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EMA 305: Comprehensive Emergency Management

Week 2 Lecture: Comprehensive Emergency Management

This session is designed to help you understand the principle of comprehensiveness for the

profession of emergency management. It first includes a discussion about the concept of

comprehensive emergency management. The session also devotes time to understanding the

need to include all hazards, vulnerabilities, impacts, phases and stakeholders involved in

emergency management.

Definition of “Comprehensiveness”:

Comprehensiveness” is listed or described as a key principle in emergency management

(Principles of Emergency Management Working Group 2008).

The term “comprehensiveness” has been defined in the dictionary as follows: “of large scope;

covering or involving much; inclusive” (see comprehensiveness. Dictionary.com.

Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1). Random House, Inc.

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/comprehensiveness.) “Comprehensiveness” therefore

suggests something that is broad, expansive, and in-depth. It is not partial, limited, or

incomplete. Instead, comprehensiveness implies a holistic approach to or view of a certain


If this is so, we should give some thought/discussion as to why comprehensiveness should be

included as a principle in emergency management. In other words, it is appropriate that we

justify reasons why emergency managers should take a broad and inclusive view of their

profession and discipline. Here are some possible justification:

 We can be affected by many hazards and vulnerabilities. These may range from

earthquakes and terrorist attacks to poverty and limited education.

 Disasters have substantial and diverse causes and impacts. These can be physical

and social, and may include many other consequences (e.g, economic,

psychological, political, etc.).

 There are many functions that must be performed before, during and after

disasters. Land-use planning, training, emergency medical care, and disaster

assistance are a few that come to mind.http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/comprehensiveness


 A variety of participants are also involved in emergency management. Besides

the emergency manager, there are also businesses and volunteers and many other

important players in disasters.

The principle of “comprehensiveness” is closely related to our assumptions about emergency

management. Emergency managers must:

 Not assume that they will only be impacted by the most probable hazards. In other

words, some events can take us by surprise if we do not anticipate the possibility of

their occurrence.

 Accept the fact that disasters have many causes and negative results – some of which

are not fully recognized by the average citizen or even experts. Put differently, there

are more causes than poor land-use planning and more consequences than just

damaged buildings.

 Avoid believing that they are unable to do anything to prevent a disaster, or think that

they can only react afterwards. Emergency management includes four phases

(mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery) for obvious and logical reasons.

 Recognize that there are many partners that can help to improve emergency

management. Emergency managers cannot be successful without other stakeholders.

Keeping these assumptions in mind, let’s look at each of these issues in turn.

All-Hazards Perspective:

One of the ways emergency managers can promote comprehensiveness is to take an all-hazards

approach to the profession of emergency management. Even though there are various meanings

for the all-hazards concept, we will discuss just a couple here:

First, an all-hazards approach implies that emergency managers are aware of each of the

different types of hazards that may potentially affect us. This may include events like tornadoes,

industrial accidents, and even terrorist attacks. There are many different types of hazards. These

emanate from nature, modern industry and technological equipment, and human error. Hazards

are often classified as being natural, technological or man-made. There are also other

classifications mentioned in the academic literature (e.g., biological, environmental).


Each area of the nation is affected by a unique mix of hazards. The west coast has earthquakes,

mudslides and wildfires. The south has hurricanes and tornadoes. The Midwest has tornadoes

and flooding. The northeast has winter storms and flooding. All areas of the United States have

the potential for technological and other anthropogenic hazards. There are no hazard-free areas.

While some areas are more hazardous than others, it is impossible to escape every single hazard.

Sometimes it is hard to distinguish the source of hazards (e.g., a plane crash could result from

weather, mechanical failure or pilot error – or even a combination of all three at the same time).

As an emergency manager, you must understand what types of hazards could affect the

community, state, region and nation. It is your job to be familiar with hazards and educate others

about them.

A second meaning of the all-hazards concept deals with the functions that are similar across

different hazards. In other words, there are many activities that are common to any type of

disaster (regardless of cause). For instance:

 Land-use planning has applicability to natural, technological and anthropogenic


 Disaster resistant construction methods are beneficial for the mitigation of tornadoes

and bombings.

 Planning, training and exercises help to prepare communities for any type of disaster.

 Warnings occur in many disasters including thunderstorms, tornadoes, and flooding.

 Evacuation takes place before hurricanes and after terrorist attacks.

 Sheltering is required after earthquakes, tsunamis, and building collapses.

 Emergency medical care is required for the victims of fires, chemical releases and

mass shootings.

 Special populations (e.g., children, women, elderly, prisoners, minorities) may need

extra care after all types of disasters.

 Most disasters require public information, donations management, and volunteer



 Damage assessment, debris removal and disaster assistance may be necessary after

many disasters.

In these and many other cases, the term all-hazards refers to predominant activities in or routine

functions of emergency management. All-hazard therefore implies emergency management

tasks that are common to all, many or most disasters. We’ll go into a little more depth on this

later in this discussion.

The all-hazards approach is vital to achieve comprehensiveness in emergency management.

There are a several important reasons why this is the case:

 Emergency managers must strive to become experts on disasters – the focus of this

profession. One cannot be an authority on this subject if he or she is aware of certain

types of disasters only.

 Emergency managers are expected to network and be able to communicate with

scientists, various government agencies, and industry representatives (e.g.,

meteorologists, United States Geological Survey, petro-chemical plants).

 Emergency managers may work in different communities, states and even nations

over the length of their career. The hazards context will be different in each situation,

and emergency managers should not be surprised by this fact.

 Emergency managers may be requested to work briefly outside of their jurisdiction to

fill mutual aid support services. The Emergency Management Assistance Compact

will send personnel from one part of the country to another if the situation warrants


 Emergency managers will not be able to anticipate resource requests unless they

know about the effects of distinct types of hazards. Without knowing much about

terrorism, an emergency manager will be unable to request Civil Support Teams for

attacks involving weapons of mass destruction.

 Without anticipating the broad spectrum of hazards, emergency managers and their

communities will be taken by surprise. Focusing too much on probable hazards can

cause you to miss those that are less likely, but still possible.

 Public apathy that sets in after certain seasons (e.g., tornadoes are most likely to form

in the Spring) can be countered by illustrating the dangers of other hazards (e.g., the

threat from winter storms, fires, hazardous materials releases, and terrorism).


 A single hazard may interact with a variety of other hazards. For instance, a

hurricane may produce or be associated with storm surges, tornadoes, flooding, and

technological failures (e.g., power outages).

 The nature of hazards is changing and emergency managers need to see linkages (e.g.,

global warming may result in increased flooding, heat waves, and drought).

 Lessons from one type of hazard may also be transferrable to another. When the

Department of Homeland Security created the Homeland Security Advisory System

(HSAS), it failed to adequately consult the research about warnings for natural

disasters. This has resulted in the HSAS being the butt of many late night television


 Emergency managers will be in a better position to illustrate how financial support

for emergency management is worth the expense. By knowing all types of hazards,

he or she will be able to convince the mayor and city council that a warning system

can be used for severe weather, an industrial accident and a terrorist attack.

 Because a disaster in one community may impact others far away, the emergency

manager will be better able to anticipate what needs to be done. By understanding the

impacts of hurricanes along the coast, inland cities or adjacent states will be in a

better position to help with sheltering or debris removal.

 Finally, an all-hazards approach helps to potentially prevent dramatic policy swings

that have often have an adverse effect on emergency management.

The focus on natural hazards resulted in a lack of priority towards industrial

hazards (e.g., Three Mile Island and Bhopal). The civil defense approach during

the 1980s weakened FEMA prior to Hurricane Andrew in 1992. The attention

given to Y2K seemed to overshadow the possibility of major natural disasters in

the 1990s (e.g., Midwest flooding, Northridge earthquake). The priority of

natural hazard mitigation during Project Impact downplayed the need for

terrorism preparedness and response prior to the Oklahoma City bombing.

Proposals for sustainable hazards mitigation among scholars in the mid and late

1990s seemed to discount or neglect the World Trade Center bombing and the

Tokyo sarin gas attack. The almost exclusive focus on terrorism after DHS was

created limited FEMA’s capabilities prior to Hurricane Katrina.

Vulnerabilities and Impacts:


Another way emergency managers can foster comprehensiveness is to take into account

vulnerability as well as the substantial impacts of disasters. Far too many emergency managers

focus on hazards alone and ignore vulnerability (McEntire 2005a). Ironically, we have no or

limited control over hazards. In contrast, it is now widely recognized that we have responsibility

and culpability for our vulnerability to hazards (McEntire 2005b).

Vulnerability is the dependent variable in disasters. That is to say, a hazard will not become a

disaster unless vulnerability exists and is present. An earthquake alone will not lead to a disaster.

It is when an earthquake interacts with individual and community vulnerability that a disaster

will occur.

Emergency managers should be aware that there is no single definition of vulnerability.

However, virtually all definitions of vulnerability focus on human characteristics and activities

that have a bearing on proneness and limited capabilities. For instance, it has been illustrated


 Children and elderly people are more vulnerable than middle aged individuals.

 Our choice for urban development may significantly impact our vulnerability to


There are accordingly two schools of thought regarding vulnerability (McEntire 2005b, 212-

213). First, it is argued that vulnerability is a result of social, political and economic forces.

Women, the powerless, and poor are far more likely to be vulnerable than men, the elite, and

wealthy. This perspective consequently advocates a restructuring of economic classes in society

in order to reduce disaster vulnerability.

A second school of thought accepts the premise of social vulnerability approach (described

above). However, this view also asserts that vulnerability is a product of not only structural

considerations, but many other factors, decisions and activities as well. In this case, structure

and culture (e.g., beliefs, values, attitudes and actions) are to blame.

In order to promote comprehensiveness, emergency managers must be aware of the both the

structural and cultural factors that make people vulnerable to disasters. For instance:

Many minorities are vulnerable because they may lack the financial resources needed to

live in safer areas, purchase preparedness necessities, evacuate from danger, or have

insurance to help them rebuild their lives after disasters.


The disabled are often vulnerable to disasters because they cannot protect themselves

from hazards (e.g., they cannot outrun rising flood waters).

Environmental degradation (e.g., deforestation and global warming) may make people

more vulnerable to floods.

The construction of buildings (in terms of materials used and methods of fabrication) also

has an impact on vulnerability.

Unplanned urbanization may result in increased vulnerability as people and

property encroach upon hazardous locations (e.g., steep hillsides or flood plains).

Carelessness in factories or disregard for safety measures augments vulnerability

to industrial disasters.

Neglect of or insufficient support for emergency management will increase the

vulnerability of communities, states and nations.

Poor decision making regarding emergency management functions may increase

the vulnerability of first responders and citizens alike.

The deteriorating health status of Americans may likely increase vulnerability to

the spread of diseases.

Foreign policy decisions and cultural misunderstandings may heighten

vulnerability to potential terrorist attacks.

Thus, emergency managers and the citizens they work with cannot promote comprehensiveness

unless they recognize the many variables that lead to disasters. Emergency managers must also

recognize the broad impacts of disasters if they are to follow the principle of comprehensiveness.

There are countless primary impacts that emanate from disasters.

Disasters produce injuries and deaths in significant amounts. For instance: The 6.7 magnitude

Northridge earthquake killed 72 people and injured 12,000 others. At least 1,836 people lost

their lives during Hurricane Katrina or after the subsequent flooding, making it the deadliest U.S.

hurricane since 1928.

Disasters damage and destroy buildings and the infrastructure. As an example, Hurricane

Andrew completely destroyed 25,000 homes, and damaged another 100,000 in Florida in 1992.

During the 1993 Midwest flooding, 1,000 miles of roads were closed. Nearly 500 miles of


railroad tracks were underwater. At least nine major bridges were damaged and required

significant repairs. For several weeks, the entire city of New Orleans lacked clean water for

drinking, washing or toilet flushing after Hurricane Katrina. More than 640,000 customers in

Texas remained without power 10 days after Hurricane Ike hit the Gulf Coast.

Disasters cause harm to animals, farmland and the natural environment. Cases in point include:

It is estimated that 2.9 million pets and livestock were killed after Hurricane Floyd. This

includes at least 2,107,857 chickens, 1,180 cattle, 28,000 hogs, 752,970 turkeys, and

other animals.

Nine million acres of farmland were submerged by the 1993 Midwest flooding.

Missouri, Minnesota, South Dakota and Iowa suffered the greatest crop losses.

After Hurricane Katrina, it was revealed that 31 Superfund sites in Louisiana, Mississippi

and Alabama were flooded. Another 90 sites were contaminated in the flooding,

resulting in the spill of 6.7 million gallons of fuel from refineries and tank farms.

Flooded cars, sunken vessels and household chemicals also contaminated those areas

affected by Katrina.

Disasters generate direct and indirect economic losses. For instance,

The loss of buildings in the World Trade Center complex on 9/11 is estimated between

$3 and $4 billion. Infrastructure damage was between $10 billion and $13 billion. The

damage to the Pentagon cost another $1 billion.

9/11 impacted the economy in other ways:

Debris removal cost $1.3 billion.

Loss of air traffic revenue was $10 billion.

Lost wages due to resulting unemployment hit $17 billion.

Federal emergency funds for heightened security reached $40 billion.

Losses to the insurance industry totaled $40 billion.

Projected cumulative loss in national income through the end of 2003 was a half a

trillion dollars.

Accompanying stock market losses approached $2 trillion.

Disasters may lead to significant political changes. As an example, the intelligence and security

failures leading up to 9/11 resulted in the most sweeping reform in government since World War

II. The poor response to Hurricane Katrina encouraging the passing of the Post-Katrina

Emergency Management Reform Act.


Such primary impacts are associated with several secondary consequences. Victims become

disabled and become dependent on society. Families lose bread winners. People have no home

in which to live. Driving becomes difficult or impossible due to damaged roads. Businesses,

hospitals and schools close or must relocate. Heating, air conditioning, lighting and cooking

cease. Farmers lose their livelihood or property. Food shortages may result. The environment is

uninhabitable or requires expensive remediation. The insurance industry is negatively affected.

Taxes rise for citizens. Approval ratings for politicians may decline.

In short, disasters disrupt the normal or routine functioning of society due to various impacts

(Kreps and Drabek 1996). All of these primary and secondary impacts of disasters must

therefore be considered under the banner of comprehensiveness in emergency management.

Phases of Disaster:

A third way to promote comprehensiveness is to incorporate each phase of the disaster life-cycle

into emergency management. It is also necessary to be aware of the inevitable breadth of

functions that must be performed to today’s emergency managers.

There are four phases that help to shape a comprehensive view of emergency management (Neal

1997). These phases include:

Mitigation – proactive efforts to prevent disasters or minimize negative consequences.

Preparedness – proactive efforts aimed at increasing community readiness for a disaster.

Response – urgent efforts during emergency phase of disasters.

Recovery – long-term activities to react to the disaster and rebuild affected communities.

If emergency managers are to approach their profession in a comprehensive manner, it is

imperative that they do not downplay any particular phases of emergency management. For


Mitigation is required in order to reverse the rising trend in disaster occurrence and

losses. Note: mitigation has traditionally been ignored by emergency managers.

Preparedness is necessary because it will be impossible to prevent all disasters. In other

words, if mitigation efforts fail, we must be ready to respond and recover.


Response is a crucial time to implement life saving measures. Response activities will

automatically have a bearing on recovery priorities.

Recovery is mandatory when the impacts of disasters must be overcome and corrected.

Recovery is also a wonderful time to implement mitigation measures. Note: recovery has

also largely been ignored by emergency managers in the past.

If mitigation and recovery are so important, should emergency management give

complete attention to these phases and neglect preparedness and response? What are

the consequences (both positive and negative) of doing so? (Although mitigation and

recovery are very important for disaster reduction, they should not overshadow the

contributions that preparedness and response make to emergency management.

Without taking into account preparedness and response we are incorrectly assuming

that we can prevent all disasters).

What does this discussion tell you about the importance of each phase of emergency

management? (They are all indispensable).

Each phase of emergency management includes a number of vital functions in emergency

management. Note: sometimes it is difficult to know in which phases we should categorize

functions and there is no definitive answer in some cases. Regardless, these functions, which

again illustrate the comprehensive nature of emergency management, may include at least the


Hazard and vulnerability assessments – emergency managers assess risks.

Land-use planning – emergency managers determine where it is appropriate to settle


Structural mitigation/target hardening – emergency management encourage the use of

improved construction materials and methods.

Industrial regulation creation and enforcement – emergency managers help to pass safety

laws and make sure they are being followed in corporations.

Planning – emergency managers identify how they will react when disasters occur.

Training – emergency managers promote an understanding of the plan through

educational sessions.


Exercises – emergency managers use drills and simulations to determine the

community’s ability to implement the plan.

Mutual aid agreements – emergency managers design procedures to elicit support from

nearby or non-affected communities.

EOC establishment/activation/management – emergency managers build emergency

operations centers and use them to better communicate and coordinate with others.

Decision/policy making – emergency managers make choices about response and

recovery priorities, and they work with political leaders to convey them to the public and

other bureaucrats.

Hazard detection – emergency managers are vigilant of hazards on a 24/7 basis.

Warnings – emergency managers work with others to notify the public about impending,

unfolding or recent hazards.

Evacuation and transportation management/restoration – emergency managers move

people from harm’s way and attempt to rebuild transportation capacity as soon as


Sheltering and mass care – emergency managers find suitable sleeping arrangements and

food for victims who have had to leave their homes.

Search and rescue – emergency managers help to oversee emergency efforts to retrieve

victims trapped in a disaster.

Emergency medical care and epidemiological surveillance – emergency managers

oversee the triage of victims and monitor the spread of disease outbreaks (whether natural

or intentional).

Criminal investigation and prosecution of terrorists – emergency managers work with law

enforcement officials to facilitate the apprehension of terrorists.

Mass fatality management – emergency managers deal with the dead in a respectful


Critical stress management – emergency managers ensure post-traumatic stress reduction

programs are available to victims and emergency responders alike.


Media and public relations – emergency managers share information about the disaster

with reporters and citizens.

Donations management – emergency managers collect and oversee the distribution of

resources after a disaster.

Volunteer management – emergency managers work and collaborate with individuals and

groups that serve without compensation after disasters.

Damage assessment – emergency managers determine the impacts of disasters.

Disaster declarations – emergency managers work with politicians to seek state and

federal assistance.

Debris management – emergency managers collect, store, and dispose of the waste

generated by disasters.

Public and individual assistance – emergency managers work with government leaders to

foster recovery through various disaster aid programs.

Diversity of Stakeholders:

A final way to promote comprehensiveness is to recognize and incorporate all relevant

stakeholders in emergency management. As has been illustrated thus far, there are many issues

and activities that need to be acknowledged and performed under the banner of emergency

management. It is important to remember that an emergency manager does not have to do all

these things. In fact, there will be no way that he or she can perform all of these functions. In

addition, a successful emergency manager always tries to get others involved in disasters to

lighten his or her load and make the community emergency management system stronger. (See

handout on “Participants in Emergency Management”.)

As an example of the complexity of players involved in even a small incident, take a look at this

video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R6iIz3tl5Vw.

Summation: As can be seen, emergency management is a comprehensive profession.

Emergency managers should therefore understand, accept and promote a broad view towards:

Hazards, Vulnerability and impacts, Phases and functions, Participants.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R6iIz3tl5Vw



Canton, Lucian G. (2007). Emergency Management: Concepts and Strategies for Effective

Programs. Wiley: Hoboken, NJ.

Kreps, Gary A. and Thomas E. Drabek. (1996). “Disasters are Non-Routine Social Problems.”

International Journal of Mass Emergencies and Disasters 14: 129-153.

McEntire, David A. (ed.). (2007). Disciplines, Disasters and Emergency Management: The

Convergence and Divergence of Concepts, Issues and Trends from the Research Literature. C.C.

Thomas: Springfield, Il.

McEntire, David A. (2005a). “Revisiting the Definition of ‘Hazard’ and the Important of

Vulnerability.” Journal of Emergency Management 3 (4): 9-11.

McEntire, David A. (2005b). “Why Vulnerability Matters: Exploring the Merit of an Inclusive

Disaster Reduction Concept.” Disaster Prevention and Management 14(2): 206-222.

McEntire, David A., Christopher Fuller, Chad W. Johnston and Richard Weber. (2002). “A

Comparison of Disaster Paradigms: The Search for a Holistic Policy Guide.” Public

Administration Review 62(3): 267-280.

Neal, David M. (1997). “Reconsidering the Phases of Disaster.” International Journal of Mass

Emergencies and Disasters 15(2): 239-264.

Principles of Emergency Management Working Group. 2008. “Emergency Management:

Definition, Vision, Mission, Principles.” Pp.7-17 in Hubbard, Jessica A.(ed.) Emergency

Management in Higher Education: Current Practices and Conversations. PERI: Farifax, VA.

Waugh, William L. Jr., and Kathleen Tierney (eds.). (2007). Emergency Management: Principles

and Practice for Local Government. 2nd Edition. ICMA: Washington, D.C.

Waugh, William L. Jr. (2004). “The All-Hazards Approach Must be Continued.” Journal of

Emergency Management 2 (1): 11-12.



Participants in Emergency Management


Local government

(emergency managers, fire fighters, police officers, public works,

transportation, parks and recreation, public health, engineering, housing,

mayors, county commissioners, city councils, etc.)

State government

(emergency managers, forestry, public safety, transportation, health,

housing, environment, agriculture, insurance, commerce, National Guard,

governor, etc.)

Federal government

(Department of Homeland Security, FEMA, Coast Guard, USDA, DOC,



OSHA, USGS, NOAA/NWS, Inspector General, Congressional

representatives, the president, etc.).






Volunteering and donations


Utility restoration

Business continuity

Transportation companies



American Red Cross

Faith based organizations

Community groups (e.g., United Way, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Rotary Club, etc.)

National Volunteer Organization in Disasters



Emergent groups

This week’s lecture Preview the document discusses why the all‐hazards approach is vital to achieve Comprehensiveness in emergency management. In the lecture, there are listed at least 13 important reasons why this is the case. If you wrote about all-hazards in the Discussion Forum (DF) Assignment, please be sure to write about different aspects of all-hazards than you did in the DF. That is Form W2 work.See attached file EMA 305

Prepare a 3 page reflection paper (double spaced, APA format, NOT including title page and reference list) which addresses at least 4 of these reasons. In addition to the information provided in the course material, include (and appropriately cite) at least one outside source in support of your discussion.