The process of emergency management involves five phases: prevention, preparedness, response, recovery, and mitigation.
Prevention is the actions taken to decrease the likelihood that an event or crisis will occur. This includes the identification of hazards, the assessment of threats to life and property, and the taking of measures to reduce potential loss of life and property damage.
The preparedness phase involves activities undertaken in advance of an emergency. Anticipating what can go wrong, determining effective responses, and developing preparation of resources are critical steps in preparing for the unexpected. Common preparedness measures include:
- communication plans with easily understandable terminology and methods.
- proper maintenance and training of emergency services, including mass human resources such as community emergency response teams.
- development and exercise of emergency population warning methods combined with emergency shelters and evacuation plans.
- stockpiling, inventory, and maintain disaster supplies and equipment
- develop organizations of trained volunteers among civilian populations.
Response activities address the immediate and short-term effects of an emergency or disaster. These activities reduce personal injuries, casualties, damage to property, and reduce recovery time. The response phase may include actions to effectively contain and resolve an emergency incident. During the response phase the EOP is activated.
The aim of the recovery phase is to restore the affected area to its previous state. It differs from the response phase in its focus; recovery efforts are concerned with issues and decisions that must be made after immediate needs are addressed. Recovery efforts are primarily concerned with actions that involve rebuilding destroyed property, re-employment, and the repair of other essential infrastructure.
Mitigation is preventing future emergencies or minimizing their effects. Mitigation actions include activities that are designed to reduce or eliminate risks to persons or property or to lessen the actual or potential effects or consequences of an incident.