The Five Missions of Emergency Preparedness

Special thanks to Brad Spicer, founder and president of SafePlans, for being our guest blogger today. Want to learn more about emergency preparedness and response? Then you’ll want to listen to the webinar Brad led for us yesterday. He goes into more detail about the mission areas – from prevention to recovery – and you’ll also hear about some of the emergency preparedness and situational awareness technologies available to help protect people, property and business operations. Click here  for the webinar recording, including the slide presentation.

The concept of emergency management originated with civil defense during the days of World War II. Since then, emergency management has evolved to focus primarily on preparedness. While preparedness is indeed the ultimate goal, it includes several key elements or missions. U.S. Presidential Policy Directive 8 outlines emergency preparedness and management efforts using these five interdependent mission areas: Prevention, Protection, Mitigation, Response and Recovery. 

Prevention means the capabilities necessary to avoid, deter or stop an imminent crime or threatened or actual mass-casualty incident. Prevention is the action taken to prevent a threatened or actual incident from occurring. 

Example Prevention Strategies:

  • Area hazards and vulnerability assessments
  • Workplace/campus violence prevention programs
  • Threat assessment teams
  • Situational awareness

Protection means the capabilities to secure against acts of violence and manmade or natural disasters. Protection focuses on ongoing actions that protect people and property from a threat or hazard. 

Example Protection Strategies:

  • Storm shelters
  • Security assessments/safety audits
  • Physical security 
  • Security staffing

Mitigation means the capabilities necessary to eliminate or reduce the loss of life and property damage by lessening the impact of an event or emergency. We also define “mitigation” as reducing the likelihood that threats and hazards will happen. 

Example Mitigation Strategies:

  • Collaboration
  • Emergency plans
  • Site mapping
  • Training

Response means the capabilities necessary to stabilize an emergency once it has already happened or is certain to happen in an unpreventable way; establish a safe and secure environment; save lives and property; and facilitate the transition to recovery. 

Example Response Strategies:

  • Site/campus safety teams (internal response)
  • First responders (external response)
  • Technology (9-1-1, video, app-based emergency plans, site mapping, automated alerting/mass notification)

Recovery means the capabilities necessary to assist in restoring the normal operations after an emergency. 

Example Response Strategies:

  • Mental health plans
  • Family reunification plans
  • Business continuity/continuity of operations plans (CoOP)

Emergency planning is the process that outlines the measures necessary to accomplish the five missions of emergency preparedness. All-hazards emergency plans illustrate an organization’s commitment to preparedness and safety. Emergencies can’t always be avoided, and all-hazards emergency plans offer the best opportunities to prevent emergencies, protect people and property, mitigate damages, respond effectively and recover from an event.  

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