when both the local and state level authorities have no capacity to handle an emergency. A good aspect of the federal response is the fact that it is thorough, quick and flexible since it entails a combination of a plan that is inclusive of all of the lessons learnt from earlier disasters (Edwards, 2014). All of the federal response actions have a common chain of command and thus work in a coherent manner towards reaching the set goals. The head of a federal response is the president who is at the forefront regarding the directions at this level of response. It is at this level that the military comes, under the authority of the Department of Defense (DOD). Their role is to save lives and to alleviate human suffering caused by a disaster. However, it should be noted that the parties in the defense department work under a different chain of command, but work in a complementary manner nevertheless. Utilizing the DOD is only possible through authorization by the secretary of defense or bu a direction of the president.


It is evident that emergency incidents call for responses from different parties at different levels of organization. In the context of the USA, the response starts with individuals, local leadership, state and tribal authorities and finally the federal government (Rubin, 2012). However, a common denominator at all of these levels is the need for coordination. An impact of any disaster results in huge losses and this calls for all the relevant parties to work in a harmonizing manner. The National Preparedness Framework’ (NPF) lays out what is expected from different levels of government organization. This is in a line of ensuring that the emergency at hand is dealt with in a comprehensive and coordinated manner (Homeland Security, 2008). It provides the guidelines on how to prevent, cope and recover from any emergency incident. Moreover, it is clear that being prepared for a disaster is crucial when it comes to effectiveness of response to a disaster.

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