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Disaster management (or emergency management) is the creation of plans through which communities reduce vulnerability to hazards and cope with disasters. Disaster management does not avert or eliminate the threats; instead, it focuses on creating plans to decrease the effect of disasters. Failure to create a plan could lead to human mortality, lost revenue, and damage to assets. Events covered by disaster management include acts of terrorism, industrial sabotage, fire, natural disasters (such as earthquakes, hurricanes, etc.), public disorder, industrial accidents, and communication failures.
If possible, emergency planning should aim to prevent emergencies from occurring, and failing that, should develop a good action plan to mitigate the results and effects of any emergencies. As time goes on, and more data becomes available, usually through the study of emergencies as they occur, a plan should evolve. The development of emergency plans is a cyclical process, common to many risk management disciplines, such as Business Continuity and Security Risk Management, as set out below:
There are a number of guidelines and publications regarding Emergency Planning, published by various professional organizations such as ASIS, National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), and the International Association of Emergency Managers (IAEM). There are very few Emergency Management specific standards, and emergency management as a discipline tends to fall under business resilience standards.
In order to avoid, or reduce significant losses to a business, emergency managers should work to identify and anticipate potential risks, hopefully to reduce their probability of occurring. In the event that an emergency does occur, managers should have a plan prepared to mitigate the effects of that emergency, as well as to ensure Business Continuity of critical operations post-incident. It is essential for an organisation to include procedures for determining whether an emergency situation has occurred and at what point an emergency management plan should be activated.
An emergency plan must be regularly maintained, in a structured and methodical manner, to ensure it is up-to-date in the event of an emergency. Emergency managers generally follow a common process to anticipate, assess, prevent, prepare, respond and recover from an incident.
Emergency management plans and procedures should include the identification of appropriately trained staff members responsible for decision-making when an emergency occurs. Training plans should include internal people, contractors and civil protection partners, and should state the nature and frequency of training and testing.
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