Understanding the Preparedness Phase of Emergency Management

Preparation is an ongoing cycle of planning, organizing, training, equipping, exercising, evaluating and taking corrective action. Training and exercise plans are the foundation of preparedness, which focuses on being ready to respond to all types of hazards, incidents and emergencies. Emergency training and preparedness plans increase the community's capacity to respond when a disaster strikes. Common preparedness measures include developing mutual aid agreements and memorandums of understanding, training both response personnel and citizens, conducting disaster exercises to strengthen training and testing capacities, and providing educational campaigns on all hazards.

Prevention, mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery are the five steps of emergency management. The “mitigation phase” occurs before a disaster happens. In this case, an organization will take steps to protect people and property while reducing the risks and consequences of a given disaster situation. The organization's primary goal is to reduce vulnerability to the impacts of disasters (such as property damage, injuries, and loss of life).

The “preparation phase” also takes place before a disaster occurs. Here, an organization tries to understand how a disaster can affect overall productivity and results. The organization will also provide appropriate education and implement preparedness measures.

The “response phase”

occurs immediately after a disaster.

Organizations must focus their attention on addressing immediate threats to people, property and businesses. The safety and well-being of occupants largely depend on their levels of preparedness before a disaster. It refers to measures that prevent an emergency, reduce the chance of an emergency occurring, or reduce the harmful effects of inevitable emergencies. The premise behind the four phases of emergency management is to reduce the impact of emergencies on people and communities through appropriate preparedness and response.

Response actions may include activating the emergency operations center, evacuating threatened populations, opening shelters and providing mass care, emergency rescue and medical care, firefighting, and urban search and rescue. Governments, schools and other agencies are adopting emergency management plans that cover these four phases and ensure that they have comprehensive plans to address the impact of emergency situations.

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