Unformatted text preview: 10/27/08 1 GUIDE TO EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AND RELATED TERMS, DEFINITIONS,
CONCEPTS, ACRONYMS, ORGANIZATIONS, PROGRAMS, GUIDANCE,
EXECUTIVE ORDERS & LEGISLATION
A Tutorial on Emergency Management, Broadly Defined, Past and Present
© 2007 B. Wayne Blanchard
B. Wayne Blanchard, Ph.D., CEM
October 22, 2008
(Date of Last Modification) “Not until terms and concepts have been clearly defined can one hope to make any progress in
examining the question clearly and simply and expect the reader to share one’s views.”
(Carl Von Clausewitz, On War, Princeton University Press, 1976, p. 132) NOTE: This is not a comprehensive, definitive, exhaustive or official treatment of “emergency
management” and related terms, definitions, acronyms, programs or legislation. It is simply a
collection of terms, definitions, acronyms, and program and legislative descriptions and pulled
together into a single document as time and opportunity have allowed to be assembled.
The original “Emergency Management-Related Terms and Definitions Guide” was developed as
a student handout in an Introduction to Emergency Management college course taught by the
author in 1999 and has been maintained as time allows for the authors’ own purposes, one of
which is to continue supporting collegiate emergency management courses. Another is as an aid
to quickly accessing hard-to-remember terms, definitions and acronyms, etc., particularly when
not used on a regular basis.
At the time of original development the primary purpose was to demonstrate to the students the
very wide range of definitions and meanings given to such words as “hazards,” disasters,”
“emergencies,” “risk,” “vulnerability,” and “emergency management.” In the classroom
productive time was spent trying to come to a group consensus on the variables comprising a
definition of each word.
The thought then and now was that words make a difference and that an indicator of a profession
and of professionalism is a shared understanding of (better yet, general consensus on) key terms,
definitions, concepts and principles that are part of a body of knowledge for a profession. A
shared understanding of key terms, definitions, concepts and principles is also a constituent
element for the development of the academic discipline of Emergency Management.
The reception by Emergency Management collegiate faculty and students (as well as Emergency
Management Professionals), over time, was such that a decision was made to expand the scope
of the handout into other, mostly U.S. specific, emergency management and related terms and
definitions. 10/27/08 2 After the creation of the Department of Homeland Security, and FEMA’s incorporation into the
DHS, the scope broadened again and also changed to incorporate references to relevant
legislation, programs and organizations.
More recently, as discussion of the development of international principles of disaster/emergency
management seems to have gained momentum, a modest effort has been extended to the
incorporation of international terms and definitions, particularly those originating from hazardsrelated United Nations organizations and bodies.
Note 1: Obsolete and historical terms, definitions, etc. are included as an aid to understating
such terms when encountered.
Note 2: A bibliography of sources cited is at that the end of the document. All within-text
citation sources have been included in this bibliography.
Note 3: Use of this material for educational and professional purposes is unrestricted provided that
proper attribution is provided. Terms, Definitions, Acronyms, Programs, Concepts, Organizations, Guidance, Legislation
Alphabetically Organized – Full References at the End
A Zone: “A Zone is defined as the Special Flood Hazard Area shown on a community’s Flood
Insurance Rate Map. The A Zone is the area subject to inundation during a 100-year flood, which
is the flood elevation that has a 1-percent chance of being equaled or exceeded each year. There
are several categories of A Zones, including AO (shallow sheet flow or ponding; average flood
depths are shown); AH Zones (shallow flooding; base flood elevations are shown); numbered A
and AE Zones (base flood elevations are shown); and unnumbered A Zones (no base flood
elevations are provided because detailed hydraulic analyses were not performed).” (FEMA,
Reducing Damage from Localized Flooding – A Guide for Communities (FEMA 511), 2005, vii)
AAC: After Action Conference, HSEEP. (FEMA, About HSEEP, 2008)
AAC: Applicant Assistance Center. (FEMA, FAAT List (FEMA 524), 2005, p. 1)
AAR: After Action Report. (DHS, TCL, 2007, p. 30)
AAR: After Action Review. (Dept. of Army, WMD-CST Operations, Dec. 2007, Glossary 1)
AAR/IP: After Action Report/Improvement Plan. (FEMA, About HSEEP, 2008)
ABCP: Associate Business Continuity Planner, DRII.
ABM: Anti-Ballistic Missile. 10/27/08 3 ABO: Agents of Biological Origin. (FEMA, FAAT List (FEMA 524), 2005, p. 2)
A-Bomb: “An abbreviation for atomic bomb.” (Glasstone, Effects of Nuclear Weapons, 1977,
Glossary, p. 629)
ACADA: Automatic Chemical Agent Detection and Alarm. (FEMA, FAAT List, 2005, p. 2)
ACAMS: Automated Critical Asset Management System. (DHS, NIPP, 2006, p. 101)
ACBIRC: Advanced Chemical and Biological Integrated Response Course, DOD.
ACC: Acute Care Center. (CA EMSA. Hospital Incident Command Sys. Guidebook, 2006, 206)
ACC: Agency Command Center. (FEMA, FAAT List (FEMA 524), 2005, p. 2)
Acceleration: “A change in velocity with time; in seismology and in earthquake engineering, it
is expressed as a fraction of gravity (g), with reference to vibrations of the ground or of a
structure.” (UN DHA, Glossary, Disaster Management, 1992, p. 16)
Acceptable Down Time: “The period of time a function or activity can be disrupted without
significant impact to production, customer service, revenue, or public confidence. Each business
activity must develop its individual maximum allowable down time. Also referred to as
Maximum Allowable Recovery Time.” (Jones, Critical Incident Protocol, 2000, p. 37)
Acceptable Risk: “AN ACCEPTABLE LEVEL OF RISK for regulations and special permits
is established by consideration of risk, cost/benefit and public comments. Relative or
comparative risk analysis is most often used where quantitative risk analysis is not practical or
justified. Public participation is important in a risk analysis process, not only for enhancing the
public's understanding of the risks associated with hazardous materials transportation, but also
for insuring that the point of view of all major segments of the population-at-risk is included in
the analyses process. Risk and cost/benefit analysis are important tools in informing the public
about the actual risk and cost as opposed to the perceived risk and cost involved in an activity.
Through such a public process PHMSA [Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety
Administration] establishes hazard classification, hazard communication, packaging, and
operational control standards.” (DOT, Risk Management Definitions, Office of Hazardous
Materials Safety, 2005)
Acceptable Risk: That level of risk that is sufficiently low that society is comfortable with it.
Society does not generally consider expenditure in further reducing such risks justifiable.
(Australian National 1994)
Acceptable Risk: Degree of humans and material loss that is perceived as tolerable in actions to
minimize disaster risk. (Nimpuno 1998)
Acceptable Risk: Risk tolerance. 10/27/08 4 Given that the provision of absolute safety is impossible, there is great sense in trying to determine
the level of risk which is acceptable for any activity or situation. Thus, when a hazard is being
managed, the financial and other resources allocated to the task should theoretically match the
degree of threat posed by the hazard, as indicated by the rank of the risk….
One must always specify acceptable to whom and that implies a conscious decision based on all the
The 1993 floods in the upper Mississippi river basin had an estimated return period of more than
one in 200 years, yet some people who were flooded asserted that this event should now be regarded
as an unacceptable risk. Such arguments ignore both the economic and social benefits derived by
those communities from their floodplain location over the previous 100 years or so, when few flood
losses occurred, and the cost to the taxpayer implied in protecting floodplain basins against a flood
of the 1993 magnitude. (Smith 1996, 57)
Acceptable Risk: Degree of human and material loss that is perceived by the community or
relevant authorities as tolerable in actions to minimize disaster risk. (UN DHA, Internationally
Agreed Glossary of Basic Terms Related to Disaster Management, 1992, p.16)
Acceptable Risk: “The level of loss a society or community considers acceptable given existing
social, economic, political, cultural, technical and environmental conditions.” (UN ISDR,
Terminology: Basic Terms of Disaster Risk Reduction, 2004, p. 1)
Accepted Risk: “An approach that does nothing with a risk, but rather prepares for and deals
with the consequences of a risk should it occur. No risk management resources are expended in
dealing with accepted risks.” (DOA, Infrastructure Risk Management (Army), 2004, p. 12)
Access Disaster Risk Assessment Model: “A model that explores how an individual or groups
relative resilience to disasters is impacted by differences in access to the economic or political
resources needed to secure a livelihood. The strengths of the model are that it provides a broad
view of vulnerability including root causes, it gives weight to natural hazards, and it provides a
framework for looking at livelihoods and vulnerability. The limitation of the model, is that it is a
tool for explaining vulnerability, not for measuring it. The model cannot be applied operationally
without a great deal of data collection and analysis.” (UN Disaster Assessment Portal,
Techniques Used in Disaster Risk Assessment, 2008)
Accident: “The word ‘accidental’ carries with it the connotations of both something that occurs
by chance and something non-essential or incidental…. The thesis that ‘accidents will happen’
and that therefore nothing can be done to prevent their occurrence reaches its logical fulfillment
in the thesis of Charles Perrow that accidents are so inevitable and therefore non-preventable that
we are even justified in calling them ‘normal’” (Allinson 1993 15-16).
Accident: “Unintended damaging event, industrial mishap” (D&E Reference Center 1998). 10/27/08 5 Accident: “An unexpected or undesirable event, especially one causing injury to a small
number of individuals and/or modest damage to physical structures. Examples would be
automotive accidents or damage from lightning striking a house.” (Drabek 1996, Session 2, p. 3)
Accident: “…situations in which an occasion can be handled by…emergency organizations. The
demands that are made on the community are within the scope of domain responsibility of the usual
emergency organizations such as police, fire, medical and health personnel. Such accidents create
needs (and damage) which are limited to the accident scene and so few other community facilities
are damaged. Thus, the emergency response is delimited in both location and to the range of
emergency activities. The primary burden of emergency response falls on those organizations that
incorporate clearly deferred emergency responsibility into their domains. When the emergency
tasks are completed, there are few vestiges of the accident or lasting effects on the community
structure” (Dynes 1998, 117).
Accident: “An unexpected occurrence, failure or loss with the potential for harming human life,
property or the environment.” (European Environment Agency, EEA Environmental Glossary)
Accident: “The very language used to describe the [TMI] accident revealed the very diverse
perceptions that enter such interpretations. Was it an accident or an incident? A catastrophe or a
mishap? A disaster or an event? A technical failure or a simple mechanical breakdown?”
(Nelkin 1981, 135).
Accident: An event which only requires the response of established organizations – expansion or
actions such as going to extra shifts is not called for. (Quarantelli 1987, 25)
Accident: “The evidence…suggests that accidents are not the product of divine caprice, nor of a set
of random chance events which are not likely to recur, but that they are incidents, created by people,
which can be analyzed, and that the lessons learned from that analysis, if implemented, will help to
prevent similar events from taking place again.” (Toft 1992, 58)
Accident, Technological: “Technological accidents…are almost never understood as the way the
world of chance sorts itself out. They provoke outrage rather than acceptance or resignation. They
generate a feeling that the thing ought not have happened, that someone is at fault, that victims
deserve not only compassion and compensation but something akin to what lawyers call punitive
damages.” (Erikson, 1989, 143)
Accountability: “Everyone, including private individuals and organizations and government
agencies and officials, should be accountable for their actions before, during and after an
emergency.” (ACLU, Pandemic Preparedness, 2008, 7)
Accreditation: “Empowers certifying/qualifying organizations with the authority to declare an
individual/organization capable of performing critical tasks and capabilities.” (Capital Health
Region, ICS100: Incident Command System Training Student Manual, March 2007, p. 50)
ACE: Army Corps of Engineers (correct acronym usage is USACE). 10/27/08 6 ACECenter: Assessment of Catastrophic Events Center, Defense Threat Reduction Agency,
Fort Belvoir, VA. (DTRA/DOD, ACECenter Public Page)
ACEHR: Advisory Committee on Earthquake Hazards Reduction.
ACEP: American College of Emergency Physicians.
ACF: Alternate Care Facility. (FEMA, FAAT List (FEMA 524), 2005, p. 2)
ACFM: Advanced Certified Floodplain Manager. (FEMA, FAAT List (FEMA 524), 2005, 2)
AC/IC: Area Command/Incident Command. (DHS, JFO Activation and Operations, 2006, 1)
Acid Rain: “Rain containing dissolved acidic compounds, resulting from chemical pollution of
the atmosphere by sulphur and nitrogen compounds. When deposited these increase the acidity
of the soil and water causing agricultural and ecological damage.” (UNDHA, DM Glossary,
ACP: Alternate Command Post. (FEMA, FAAT List (FEMA 524), 2005, p. 3)
ACP: Area Command Post. (FEMA, FAAT List (FEMA 524), 2005, p. 3)
ACP: Area Contingency Plan. (FEMA, FAAT List (FEMA 524), 2005, p. 3)
ACP: Association of Contingency Planners.
ACPSEM: Advisory Council on Professional Standards for Emergency Managers. (FEMA,
FAAT List (FEMA 524), 2005, p. 3)
ACS: Alternative Care Sites. (Trust for America’s Health, Ready or Not? 2007, p. 64)
ACT: Area Command Team. (Little Hoover Com., Safeguarding the Golden Gate, 2006, 22)
ACTFAST: Agent Characteristics and Toxicity – First Aid and Special Treatment. (FEMA,
Compendium of Federal Terrorism Training Courses, 2003, p. 6)
ACTIC: Arizona Counter-Terrorism InforCenter.
Action Officer (AO): “An individual assigned by a Federal agency to manage a specific
mission assignment issued to that Federal agency.” (FEMA, Mission Assignment SOPs
Operating Draft, July 2007. p. 55)
Action Request Form (ARF): “The Action Request Form (ARF) is the form that the State,
Federal agencies, and FEMA managers use for requesting Federal assistance that may result in a
mission assignment, the amendment of an existing mission assignment, or the issuance of a
mission assignment task order.” (FEMA, Mission Assignment SOPs…Draft, July 2007. p. 16) 10/27/08 7 Action Tracker (AT): “The AT is assigned to the Operations Section (NRCC, RRCC and JFO)
and is responsible for maintaining a log of all Action Request Forms (ARFs) that are submitted
to the Operations Section.” (FEMA, Mission Assignment SOPs Operating Draft, July 2007, 6)
Actions: “Actions are specific actions that help you achieve your goals and objectives. For
• Elevate three historic structures located in the downtown district.
• Sponsor a community fair to promote wildfire defensible space.
• Retrofit the police department to withstand high wind damage.” (FEMA, Developing the
Mitigation Plan (FEMA 386-3), 2003, p. 1-1)
Activation: “The implementation of business continuity capabilities, procedures, activities, and
plans in response to an emergency or disaster declaration; the execution of the recovery plan.
Similar terms: Declaration, Invocation.” (DigitalCare, State of OR BC Workshop, 2006, p. 45)
Activity Process Flow Map: “An Activity Process Flow Map shows the major activities that
are performed with the capability and how the capability links to other capabilities.” (DHS, TCL,
2007, p. 8)
Acts of God: Natural disasters or freak accidents. (Birkland 1997, 2.)
“When society seems to have formed a consensus that the event was an ‘act of God,’ such as
a natural disaster or freak accident, our attention turns to what we can do to help the victims.
But when the disaster is the result of human failings – poor design, operator error, ‘corporate
greed,’ or ‘government neglect’ – our attention turns to the voluntary acceptance of
responsibility for an event or to the more coercive process of fixing blame. Boards of
inquiry are formed, legislatures hold hearings, and reports are issued, all in hopes of
‘learning something from this incident’ to ensure that something similar does not happen
again or in the case of ‘unavoidable’ disasters, in hopes of improving our preparation for and
response to disasters” (Birkland 1997, 2).
Acts of God: A fatalistic “syndrome whereby individuals feel no personal responsibility for hazard
response and wish to avoid expenditure on risk reduction” (Smith 1996, 70).
Actual Event: “A disaster (natural or man-made) that has warranted action to protect life, property,
environment, public health or safety. Natural disasters include earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes,
floods, etc.; man-made (either intentional or accidental) incidents can include chemical spills,
terrorist attacks, explosives, biological attacks, etc.” (FEMA, NIMS Compliance Metrics Terms of
Reference (For Fiscal Year 2007), October 23, 2006, p. 1)
Actual Risk: “Actual risk reflects the combination of…two factors…(1) probability, the
likelihood, quantitative or qualitative, that an adverse event would occur; and (2) consequences,
the damage resulting from the event, should it occur.” (GAO, Protection of Chemical and Water
Infrastructure, 2005, p. 24-25) 10/27/08 8 Acute Exposure: “A contact between an agent and a target occurring over a short time,
generally less than a day.” (European Environment Agency, EEA Environmental Glossary)
Acutely Toxic Chemicals: “Chemicals that can cause severe short- and long-term health effects
after a single, brief exposure (short duration). These chemicals (when ingested, inhaled, or
absorbed through the skin) can cause damage to living tissue, impairment of the central nervous
system, severe illness, or, in extreme cases, death.” (EPA, Technical Guidance for Hazards
Analysis: Emergency Planning for Extremely Hazardous Substances, 1987, p. A-4)
ADA: Americans with Disabilities Act.
ADAMS: Automated Disaster Assistance Management System. (Defunct)
Adaptive Planning: ADAPTIVE PLANNING allows combatant commanders to produce plans
significantly faster and to a higher level of quality. Rapid planning and greater efficiency are
achieved through clear, “up-front” strategic guidance; iterative dialogue among senior leaders;
parallel plan development and collaboration across multiple planning levels; and a suite of netcentric and execution tools with real-time access to relevant data. Participation by the Joint
Planning and Execution Community (JPEC) is still a requirement (Figure 1-1) so development
of the plan, in-progress reviews (IPRs), coordination among supporting commanders, agenc...
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