Disaster Terminology and Definitions

Acceptable Risk – that level of risk (likelihood of occurrence and consequence of impact) for any activity or situation that is sufficiently low that society (or an organization within society that is managing the risk) is comfortable with it. Society (and an individual organization) does not generally consider expenditure in further reducing such risks as justifiable (Adapted from Australian National 1994).

Accreditation – empowerment provided to an organization through legislation, statute or regulation from an appropriate local, state, tribal or federal government agency authorizing the organization to credential personnel for incidents in which the organization participates. According to the National Incident Management System (NIMS) Integration Center, accreditation refers to the “empowerment of certifying/qualifying organizations with the authority to declare an individual capable of performing critical tasks and capabilities.”

Act of God – an unintentional hazard event (usually a natural hazard) whereby society feels that no individual or organization is responsible for the hazard occurrence or its impact, i.e., an “accident.”

Action Plans – written or verbal plans that reflect the overall incident goal (control objectives) and incident strategy, objectives for the designated operational period, specific tactical actions and assignments, and supporting information for the designated operational period. They provide designated personnel with knowledge of the objectives to be achieved and the strategy and steps to be used for achievement, hence improving coordination across different levels of government and intrastate jurisdictional borders.

Activate – to begin the process of mobilizing a response team, or to set in motion an emergency response or recovery plan, process, or procedure for an exercise or for an actual hazard incident.

Activation – a notification category that provides urgent information about an unusual occurrence or threat of occurrence, and orders or recommends that the notified entity activate its emergency response (usually via its emergency operations plan).

Advisory – a notification category that provides urgent information about an unusual occurrence or threat of an occurrence, but no

Alert – a notification category between “advisory” and “activation” that provides urgent information and indicates that system action may be necessary. An alert can be used for initial notification that incident activation is likely, and for ongoing notification throughout an incident to convey incident information and direct or recommend actions.

AllHazards – a descriptor that denotes a specific strategy for managing activities in an emergency management program by addressing the six (6) Critical Areas of Emergency Management including communications, resources and assets, safety and security, staff responsibilities, utilities and patient/clinical support activities.

Analysis – a method of studying the nature of something or determining its essential features and their relationships.

Antiterrorism – defensive measures used to reduce the vulnerability of individuals, forces, and property from terrorist acts; actions designed to prevent attacks on citizens, facilities, and other assets.

Approach, AllHazards – a strategy (see All‐Hazards) that addresses the commonalities of incident identification, assessment, and response to natural, technological, and intentional hazards. It provides a common emergency operations plan for use in response to and recovery from all emergencies and disasters. Area Command An organization established to: (1) Oversee the management of multiple incidents that are each being handled by an ICS organization; or (2) Oversee the management of large or multiple incidents to which several Incident Management Teams have been assigned.

Area Command – has the responsibility to set overall strategy and priorities, allocate critical resources according to priorities, ensure that incidents are properly managed, and ensure that objectives are met and strategies followed. Area Command may be established at an emergency operations center facility or at some location other than an incident command post (NIMS).

Assessment – the evaluation and interpretation of measurements and other information to provide a basis for decision‐making.

Assessment, Needs – a specific form of evaluation, distinct from performance evaluation, that focuses upon “needs” rather than upon system performance. It is conducted with commonly used evaluation methodology: surveys, interviews, meeting reports and others.

Assignments – tasks given to resources to perform within a given operational period that are based on operational objectives defined in the Incident Action Plan (IAP).

Avian Influenza – influenza viruses that occur naturally among wild birds. Low pathogenic Avian Influenza is common in birds and causes few problems. Highly pathogenic H5N1 is deadly to domestic fowl, can be transmitted from birds to humans, and is deadly to humans. There is virtually no human immunity, and human vaccine availability is very limited.

Benchmark – similar to a “standard,” but more broadly described and, consequently, less specific and objectively measurable.

Blizzard – violent winter storm, lasting at least three hours, which combines below freezing temperatures and very strong wind laden with blowing snow that reduces visibility to less than 1 km.

Business Continuity Program – an ongoing process supported by senior management and funded to ensure that the necessary steps are taken to identify the impact of potential losses, maintain viable recovery strategies and recovery plans, and ensure continuity of services through personnel training, plan testing and maintenance.

Casualty – any human accessing health or medical services, including mental health services and medical forensics/mortuary care (for fatalities), as a result of a hazard impact.

Catastrophe – an event in which a society incurs, or is threatened to incur, such losses to persons and/or property that the entire society is affected by, and therefore extraordinary resources and skills are required, some of which must come from other nations. (Drabek 1996)

Certification – certification “entails authoritatively attesting that individuals meet professional standards for the training, experience, and performance required for key incident management functions.” (NIMS). “Certification, in other words, involves measuring an individual’s competence through a testing or evaluation process. Personnel are certified by their discipline’s relevant certifying authority.” In Incident Command System (ICS), the term certification may also be applied to equipment (verifying its appropriateness and adequacy for the intended use).

Chain of Command – a series of command, control, executive, or management positions in hierarchical order of authority.

Checklist – written (or computerized) enumeration of actions to be taken by an individual or organization meant to aid memory rather than provide detailed instruction.

Chief – the ICS title for individuals responsible for management of functional sections: Operations, Planning, Logistics, Finance/Administration, and Intelligence (if established as a separate section).

Civil Disturbances – group acts of violence and disorders prejudicial to public law and order; within the 50 States, District of Columbia, Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, U.S. possessions and territories, or any political subdivision thereof.

Civil Emergency – any natural or manmade disaster or emergency that causes or could cause substantial harm to the population or infrastructure. This term can include a “major disaster” or “emergency” as those terms are defined in the Stafford Act, as amended, as well as consequences of an attack or a national security emergency.

Command Post (CP) – an ad hoc location established at or as near as possible to a disaster site, from which the Incident Commander (IC) functions. It contains the command, control, coordination and communications elements necessary to direct and manage the initial response to the event.

Command Staff – in an incident management organization, the Command Staff consists of the Incident Commander and the special staff positions of Public Information Officer, Safety Officer, Liaison Officer, and other positions as required, who report directly to the Incident Commander. Communications A focused process that is narrow but vital component of Information Management, referring only to the method(s) of conveying information.

Communications Unit – an organizational unit in the Logistics Section responsible for providing communication services at an incident or an Emergency Operations Center (EOC). A Communications Unit may also be a facility (e.g., a trailer or mobile van) used to support an Incident Communications Center.

Community – a political entity that has the authority to adopt and enforce laws and ordinances for the area under its jurisdiction. In most cases, the community is an incorporated town, city, township, village, or unincorporated area of a county.

Competency – a specific knowledge element, skill, and/or ability that is objective and measurable (i.e., demonstrable) on the job. It is required for effective performance within the context of a job’s responsibilities, and leads to achieving the objectives of the organization.

Contamination – the undesirable deposition of a chemical, biological, or radiological material on the surface of structures, areas, objects, or people. Contingency A future event that is likely but not certain to happen. The consequences of the occurrence are such that one must address the likelihood of occurrence and the projected impact if it occurs.

Continuity of Operations Program (COOP) – the collective activities of individual departments, agencies and facilities and their sub‐components to ensure that their essential functions are performed during a crisis or disaster.

Continuity Planning – an internal effort within an organization to assure that the capability exists to continue essential business and service functions across a wide range of potential emergencies, including localized acts of nature, accidents, and technological and/or attack/terrorist‐related emergencies. Accordingly, an effective Emergency Management program for healthcare systems not only addresses the four phases of mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery, but also includes continuity planning activities to ensure that mission critical business operations, patient care services, and ancillary and support functions would continue with little or no interruption.

Cooperative Assistance – mutual aid or other assistance during emergencies and disasters that is provided through an arrangement that includes reimbursement of costs to the assisting organization. Coordinate To advance systematically an analysis and exchange of information among principals who have or may have a need to know certain information to carry out specific incident management responsibilities.

Credentialing – according to the NIMS: “Credentialing involves providing documentation that can authenticate and verify the certification and identity of designated incident command staff and emergency responders. This system helps ensure that personnel representing various jurisdictional levels and functional disciplines possess a minimum common level of training, currency, experience, physical and medical fitness, and capability for the incident management or emergency responder position they are tasked to fill.”

Critical Systems – systems so vital that their incapacitation or destruction would have serious impact upon a medical center’s ability to continue to provide patient care or other essential services.

Damage Assessment – an appraisal or determination of the effects of the disaster on human, physical, economic, and natural resources.

Decontamination – the reduction or removal of a chemical, biological, or radiological material from the surface of a structure, area, object, or person.

Demobilization – the ICS/IMS phase that begins the transition of Management, Operations, and Support functions and elements from the incident activities back to normal operations or to their baseline standby state as their operational objectives are attained.

Disaster (Emergency Management Application) – a hazard impact causing adverse physical, social, psychological, economic or political effects that challenges the ability to rapidly and effectively respond. Despite a stepped up capacity and capability (call‐ back procedures, mutual aid, etc.) and change from routine management methods to an incident command/management process, the outcome is lower than expected compared to a smaller scale or lower magnitude impact.

Drill – a training application that develops a combination or series of skills (for example, a drill of mobilizing the decontamination area). A drill conducted primarily for evaluation rather than training should be referred to as an “evaluative drill.”

Education – education is instruction, structured to achieve specific competency‐ based objectives, that imparts primarily knowledge. This may be general knowledge, or it may be job specific but extend to “higher order” knowledge (for example, understanding the “big picture,” or working under stress) not specifically included in one’s job description but of great value during emergency management activities. Educational material should be competency – based and specify a level of proficiency that relates to the competencies (“awareness, operations, or expert”).

Emergency (Emergency Management Application) – a hazard impact causing adverse physical, social, psychological, economic or political effects that challenges the ability to rapidly and effectively respond. It requires a stepped up capacity and capability (call‐back procedures, mutual aid, etc.) to meet the expected outcome, and commonly requires change from routine management methods to an incident command/management process in order to achieve the expected outcome. Absent a Presidentially‐declared emergency, any incident(s), human‐ caused or natural, that requires responsive action to protect life or property. Under the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, an emergency means any occasion or instance for which, in the determination of the President, Federal assistance is needed to supplement State and local efforts and capabilities to save lives and to protect property and public health and safety, or to lessen or avert the threat of a catastrophe in any part of the United States.

Emergency Management Program – a program that implements the organization’s mission, vision, management framework and strategic goals and objectives related to emergencies and disasters. It uses a comprehensive approach to emergency management as a conceptual framework, combining mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery into a fully integrated set of activities. The “program” applies to all departments and organizational units within the organization that have roles in responding to a potential emergency.

Emergency Management Team – a term that can be used to describe the management unit that operates at the EOC and is responsible for all Emergency Management Operations during an incident (this is distinct from an “incident management team” that is operating at the incident command post). These responsibilities encompass: 1. Directly supporting the Incident Management Team (IMT). 2. Directly managing emergency issues (or delegating the management) related to the incident but outside the defined scope of the Incident Management Team.

Emergency Management – the science of managing complex systems and multidisciplinary personnel to address emergencies and disasters, across all hazards, and through the phases of mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery. Organized analysis, planning, decision‐making, and assignment of available resources to mitigate (lessen the effect of or prevent) prepare for, respond to, and recover from the effects of all hazards. The goal of emergency management is to save lives, prevent injuries, and protect property and the environment if an emergency occurs.

Emergency Operations Center (EOC) – the physical location at which the coordination of information and resources to support domestic incident management activities normally takes place. An Emergency Operations Center (EOC) may be a temporary facility or may be located in a more central or permanently established facility. An EOC is a location from which centralized emergency management can be performed during response and recovery. The use of EOCs is a standard practice in emergency management and is one type of multiagency coordinating entity. The physical size, staffing, and equipping of a local government EOC will depend on the size and complexity of the facility and the emergency operations it can expect to manage. The level of EOC staffing will also vary with the specific emergency situation. An EOC should be capable of serving as the central point for: o Coordination of all emergency operations o Information gathering and dissemination of Coordination with local governments and the operational area.

Emergency Operations Plan (EOP) – the “response” plan that an entity maintains for responding to any hazard event. It provides action guidance for management and emergency response personnel during the response phase of Comprehensive Emergency Management. 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 Preparedness – activities and measures designed or undertaken to prepare for or minimize the effects of a hazard upon the civilian population, to deal with the immediate emergency conditions which would be created by the hazard, and to effectuate emergency repairs to, or the emergency restoration of, vital utilities and facilities destroyed or damaged by the hazard.

Emergency Preparedness Committee (EPC) – a committee established by the facility that has the responsibility for Emergency Management Plan (EMP) oversight within the organization. As such, the committee would normally have the responsibility to ensure the overall preparation, implementation, evaluation and currency of the EMP. Emergency Management Operations A term that can be used to denote the activities that occur during the response phase of an emergency event, based at the EOC and managed and directed by an Emergency Management Team. Emergency Management Operations include management of the EOC and activities administered by the Emergency Support Functions. Emergency Management Operations (EMO) are intended to support the incident management team and the incident response, address countywide incident‐related issues that are outside the scope of the incident management team, support the coordination with other jurisdictions and levels of government, and assist with keeping political authorities adequately informed.

Essential Functions – functions required to be performed by statute, Executive Order, or otherwise deemed essential by the heads of principal organizational components to meet mission requirements.

Evacuation – organized, phased, and supervised withdrawal, dispersal or removal of civilians from dangerous or potentially dangerous areas, and their reception and care in safe areas.

Event – this term has multiple definitions depending upon the context in which it is used: A planned, non‐emergency activity. ICS can be used as the management system for a wide range of events, e.g., parades, concerts, or sporting events. A future activity that will include the activation of an ICS organization. An event can be used to differentiate “any unusual activity” from an “incident,” where an Emergency Operations Plan (EOP) and its response system are activated and ICS is implemented.

Exercise – a scripted, scenario‐based activity designed to evaluate the system’s capabilities and capacity to achieve overall and individual functional objectives, and to demonstrate the competencies for relevant response and recovery positions. The purpose of exercise evaluation is to determine a valid indication of future system performance under similar conditions, and to identify potential system improvements.

Exercise, FullScale – a scenario‐based extension of a functional exercise to include all or most of the functions and complex activities of the EOP. It is typically conducted under high levels of stress and very real‐time constraints of an actual incident. Interaction across all functions by the players decreases the artificial (oral) injects by controllers, and make the overall scenario much more realistic. Because of this, the full‐scale exercise is a more comprehensive evaluation/validation of the EOP, its policies and procedures, in the context of emergency conditions.

Exercise, Functional – the scenario‐based execution of specific tasks and/or more complex activity within a functional area of the EOP. This is typically conducted under increased levels of stress and genuine constraints that provide increased realism, and so is less reliant upon orally presented simulation. Collaboration and cooperation and interactive decision‐ making are more focused within the exercised function and accomplished in real‐time. Interaction with other functions and “outside” personnel are simulated, commonly through the play of exercise controllers.

Exercise, Tabletop – a scenario‐based discussion that permits evaluation of the EOP and/or Recovery Plan, or elements thereof, through oral interaction and application of plan guidance. This is accomplished using minimal or no physical activity, hence the descriptor “table‐top.” It is used to have individuals and teams describe their roles and responsibilities through a presented scenario, and to evaluate the performance of these roles and responsibilities in a relatively low stress environment. Through the use of simulation techniques, emphasis is placed on collaboration and cooperation, decision‐making and team building in the context of a specified scenario. This format allows a significant amount of comment and coaching from the facilitator(s).

Exposure (Risk & Emergency Management Application) – the condition of being subjected to a source of risk.

Finance/Administration – the ICS functional area that addresses the financial, administrative, and legal/regulatory issues for the incident management system. It monitors costs related to the incident, and provides accounting, procurement, time recording, cost analyses, and overall fiscal guidance.

First Receivers – employees at a hospital engaged in decontamination and treatment of victims who have been contaminated by a hazardous substance(s) during an emergency incident. The incident occurs at a site other than the hospital. These employees are a subset of first responders. Because the personnel are located remote from the hazardous materials event site and are receiving live victims, their Hazardous Material (HAZMAT) exposure may be less than that of HAZMAT first responders at the incident site.

First Responder See “Responder, First.”

Four Phases – the time and function‐based divisions within Comprehensive Emergency Management: Mitigation, Preparedness, Response and Recovery.

Function – Function refers to the five major activities in ICS: Command, Operations, Planning, Logistics, and Finance/Administration. The term function is also used when describing the activity involved, e.g., the planning function. In the Incident Command System, refers to the five major activities (i.e., Command, Operations, Plans/Information, Logistics, and Finance/Administration). The term function is also used when describing the activity involved (e.g., the planning function).

Functional Area – a major grouping of the similar tasks that agencies perform in carrying out incident management activities. These are usually all or part of one of five ICS sections (command, operations, logistics, plans, and finance/administration)

Hazard – a potential or actual force, physical condition, or agent with the ability to cause human injury, illness and/or death, and significant damage to property, the environment, critical infrastructure, agriculture and business operations, and other types of harm or loss. Something that is potentially dangerous or harmful, often the root cause of an unwanted outcome.

Hazard Analysis – involves identifying all of the hazards that potentially threaten a jurisdiction [and/or the organization that is performing the hazard analysis] and analyzing them in the context of the jurisdiction to determine the degree of threat that is posed by each.

Hazard Mitigation – measures taken in advance of a disaster aimed at decreasing or eliminating its impact on society and environment.

Hazard Probability – the estimated likelihood that a hazard will occur in a particular area. Hazard Risk A quantitative product of the probability of a hazard occurring and the projected consequence of the impact.

Hazard Types

  • Natural Hazard ‐ Any hazard produced primarily by forces of nature that result in human or property impact of sufficient severity to be deemed an emergency. Natural hazards include hurricane, tornado, storm, flood, high water, wind‐driven water, tidal wave, earthquake, drought, fire, infectious disease epidemic, or others.
  • Technological Hazard ‐ A hazard created primarily by manmade technology or unplanned and non‐malicious actions, which result in human or property impact of sufficient severity to be deemed an emergency. Technological hazards include industrial, nuclear or transportation accidents, unintentional natural gas and other explosions, conflagration, building collapse from primary structural failure (insufficient supports during construction or renovation, corrosion or other predictable materials deterioration, overload of structural elements, etc.), power failure, financial and resource shortage, oil and other hazardous materials spills and other injury‐ threatening environmental contamination. (Note interface between technological, natural, and intentional origins: a structural collapse secondary to an earthquake is a natural hazard emergency; one secondary to a deliberate methane explosion is an intentional hazard emergency; one secondary to construction error is a technological hazard emergency).
  • Intentional Hazard – a hazard produced primarily by threatened or executed intentional actions, threatening or resulting in human or property impact of sufficient severity to be deemed an emergency. Intentional hazards cover a very wide range of forces (chemical, biological, radiations, incendiary and explosive, cyber, disruption of services or products, and others). The intent may be sabotage, criminal actions, conflict and civil disobedience or disturbance, or acts of terrorism.

Hazard Vulnerability Analysis (HVA) – a systematic approach to identifying all hazards that may affect an organization and/or its community, assessing the risk (probability of hazard occurrence and the consequence for the organization) associated with each hazard and analyzing the findings to create a prioritized comparison of hazard vulnerabilities. The consequence, or “vulnerability,” is related to both the impact on organizational function and the likely service demands created by the hazard impact.

Hazardous Material (HAZMAT) Any material which 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.

Health Insurance Portability & Accountability Act (HIPAA) – Public Law 104‐191 (August 21, 1996) addresses many aspects of healthcare practice and medical records. This federal act most notably addresses the privacy of personal health information, and directs the development of specific parameters as to how personal health information may be shared.

Heat Wave – marked warming of the air, or the invasion of very warm air, over a large area; it usually lasts from a few days to a few weeks.

Homeland Security – a concerted national effort to prevent terrorist attacks within the United States, reduce America’s vulnerability to terrorism, and minimize the damage and recover from attacks that do occur.”

Ice Storm – intense formation of ice on objects by the freezing, on impact, of rain or drizzle.

Incident – an unexpected occurrence that requires immediate response actions through an ICS organization. Activity resulting from an actual or impending hazard impact that requires action by emergency personnel to prevent or minimize loss of life or damage to property and/or natural resources. For organizations other than public safety agencies, this action is generally beyond the normal everyday actions of the organization. The emergency action is managed through the Incident Command System. An occurrence or event, natural or human‐caused that requires an emergency response to protect life or property. Incidents can, for example, include major disasters, emergencies, terrorist attacks, terrorist threats, wild land and urban fires, floods, hazardous materials spills, nuclear accidents, aircraft accidents, earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, tropical storms, war‐related disasters, public health and medical emergencies, and other occurrences requiring an emergency response. “Under the ICS concept, an incident is an occurrence, either human‐ caused or by natural phenomena, that requires action by emergency service personnel to prevent or minimize loss of life or damage to property and/or natural resources.”

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. The document in ICS/IMS that guides the response for that operational period. It contains the overall incident objectives and strategy, general tactical actions and supporting information to enable successful completion of objectives. The IAP may be oral or written. When written, the IAP may have a number of supportive plans and information as attachments (e.g., traffic plan, safety plan, communications plan, and maps). There is only one “incident action plan” at an incident, all other “action plans” are subsets of the IAP and their titles should be qualified accordingly (for example, the water purification action plan).

Incident Command Post (ICP) – a facility established close to the incident scene (or elsewhere for a diffuse incident or one with multiple scenes); which, serves as a base location for managing “field operations” – all activities within the defined scope of the “incident.” Located within the ICP are designated representatives of the major response agencies for that incident, filling designated positions in the Incident Management Team. The ICP location is designated by the Incident Commander. If the ICP and EOC are co‐located in the same building, their personnel and procedures should remain physically separated and functionally distinct.

Incident Command System (ICS) – a standardized on‐scene emergency management construct specifically designed to provide for the adoption of an integrated organizational structure that reflects the complexity and demands of single or multiple incidents, without being hindered by jurisdictional boundaries. ICS is the combination of facilities, equipment, personnel, procedures, and communications operating within a common organizational structure, designed to aid in the management of resources during incidents. It is used for all kinds of emergencies and is applicable to small as well as large and complex incidents. ICS is used by various jurisdictions and functional agencies, both public and private, to organize field‐level incident management operations. 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 being hindered by jurisdictional boundaries.

Incident Commander (IC) – the individual responsible for all incident activities, including the development of strategies and tactics and the ordering and the release of resources. The IC has overall authority and responsibility for conducting incident operations and is responsible for the management of all incident operations at the incident site.

Incident Management System (IMS) – in disaster/emergency management applications, the combination of facilities, equipment, personnel, procedures, and communications operating within a common organizational structure with responsibility for the management of assigned resources to effectively accomplish stated objectives pertaining to an incident.

Incident Recognition – the first stage of Response. Incident recognition is the process that identifies an “anomaly” (independently or through communication from others), develops a situational assessment of the anomaly and related details, and determines whether an “incident response” by the organization may be indicated.

Incident Response – activities that support the incident management process, including developing the incident action plan and support plans and accomplishing incident information processing. This is in contrast to preparedness planning, which is designed to ready a system for response.

Incident Response – the The term used to indicate the management and operational actions conducted to address an impending hazard threat and/or actual hazard impact. It connotes a condition that is larger or more complex than the usual organizational actions, and that is usually accomplished by activating the organization’s Emergency Operations Plan. Incident response requires a management system (usually the Incident Command System under NIMS) that is commonly different than everyday management and everyday response, even in an everyday “emergency” organization such as fire or police.

Incident Review (IR) – a brief review of the event conducted with the relevant section leaders and other response personnel (as appropriate). This is conducted as soon as possible after the event, with a primary goal of clearing up any misunderstandings and providing relevant parties with a more complete picture of “what happened and why.” This “IR” is distinct from the formal After‐Action Review (usually conducted at a later time) that serves to capture valuable information for EOP improvement.

Information (or Cyber) Security – actions taken for the purpose of reducing information system risk, specifically, reducing the probability that a threat will succeed in exploiting critical Automated Information System infrastructure vulnerabilities using electronic, radio frequency (RF) or computer‐ based means.

Information Management – the process of gathering, sharing, and distributing information and intelligence to help effectively manage the incident. Some information may be considered sensitive and cannot be shared or may be distributed on a limited basis at the discretion of the Incident Commander.

Lifesafety – in emergency response, this indicates safety issues that are important in preventing injury or death for exposed responders or victims during an incident.

Lightning – luminous manifestation accompanying a sudden electrical discharge which takes place from or inside a cloud or, less often, from high structures on the ground or from mountains.

Logistics – providing resources and other services to support incident management. Logistics Section: The [ICS] section responsible for providing facilities, services, and material support for the incident.

Mass Casualty Incident (MCI) – a casualty‐creating hazard incident in which the available organizational and medical resources (both “first” and “second response”), or their management systems, are severely challenged or become insufficient to adequately meet the medical needs of the affected population. Insufficient management, response, or support capability or capacity can result in increased morbidity and mortality among the impacted population. “Mass casualty” equates to a “disaster,” whereas “multiple casualty incident” equates to an “emergency.”

Measures, Outcome – an outcome is the actual final performance of the system for the circumstances in which the system is being used. The outcomes may be goods and/or services. Outcomes in an emergency management program are defined by the overall system’s goals and objectives.

Medical Director – the person who oversees medical services, consults on revisions to revisions to residents’ plan of care and is responsible for emergency medical management of residents, staff and visitors as needed. The medical director is also available to consult medical, biological / infectious and/or hazardous material implications related to the incident.

Mission Critical Systems – the combination of personnel, facilities, equipment, supplies and operating systems vital for an organization to accomplish its mission.

Mitigation – the phase of Comprehensive Emergency Management that encompasses all activities that reduce or eliminate the probability of a hazard occurrence, or eliminate or reduce the impact from the hazard if it should occur. In comprehensive emergency management, mitigation activities are undertaken during the time period prior to an imminent or actual hazard impact. Once an imminent or actual hazard impact is recognized, subsequent actions are considered response actions and are not called “mitigation” ‐ this avoids the confusion that occurs with the HAZMAT discipline’s use of mitigation, which applies to response actions that reduce the impact of a hazardous materials spill. Includes activities taken to eliminate or reduce the probability of the event, or reduce its severity or consequences, either prior to or following a disaster/emergency. Mitigation is also the activities designed to reduce or eliminate risks to persons or property or to lessen the actual or potential effects or consequences of an incident. Mitigation measures may be implemented prior to, during, or after an incident. Mitigation measures are often informed by lessons learned from prior incidents. Mitigation involves ongoing actions to reduce exposure to, probability of, or potential loss from hazards. Measures may include zoning and building codes, floodplain buyouts, and analysis of hazard‐ related data to determine where it is safe to build or locate temporary facilities. Mitigation can include efforts to educate governments, businesses, and the public on measures they can take to reduce loss and injury.

Mobilization – activities and procedures carried out that ready an asset to perform incident operations according to the EOP. During the response phase of CEM, it is the stage that transitions functional elements from a state of inactivity or normal operations to their designated response state. This activity may occur well into the response phase, as additional assets are brought on line or as surge processes are instituted to meet demands.

Mutual Aid – voluntary aid and assistance by the provision of services and facilities including but not limited to: fire, police, medical and health, communications, transportation, and utilities. Mutual aid is intended to provide adequate resources, facilities, and other support to jurisdictions whenever their own resources prove to be inadequate to cope with a given situation. Some authorities differentiate “mutual aid” from “cooperative assistance,” where the assisting resources are compensated for their response costs. Other authorities designate this as “compensated mutual aid.”

MutualAid Agreement – written agreement between agencies and/or jurisdictions that they will assist one another on request, by furnishing personnel, equipment, and/or expertise in a specified manner. A pre‐arranged agreement developed between two or more entities to render assistance to the parties of the agreement.

National Incident Management System (NIMS) – a system mandated by HSPD‐5 that provides a consistent nationwide approach for Federal, State, local, and tribal governments; the private‐ sector, and nongovernmental organizations to work effectively and efficiently together to prepare for, respond to, and recover from domestic incidents, regardless of cause, size, or complexity. To provide for interoperability and compatibility among Federal, State, local, and tribal capabilities, the NIMS includes a core set of concepts, principles, and terminology. HSPD‐5 identifies these as the ICS; multiagency coordination systems; training; identification and management of resources (including systems for classifying types of resources); qualification and certification; and the collection, tracking, and reporting of incident information and incident resources.

Needs Assessment – a specific form of evaluation, distinct from performance evaluation, that focuses upon “needs” rather than upon system performance. It is performed with commonly used evaluation methodology: surveys, interviews, meeting reports and others. These may take place both for programmatic as well as response and recovery purposes. Needs assessments are commonly performed during the conceptualization phase of program development or radical revision (“identifying the specific needs that a program should address”) or during response and recovery, when it is unclear what the incident needs may be.

Nursing Home Command Center (NHCC) – the incident command post established within a nursing home in accordance with the Nursing Home Incident Command System. The NHCC is a specific location (i.e. nurses’ station, conference room, administrator’s office, etc.) within the facility, which serves as a base location for managing the operations of the incident including all activities within the defined scope of the incident. The NHCC’s location is designated by the Incident Commander but is typically identified in advance of an incident.

Nursing Home Incident Command System (NHICS) – an adaptation of the Incident Command System (ICS) customized for nursing homes and long‐term care facilities. See definition of Incident Command System for an expanded definition of the concepts utilized by NHICS.

Operational Period – the period of time scheduled for execution of a given set of actions in the Incident Action Plan (IAP) as determined by the Incident Commander.

Operations Section – the section responsible for all tactical incident operations. In ICS, it normally includes subordinate branches, divisions, and/or groups.

Outsourcing – the act of contracting out functions and activities.

Pandemic Influenza – virulent human flu that causes a global outbreak, or pandemic, of serious illness. Because there is little natural immunity, the disease can spread easily from person to person.

Perimeter Management – the task which fully addresses planning and implementation of the plan for securing borders of the incident scene and/or operational site. This includes defining the appropriate borders, erecting fencing or other materials to prevent unauthorized ingress, staffing perimeter control points, implementing credentialing and accountability, and other measures that control access without impeding incident operations.

Personnel Accountability – the ability to account for the location and welfare of incident personnel. It is accomplished when supervisors ensure that ICS principles and processes are functional and that personnel are working within established incident management guidelines.

Plan – a plan is proposed or intended as a method of getting from one set of circumstances to another. A plan provides guidelines and/or directives on moving from the present situation towards the achievement of one or more objectives or goals. The term “Plans” in emergency management has multiple connotations:

  • Component plans of the overall emergency management program (EMP). In comprehensive emergency management, these are the Mitigation Plan, Preparedness Plan, Emergency Operations Plan (i.e., Response Plan), and Recovery Plan.
  • Incident plans developed during incident response (often customized from pre‐plans) that guide the response actions and achieve “management by objective.”
  • Preplans are guidelines that describe processes and procedures to be followed, plus other response considerations, for specific events and/or for specific geographic locations (stadiums, government facilities, special security events, etc.). These build upon the guidance in the functional annexes, and are included in the incident (i.e., hazard‐specific) annexes of the EOP. Most of the guidance and accompanying considerations in the per‐plan can be accomplished within the usual EOP construct. The VHA refers to these detailed pre‐plans for complex events as “Standard Operating Procedures” (SOPs).
  • Preparedness plans address the preparedness of organizations for emergency response and recovery; these include a training plan, exercise plan, and others. Developing, documenting and revising/refining response and recovery plans and all their components.
  • Subplans: Function‐specific guidance and tools for use during emergency response and recovery. For example, the mobilization of the decontamination area may be a sub‐plan to the Patient Decontamination Plan, which is a function‐specific plan that guides hospital personnel in receiving and managing contaminated casualties.
  • Supporting Plans are the incident planning documents that support the Incident Action Plan. These include the Safety Plan, the Medical Plan, Communications Plan and others. Planning,

Planning, Incident Response – activities that support the incident management process, including developing the incident action plan and support plans and accomplishing incident information processing. This is in contrast to preparedness planning, which is designed to ready a system for response.

Player – healthcare system personnel who are participating in the exercise in the roles they would take during an actual emergency.

Preparedness – actions that involve a combination of planning, resources, training, exercising, and organizing to build, sustain, and improve operational capabilities. Preparedness is the process of identifying the personnel, training, and equipment needed for a wide range of potential incidents and developing jurisdiction – specific plans for delivering capabilities when needed for an incident. This phase of Comprehensive Emergency Management encompasses actions designed to build organizational resiliency and/or organizational capacity and capabilities for response to and recovery from disasters and emergencies. · Activities, programs, and systems developed and implemented prior to a disaster/emergency that are used to support and enhance mitigation of, response to, and recovery from disasters/emergencies. The range of deliberate, critical tasks and activities necessary to build, sustain, and improve the operational capability to prevent, protect against, respond to, and recover from domestic incidents. Preparedness is a continuous process. Preparedness involves efforts at all levels of government and between government and private sector and nongovernmental organizations to identify threats, determine vulnerabilities, and identify required resources. Within the NIMS, preparedness is operationally focused on establishing guidelines, protocols, and standards for planning, training and exercises, personnel qualification and certification, equipment certification, and publication management.

Prevention – the term ‘prevention’ refers to activities undertaken by the first responder community during the early stages of an incident to reduce the likelihood or consequences of threatened or actual terrorist attacks.”

Privileging – the process where appropriately credentialed personnel (see credentialing) are accepted into an incident to participate as an assigned resource in the response. This process may include both confirmation of a responder’s credentials and a determination that an incident need exists that the responder is qualified to address. Privileging is associated with a separate process, badging (see badging), which indicates that a person has been privileged to access a specific incident or to access a specific location.

Procedure – a series of specific activities, tasks, steps, decisions, calculations and other processes, that when undertaken in the prescribed sequence produces the described result, product or outcome. “Following” a procedure should produce repeatable results for the same input conditions. In the context of emergency management, procedures are much more tightly defined and specific to a distinct organization than the “process” that the procedure or series of procedures accomplishes.

Process – a process is a defined activity, related to planning and/or implementation, carried out to achieve the objectives of the program. A process commonly encompasses multiple procedures that are linked or coordinated to accomplish the process objectives (see procedure).

Qualification – a term indicating that an individual has met all the requirements of training plus the requirements for physical and medical fitness, psychological fitness, strength/agility, experience or other necessary requirements/standards for a position. “Qualification” therefore indicates that the individual possesses all the competencies required for the response position. In some job categories, qualification is demonstrated by obtaining a professional license. · A term that refers to competencies, certifications, experience, physical abilities and other requirements required for an individual to successfully perform in a specific job position. Also called “position qualifications.”

Radiation – emission or transfer of energy in the form of electromagnetic waves or particles.

Receiving Area – this refers to a location separate from staging areas, where resources report in for processing and out‐processing. Reception Areas provide accountability, security, situational awareness briefings, safety awareness, distribution of IAPs, supplies and equipment, feeding, and bed down.

Recovery – the phase of Comprehensive Emergency Management that encompasses activities and programs implemented during and after response that are designed to return the entity to its usual state or to a “new normal.” For response organizations, this includes return‐ to‐readiness activities. The development, coordination, and execution of service- and site-restoration plans; the reconstitution of government operations and services; individual, private-sector, nongovernmental, and public-assistance programs to provide housing and to promote restoration; long-term care and treatment of affected persons; additional measures for social, political, environmental, and economic restoration; evaluation of the incident to identify lessons learned; post incident reporting; and development of initiatives to mitigate the effects of future incidents.

Recovery Plan – a plan developed by a State, local, or tribal jurisdiction with assistance from responding Federal agencies to restore the affected area.

Resource Management – the process for establishing resource needs including the types and quantities needed to effectively manage an incident. Key Elements of resource management includes procurement / ordering, dispatching, utilization, tracking, evaluating, demobilization, recovery and reimbursement.

Resource Unit – functional unit within the Planning Section responsible for recording the status of resources committed to the incident. This unit also evaluates resources currently committed to the incident, the effects additional responding resources will have on the incident, and anticipated resource needs.

Resources – personnel and major items of equipment, supplies, and facilities available or potentially available for assignment to incident operations and for which status is maintained. Resources are described by kind and type and may be used in operational support or supervisory capacities at an incident or at an EOC.

Responder, First – refers to individuals who in the early stages of an incident are responsible for the protection and preservation of life, property, evidence, and the environment, including emergency response providers as defined in Section 2 of the Homeland Security Act of 2002 (6 U.S.C. 101). It includes emergency management, public health, clinical care, public works, and other skilled support personnel (e.g., equipment operators) who provide immediate support services during prevention, response, and recovery operations.

Response – immediate actions to save lives, protect property and the environment, and meet basic human needs. Response also includes the execution of emergency plans and actions to support short-term recovery. The phase of Comprehensive Emergency Management that addresses the immediate and short‐term effects of the disaster or emergency. It includes activities immediately before (for an impending threat), during, and after a hazard impact to address the immediate and short‐term effects of the disaster or emergency. In disaster/emergency management applications, activities designed to address the immediate and short‐term effects of the disaster/emergency. Activities that address the short‐term, direct effects of an incident. Response includes immediate actions to save lives, protect property, and meet basic human needs. Response also includes the execution of emergency operations plans and of mitigation activities designed to limit the loss of life, personal injury, property damage, and other unfavorable outcomes. As indicated by the situation, response activities include applying intelligence and other information to lessen the effects or consequences of an incident; increased security operations; continuing investigations into nature and source of the threat; ongoing public health and agricultural surveillance and testing processes; immunizations, isolation, or quarantine; and specific law enforcement operations aimed at preempting, interdicting, or disrupting illegal activity, and apprehending actual perpetrators and bringing them to justice.

Risk Analysis – a detailed examination performed to understand the nature of unwanted, negative consequences to human life, health, property, or the environment; an analytical process to provide information regarding undesirable events; the process of quantification of the probabilities and expected consequences for identified risks.

Risk Assessment – the process, including both risk analysis and risk management alternatives, of establishing information regarding an acceptable level of that risk for an individual, group, society, or the environment.

Risk Management – a management science that employs the findings of the HVA process to make strategic and tactical decisions on how risks will be treated – whether deferred, reduced (through mitigation and preparedness activities), transferred, or avoided. Risk management provides the option of accepting certain levels of risk, at least temporarily, that are considered too low for resource allocation. Conversely, it provides the decision option to commit major resources that eliminate or avoid risks that are of such high probability and/or high consequence that they threaten the very existence of an organization. Risk management, which may be considered as a subsection of overall emergency management, focuses upon mitigation preparedness activities that prevent and or reduce hazard impacts, and is considered by many to be its own discipline.

Risk Reduction – long‐term measures to reduce the scale and/or the duration eventual adverse effects of unavoidable or unpreventable disaster hazards on a society that is at risk, by reducing the vulnerability of its people, structures, services, and economic activities to the impact of known disaster hazards. Typical risk reduction measures include improved building standards, flood plain zoning and land‐use planning, crop diversification, and planting windbreaks. The measures are frequently subdivided into “structural” and “non‐structural”, “active” and “passive” measures.

Risk – the expectation of loss from hazards and their impact. Risk is a function of probability (likelihood) of a hazard occurrence and the impact (consequences) of a hazard on the target of the risk assessment. It’s a relationship between the hazard and the target’s vulnerability to the hazard. Risk can be addressed by managing probability (through mitigation) and/or managing impact (through mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery).

Safety Officer – safety Officer (SO) – a member of the Command Staff responsible for monitoring and assessing safety hazards or unsafe situations and for developing measures for ensuring personnel safety.

Safety – safety, in the traditional sense, refers to monitoring and reducing the work‐place risk of personnel casualties (injuries and deaths) to some acceptable level.

ScenarioBased Planning – planning approach that uses a Hazard Vulnerability Assessment to assess impact on the organization based upon various threats that the organization could encounter. These threats (such as a hurricane, terrorist attack and so on) became the basis of the scenario.

Security – security in the traditional sense refers to monitoring and reducing the risk of human induced events that adversely affect people or property (intrusion of unauthorized personnel, theft, sabotage, assault, etc.), to some acceptable level.

Severe Weather – any atmospheric condition potentially destructive or hazardous form human beings. It is often associated with extreme convective weather (tropical cyclones, tornadoes, severe thunderstorms, squalls, etc.) and with storms of freezing precipitation or blizzard conditions.

Simulation, Exercise – the imitative representation of a hazard impact and/or response action for exercise participants, providing an exercise or drill effect that allows the scenario to evolve without having to actually have the impact or response action occur.

Situation Analysis – the process of evaluating the severity and consequences of an incident and communicating the results.

Situation Assessment – an assessment produced during emergency response and recovery that combines incident geography/topography, weather, hazard, hazard impact, and resource data to provide a balanced knowledge base for decision‐making. Adequate situation assessment and dissemination of a comprehensive situation assessment (through situation reports and other means) creates the “common operating picture.”

Span of Control – the number of individuals or resources one supervisor can manage effectively. Effective span of control is accomplished by organizing resources into Sections, Branches and Units.

Stafford Act (1) The Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, Public Law 93‐288, as amended. (2) The Stafford Act provides an orderly and continuing means of assistance by the Federal Government to State and local governments in carrying out their responsibilities to alleviate the suffering and damage that result from disaster. The President, in response to a State Governor’s request, may declare an “emergency” or “major disaster” in order to provide Federal assistance under the Act. The President, in Executive Order 12148, delegated all functions, except those in Sections 301, 401, and 409, to the Director, of FEMA. The Act provides for the appointment of a Federal Coordinating Officer who will operate in the designated area with a State Coordinating Officer for the purpose of coordinating state and local disaster assistance efforts with those of the Federal Government (44 CFR 206.2).

Staging Area – location established where resources can be placed while awaiting a tactical assignment. The Operations Section manages Staging Areas [where assets assigned to operations are staged].

Stakeholder– a person, group, organization, or system who affects or can be affected by an organization’s actions.

Strategic – strategic elements of incident management are characterized by continuous long‐term, high‐level planning by organizations headed by elected or other senior officials. These elements involve the adoption of long‐range goals and objectives, the setting of priorities; the establishment of budgets and other fiscal decisions, policy development, and the application of measures of performance or effectiveness (NIMS).

Terrorism – under the Homeland Security Act of 2002, terrorism is defined as activity that involves an act dangerous to human life or potentially destructive of critical infrastructure or key resources and is a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State or other subdivision of the United States in which it occurs and is intended to intimidate or coerce the civilian population or influence a government or affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping. · “The unlawful use of force or violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives (FBI). Domestic terrorism involves groups or individuals who are based and operate entirely within the United States and U.S. territories without foreign direction and whose acts are directed at elements of the U.S. government or population.”

Threat – an indication of possible violence, harm, or danger. The possibility of a hazard occurrence; something that has the potential to cause harm.

Thunderstorm – sudden electrical discharges manifested by a flash of light (lightning) and a sharp or rumbling sound (thunder). Thunderstorms are associated with convective clouds (Cumulonimbus) and are, more often, accompanied by precipitation in the form of rain showers or hail, or occasionally snow, snow pellets, or ice pellets.

Tornado – a violently rotating storm of small diameter; the most violent weather phenomenon. It is produced in a very severe thunderstorm and appears as a funnel cloud extending from the base of a Cumulonimbus to the ground.

Training – training is instruction that imparts and/or maintains the skills (and abilities such as strength and endurance) necessary for individuals and teams to perform their assigned system responsibilities. Training objectives should be competency‐based and specify a level of proficiency that relates to the relevant competencies (“awareness, operations, or expert”). As much as possible, training should address skills function under the conditions likely when the skill must be conducted.

Unified Command – shared incident management responsibilities among multiple responding agencies or organizations.

Vertical Evacuation – the evacuation of persons from an entire area, floor, or wing of a hospital to another floor (either higher or lower based upon the threat/event).

Volcanic Dust – dust of particles emitted by a volcano during an eruption. They may remain suspended in the atmosphere for long periods and be carried by the winds to different regions of the Earth.

Vulnerability Analysis – the process of estimating the vulnerability to potential disaster hazards of specified elements at risk. For engineering purposes, vulnerability analysis involves the analysis of theoretical and empirical data concerning the effects of particular phenomena on particular types of structures. For more general socio‐economic purposes, it involves consideration of all significant elements in society, including physical, social and economic considerations (both short and long‐term), and the extent to which essential services (and traditional and local coping mechanisms) are able to continue functioning.

Vulnerability Assessment– a vulnerability assessment presents “the extent of injury and damage that may result from a hazard event of a given intensity in a given area. The vulnerability assessment should address impacts of hazard events on the existing and future built environment.”

Vulnerability – the likelihood of an organization being affected by a hazard, and its susceptibility to the impact and consequences (injury, death, and damage) of the hazard.

Warning – dissemination of notification message signaling imminent hazard that may include advice on protective measures. See also “alert.” For example, a warning is issued by the National Weather Service to let people know that a severe weather event is already occurring or is imminent, and usually provides direction on protective actions. A “warning” notification for individuals is equivalent to an “activation” notification for response systems.

Watch – a watch is a notification issued by the National Weather Service to let people know that conditions are right for a potential disaster to occur. It does not mean that an event will necessarily occur. People should listen to their radio or TV to keep informed about changing weather conditions. A watch is issued for specific geographic areas, such as counties, for phenomena such as hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, flash floods, severe thunderstorms, and winter storms. As such, a “watch” notification for individuals is equivalent to an “alert” notification for response systems.

Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) – WMD generally refers to chemical, nuclear, biological agents or explosive devices that could be deployed against civilian populations (differentiates from military use).