Definitions

A glossary of terminology used in emergency management.

After Action Report (AAR): A comprehensive report that details the response effectiveness to a particular incident or exercise, specifically itemizing lessons learned and recommended revisions to plans and training.

Area Command: An organization established to oversee the management of multiple incidents that are each being handled by a separate Incident Command System organization or to oversee the management of a very large or evolving incident that has multiple incident management teams engaged. An agency administrator/executive or other public official with jurisdictional responsibility for the incident usually makes the decision to establish an Area Command. An Area Command is activated only if necessary, depending on the complexity of the incident and incident management span-of-control considerations.5

Crisis: A short period of extreme danger.

Damage assessment: The process of identifying and documenting the extent of physical damage that a natural or man-made disaster has caused to buildings and/or property.

Demobilization: The orderly, safe, and efficient return of an incident resource to its original location and status.

Disaster: A large scale calamity that requires immediate action. May result in significant loss, damage, or destruction. An emergency that has gotten out of control.

Emergency: A serious, unexpected, and often dangerous situation requiring immediate action.

Emergency management/response personnel: Includes Federal, State, territorial, tribal, sub-state regional, and local governments, private-sector organizations, critical infrastructure owners and operators, nongovernmental organizations, and all other organizations and individuals who assume an emergency management role. Also known as emergency responders.

Emergency Operations Center (EOC): The physical location at which the coordination of information and resources to support incident management (on-scene operations) activities normally takes place. An EOC may be a temporary facility or may be located in a more central or permanently established facility, perhaps at a higher level of organization within a jurisdiction. EOCs may be organized by major functional disciplines (e.g., fire, law enforcement, and medical services), by jurisdiction (e.g., Federal, State, regional, tribal, city, and county), or some combination thereof.

Emergency Operations Plan (EOP): An all-hazards document that specifies actions to be taken in the event of an emergency or disaster event; identifies authorities, relationships, and the actions to be taken by whom, what, when, and where, based on predetermined assumptions, objectives, and existing capabilities.

Emergency plan: The emergency plan documents the emergency management program and describes the provisions for response to an Operational Emergency. It contains a brief, clear, and concise description of the overall emergency organization, designation of responsibilities, and procedures, including notifications, involved in coping with any or all aspects of a potential credible operational emergency.

Emergency Support Function (ESF): A functional area of response activity established to facilitate the delivery of federal assistance required during the immediate response phase of a disaster to save lives, protect property and public health, and maintain public safety. ESFs represent those types of federal assistance that the state will most likely need because of the overwhelming impact of a catastrophic or significant disaster on its own resources and response capabilities, or because of the specialized or unique nature of the assistance required. ESF missions are designed to supplement state and local response efforts.

Hazard: A natural, technological, or social phenomenon that poses a threat.

Hazardous materials (HAZMAT): Any material that is explosive, flammable, poisonous, corrosive, reactive, or radioactive (or any combination) and requires special care in handling because of the hazards posed to public health, safety, and/or the environment.

Incident: An event, accidentally or deliberately caused, that requires a response.

Incident Action Plan (IAP): An oral or written plan containing general objectives reflecting the overall strategy for managing an incident. It may include the identification of operational resources and assignments. It may also include attachments that provide direction and important information for management of the incident during one or more operational periods.

Incident Commander (IC): ICS term for the person, usually from the local jurisdiction, who is responsible for overall management of an incident.

Incident Command System (ICS): A standardized on-scene emergency management concept specifically designed to allow its users to adopt an integrated organizational structure equal to the complexity and demands of single or multiple incidents, without hindrance by jurisdictional boundaries.

Incident management: The broad spectrum of activities and organizations providing effective and efficient operations, coordination, and support applied at all levels of government, utilizing both governmental and nongovernmental resources to plan for, respond to, and recover from an incident, regardless of cause, size, or complexity.

Low Lying Area: An area that frequently floods, even from mild rain.

Mitigation: Those activities designed to alleviate the effects of a major disaster or emergency or long-term activities to minimize the potentially adverse effects of future disaster in affected areas.

Mobilization: The process and procedures used by all organizations—Federal, State, tribal, and local— for activating, assembling, and transporting all resources that have been requested to respond to or support an incident.

Multiagency Coordination (MAC) Group: A group of administrators or executives, or their appointed representatives, that is typically authorized to commit agency resources and funds. A MAC Group can provide coordinated decision-making and resource allocation among cooperating agencies and may establish the priorities among incidents, harmonize agency policies, and provide strategic guidance and direction to support incident management activities. MAC Groups may also be known as multiagency committees, emergency management committees, or as otherwise defined by the Multiagency Coordination System.

Multiagency Coordination System (MACS): A system that provides the architecture to support coordination for incident prioritization, critical resource allocation, communications systems integration, and information coordination. The MACS assists agencies and organizations responding to an incident. The elements of a MACS include facilities, equipment, personnel, procedures, and communications. Two of the most commonly used elements are Emergency Operations Centers and MAC Groups.

Mutual aid or Assistance agreement: Written or oral agreement between and among agencies/organizations and/or jurisdictions that provides a mechanism to quickly obtain emergency assistance in the form of personnel, equipment, materials, and other associated services. The primary objective is to facilitate rapid, short-term deployment of emergency support prior to, during, and/or after an incident.

National Incident Management System (NIMS): A set of principles that provides a systematic, proactive approach guiding government agencies at all levels, nongovernmental organizations, and the private sector to work seamlessly to prevent, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate the effects of incidents, regardless of cause, size, location, or complexity, in order to reduce the loss of life or property and harm to the environment.

National Response Framework (NRF): A guide to how the United States conducts all hazards response.

Operational period: The time scheduled for executing a given set of operation actions, as specified in the Incident Action Plan. Operational periods can be of various lengths, although usually they last 12 to 24 hours.

Span of control: The number of resources for which a supervisor is responsible, usually expressed as the ratio of supervisors to individuals. (Under the National Incident Management System, an appropriate span of control is between 1:3 and 1:7, with optimal being 1:5; or between 1:8 and 1:10 for many largescale law enforcement operations.)

Standard operating guidelines: A set of instructions having the force of a directive, covering those features of operations which lend themselves to a definite or standardized procedure without loss of effectiveness.

Standard Operating Procedure (SOP): A complete reference document or an operations manual that provides the purpose, authorities, duration, and details for the preferred method of performing a single function or a number of interrelated functions in a uniform manner.

Tabletop Exercise (TTE): An activity in which key personnel assigned emergency management roles and responsibilities are gathered in a nonthreatening environment to discuss various simulated emergency situations.

Unified Area Command: Version of command established when incidents under an Area Command are multijurisdictional. See Area Command.