Emergency management is not just limited to “lights and sirens” response. Emergency management involves the work a community does to prepare for, respond to, and recover from emergencies. To describe this functionally, emergency managers:
The above functions describe the four phases of emergency management. An emergency manager is rarely ever performing functions exclusively in one phase. These phases outline a process emergency managers follow to address the issues affecting emergency preparedness and response.
Emergency management is not a replacement for the police, fire, EMS, American Red Cross, or other community emergency response agencies. Emergency Management is a system for coordinating and managing emergency response when more than one department is responding to a community threat.
Emergency response is handled at the local level whenever possible. When local resources are inadequate, or it is evident they will not meet the needs of an emergency, a request for assistance is made through normal mutual aid avenues. When these mutual aid resources are also inadequate, a request is made to Dane County Emergency Management (DCEM) for additional aid to meet the needs created by the emergency.
DCEM also coordinates inter-jurisdictional assistance. When a disaster extends beyond the normal mutual aid boundaries in a community, or when multiple communities are involved, DCEM plays a lead role in coordinating the response. The Dane County Emergency Operations Center (DCEOC) is the focal point for information and coordination of resources in emergencies. DCEM supports DCEOC operations and the county level agencies operating in the DCEOC. DCEM is also the link to state agencies.
If an emergency exceeds the capabilities of both municipalities and Dane County resources, DCEM contacts Wisconsin Emergency Management (WEM) to request state assistance. WEM operates and maintains the State Emergency Operating Center (SEOC). WEM coordinates the allocation of State resources and may coordinate activities between counties. In an emergency, representatives of key state agencies meet in the (SEOC).
It is important to remember that there is not a one-size-fits-all process to address all emergencies. Flexibility, innovation, and improvisation are traits that should be reflected in all emergency management practices and procedures. These traits are developed and enhanced by an emergency manager’s knowledge of hazards in and impacts on their community, emergency management processes, training, and experience. DCEM can provide planning guidance and models, connect local emergency managers with training courses and workshops, and provide general support to local emergency management efforts.