The Five Steps of Emergency Management

Emergency Management covers a range of different disaster events, but there is more to this role than meets the eye. The job itself encompasses more than solely being in charge of an emergency. A person in this position must be able to think on their feet and follow multiple procedures in order to successfully execute their functions. People in these roles need to understand local legislation intimately, and make informed, sometimes spontaneous decisions every time that they are working. The article below discusses the five steps of Emergency Management that are universally applied to disasters, and how this role is accessed.

What is Emergency Management?

Emergency Management, as a career, is the person in charge of the response initiative to a large scale disaster event. This can be natural disaster or a similar uncontrollable event. The person in this position will dictate measures to protect the local community and reduce any risks or dangerous consequences to the best of their ability. Each role is different and strenuous with varying degrees of resources at their disposal, so it is essential that the Emergency Manager can respond adaptively.

How To Qualify In Emergency Management

Emergency Management courses offer the opportunity to learn and gain a credible qualification. This is a good way to gain experience, harness a bigger understanding, and explore what kind of Emergency Manager you might become. Without such a degree or even further education, it is unlikely that you would ever be considered for a role like this. This is because it is not a job that you can simply make up your actions as you go about your day, it has real accountability in the wider world and can often mean life or death for large numbers of people. It is worth noting that these kinds of roles are not entry-level positions, in that they require years of experience and a proven history of valid credentials. This work is high pressure and high reward, and it can be extremely stressful when you are in the thick of it. The other side to this of course is that it can bring a great sense of achievement and relief if performed correctly with a good outcome.

The Personality of an Emergency Manager

In order to secure a position of this ilk, you have to meet certain criteria and be able to display experience across the board. The common, most desirable characteristics of a good Emergency Manager include:

  • Flexibility: This refers to the ability to adapt to changing circumstances. Disasters and emergencies are, by their very nature, turbulent occurrences that need someone who is able to think on their feet and respond intuitively. Flexibility may be required for response techniques but also planning contingencies. Often, during an emergency situation, a multi-faceted approach is required to get through it, keep people safe and protect infrastructure. This means that the person in charge needs to be able to bend their thinking in multiple directions and keep up with current events.
  • Professionalism: In this role, professionalism is a necessity. The manager will be communicating with many different people, possibly hundreds all at the same time and in different areas. It is an essential quality, therefore, that any qualifier in this position is able to adapt their management style in line with what is in front of them. This requires a lot of planning and bringing together different organizations and entities that may be involved in the response and recovery stages, as well as the planning and mitigation ones too.
  • Communicative: Linking on from professionalism, good and appropriate communication is also an essential skill. There is no space for miscommunication and wires crossed in a life-or-death scenario. Everything must be as concise as possible in order to delegate the facts and instructions in the most timely and direct manner.
  • Spontaneity: Perhaps the most desirable trait of all, spontaneity. This goes hand in hand with the ability to be flexible but takes it even further. Flexibility is fine but a spontaneous person is able to think on their feet and respond rapidly. You might have to come up with solutions on the spot to save lives, for example, in a completely random and unexpected natural disaster that has had no foreplaning or considerations in place.
  • Intelligence: To become an Emergency Manger, you have to undergo years of study at a higher level. This is unavoidable. This requires a certain intelligence expectation that carries on through to real world application. There are lots of different elements at play in any situation where these types of roles are needed, therefore, this requires a certain level of intelligence to see it through.
  • Authoritative: This is authoritative and not in a dictatorship sense, but more in a command sense. The person in charge, especially when lives are on the table, needs to be completely in charge. This has to be a person that the response team can follow and feel that they can trust. They need to project an image of authority across the board not only for the citizens involved in the emergency, but also the people on the floor responding to it. Leaders are leaders for a reason, and that reason is because people want to follow them. Some people have it, and some people don’t.

The Five Steps of Emergency Management

The five steps are listed and discussed below. Generally speaking, these are a recognised and universal structure for any emergency situation that can and should be followed by all people in this role.


The prevention part of the process is the stage at which planning happens. This planning explores all the potential and then viable ways in which hazards can be avoided. These can be dangers that derive from human error, technology malfunctions, and natural disasters. The point of this stage is to put everything possible in place to protect lives and assets from harm. All routes need to be considered and it can be a long and drawn-out process, as it takes a lot of thought and consideration. It also eliminates certain routes that could be taken in favor of others


Mitigation is the next step. This is where the prevention is put into action to attempt to protect lives and homes, etc. Mitigation can look like flood barriers or other flood prevention techniques, storm preparedness, such as building shelters or providing materials to fortify houses or installing building codes to regulate building activity. This is an important step as it is the bit that could potentially save a lot of lives and economic damage as a result of an emergency event as well. Think of this as the pre-emergency procedures stage that is intended to minimize potential damage because of an incident. Anything that can be done, will be done, and there is a lot of communication and resource management to take into account here.


Preparedness can go in varying directions. A part of this stage is to give people the tools that they need to be prepared in case of an emergency. This could look like training activities, aid agreements with external countries, and making sure the professionals involved in emergency response are up to date with the latest data and statistics to stay vigilant where necessary. This calls for a constant review of established plans to maintain their relevance and validity as pertains potential disasters or incidents. But it also calls for updating the public and informing them. Training programs are a useful part of the preparedness stage and can enable people to act for themselves and have a better response if the time comes where they need to act.


The response branch of the job is what happens on the ground when disaster strikes. These actions are what happen when the planning and prevention stages are not sufficient enough measures. This is where all the preparedness training comes into play to minimize loss of life or damage to property and monetary costs. If the circumstance allows, a response can also reference what happens immediately before a disaster hits. This could look like the evacuation of areas sometimes big and sometimes small, and also making sure there is widespread access available to any and all emergency shelters.


The recovery stage is the final step in Emergency Management. What this looks like depends on what transcended during the emergency part of the process. Recovery can be a long venture, or it can be more immediate, depending on what happened exactly, how long ago it happened, and the consequences that were left as a result.


Emergency Management is not a simple task. There might be hundreds of workforce people to manage, and thousands of civilians to protect. It involves planning, conciseness, integrity, and a strong mind to carry it to a successful end point. If done right, it can prevent loss of life and save whole communities.

If you feel you have what it takes to manage emergency situations, look into a career in emergency management.