INTRODUCTION TO EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT
This chapter provides an overview that describes the basic types of hazards threatening the United States and provides definitions for some basic terms such as hazards, emergencies, and disasters. The chapter also provides a brief history of emergency management in the federal government and a general description of the current emergency management system—including the basic functions performed by local emergency managers. The chapter concludes with a discussion of the all-hazards approach and its implications for local emergency management.
Introduction There are many ways to describe emergency management and the importance of the tasks emergency managers perform. Indeed, in
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As Mileti (1999) writes in Disasters by Design, the increasing numbers of humans, our settlement patterns, the density with which we pack together, and our choices of location for homes, work, and recreation place more of us at risk and, when disasters occur, exact an increasing toll. The pattern observed among technological disasters is somewhat different. Certainly more people are affected by technological threats simply because there are more people, and we often make unfortunate choices (as was the case with natural hazards) about our proximity to known technological hazards. However, the nature of the threat from technological sources also appears to be changing. The potential for human loss from technological sources increases with the growth and change of existing technologies and with the development of new technologies. For example, risks are rising from the increasing quantity and variety of hazardous materials used in industry, as well as from energy technologies such as coal and nuclear power plants and liquefied natural gas facilities. Such facilities and the processes they use pose a variety of risks for both employees who work in the facilities and those who live in nearby neighborhoods. Furthermore, as technologies develop it is sometimes found that what was thought not to be hazardous a decade ago does, in fact, have deleterious effects upon health, safety, and the environment.