Emergency management has its foundation in the protection of life, property and the environment and consists of four overlapping phases:
Mitigation includes a review of ways to eliminate or reduce the impact of future emergencies. Specific hazard mitigation plans are prepared following a federally declared disaster. They reflect the current risk analysis and mitigation priorities specific to the declared disaster. An alternate and more common term for mitigation is prevention. In the field of emergency services, however, the term prevention is used to refer to stopping an event from happening. Emergency managers point out that while it is possible to prevent terrorist attacks, it is not possible to prevent earthquakes. It is, however, possible to reduce or mitigate their impact.
Preparedness involves the activities undertaken in advance of an emergency, including developing operation capabilities, training, preparing plans, and improving public information and communications systems.
Response is defined as the actions taken to save lives and protect property during an emergency event.
Recovery efforts begin at the onset of an emergency. Recovery is both a short-term activity intended to restore vital life - support systems, and a long-term activity designed to return infrastructure systems to pre- disaster conditions. Recovery also includes cost recovery efforts.