Emergency management in US

221 views 7 pages ~ 1769 words
Get a Custom Essay Writer Just For You!

Experts in this subject field are ready to write an original essay following your instructions to the dot!

Hire a Writer

Terrorist attacks and natural catastrophes, such as hurricanes, have pushed the US government to be prepared to act as a first responder in the event of a crisis. The disasters have put theories and notions about information sharing, managerial authorities, communication, resource allocation, and disaster preparedness, response, and recovery to the test. As a result of these factors, several initiatives have been launched at the local, state, and federal levels (Catalino, 2015). Communities are approaching emergency management from new angles, including private-public partnerships and community-based planning. The Homeland Security Act (HSA) of 2002, for example, addressed several components of the catastrophe life cycle, such as preparedness, response, recovery, and mitigation. The HSA has led to the restructuring of several federal agencies among them the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Additionally, storms such as the Hurricane Katrina of 2005 have resulted in the establishment of the Post-Katrina Act to address disaster preparedness (Catalino, 2015). The Act has addressed the deficiencies in emergency management capabilities, roles, and functions of the federal government. The issues identified by the Act have comprised of organization-specific provisions for FEMA and DHS (Department of Homeland Security), regional preparedness, disaster planning and assistance activities.

FEMA has undergone transformations over the years as a result of changes in disaster and leadership. For example, during the President Clinton’s era, the Federal Response Plan (FRP) has been developed. FRP has been to bring consensus among the federal agencies and establish a coordinating element to serve, as the federal resource has been based for supporting local and state governments when disasters have exceeded their capacity (Catalino, 2015). On the other hand, President Bush' administration has attempted to overhaul FRP by establishing the NRP (National Response Plan). NRP has addressed the expansion of response capabilities and responsibilities from the federal government to a national interest that incorporated the tribal, state, local and private sectors. In 2006, the NRP has focused on reorganizing the DHS following the federal lessons learned from the Hurricane Katrina. In 2008, NRP has changed from a plan to a framework, the National Response Framework. The NRF has dedicated the support function to the private sector. These continuous legislative efforts by the government address the numerous inadequacies and complexities across the emergency management lifecycle.

Legal Issues

Despite the establishment of effective legislation for emergency management, various fundamental legal issues are faced. One of the legal challenges entails the international assistance. The US has an intensive experience in offering assistance to other nations but has strict regulations when receiving help during a homeland disaster. For instance, during the Hurricane Katrina, countries such as Mexico have sent a mobile kitchen to offer food; Germany and Denmark have sent water pumps, while Canada has sent ground troops. Nonetheless, regulations in the US Agriculture Department have prevented the use of food from foreign nations whose health standards have not met US regulations (Johnson, n.d.). Moreover, the process of accepting these gifts has had to be established hence derailing the immediate responsiveness to the disaster. Additionally, rules for operating for the ground officers have had also to be established such as rules for medical credentials and use of force.

Notably, the ability for the federal government to respond to an emergency is constrained by the Constitutional provisions that reserve police power to the states. These countries have the authority to call for the National Guard to quell civil disturbances, suppress insurrections, and respond to natural disasters as well as other catastrophic events. Notably, there are regulations concerning Incident Awareness and Assessment, IAA. One needs to have the authority to utilize intelligence assets during a natural disaster. The Department of Defense (DoD) only authorizes the use of counterintelligence and foreign intelligence (Johnson, n.d.). Ultimately, the use of information about non-DoD persons, organizations, and US persons is restricted based on the mission of the DoD component involved. Force protection when sending troops’ rules are very restrictive in the homeland. The sensitive information falls into two categories. The first type deals with information on US persons subject to Intelligence Oversight rules. The rules in the category apply only to the DoD intelligence components. The second type deals with organizations and individuals not affiliated with DoD such that the collection, reporting, and processing of their information is not permitted.

Resource Management

Responding resources coordination is critical while disasters. Disaster tasks may demand the use of resources from multiple jurisdictions and organizations and utilize unusual resources. For instance, the action report for response to the Boston Marathon Bombings describes some of the resources that have been used (MEMA, 2014). The emergency alerting systems of Boston and Watertown have been utilized to pass information to the public. The residents have received information via landline phones, text messages, email, and cell phone. Both the WatertownALERT and ALERTBoston have been issued to inform the residents of to shelter-in-place. On the other hand, MEMA (Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency) has utilized the Massachusetts Alerts, a smartphone app, to communicate emergency information to the public. The staff of the Mayor’s Help Line has managed the information as the shelter-in-place request guidance spread throughout the day. Earlier on, the Mayor's Chief of Staff has contacted the Help Line Director about the shootings and staffing has been ramped up at the Help Line in anticipation of the increased call volume. Consequently, the Help Line was able to handle 3,000 calls whereby 99% have been answered within thirty seconds (MEMA, 2014).

Notably, the shelter-in-place request has generated a significant level of concern among healthcare facilities. The BPHC (Boston Public Health Commission’s), MDPH (Massachusetts Department of Public Health), and DOC (Department Operations Center) have been activated to coordinate information for hospitals. They have been to provide situational awareness and respond to questions from hospitals about the request to shelter-in-place effects (MEMA, 2014). The healthcare providers have needed to know if the travel has been necessary, the need to alter shifts, make deliveries for medical equipment or the conduction of critical supplies such as linens.

Notably, the Massachusetts National Guard, MANG has coordinated key resources that have assisted the law enforcement personnel to follow up the investigation leads. MANG has provided helicopters, which have transported the Specialized Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team key locations where investigators have believed the suspect to be located. However, the process lacked in-field command such that there has been confusion on who has possessed the overall authority in ongoing law enforcement activities. Moreover, there has been a lack of weapon discipline hence prompting the need for additional training on weapon discipline (MEMA, 2014). Based on the Boston case, it can be deduced that fire departments, police departments, hospitals, and ambulance companies operate during 24 hours during emergencies. They can also call in the off-duty personnel and double or triple the manpower.

Technology for Emergency Management

Technology has become one of the fastest growing and useful emergency management tools. Technology-based solutions allow emergency managers to keep each other in the loop and save lives during disasters. Technology can restore connectivity by allowing the government agencies to broadcast to citizens. The tool has been critical in disaster predictions whereby advanced software programs utilize statistics and modeling to track, collect and analyze disaster data. For instance, the GPA based geographic hazard mapping has empowered emergency organizations and government agencies to identify areas prone to disasters. Moreover, early warning systems have been developed with FEMA offering unique text messaging services that give subscribers updates concerning emergencies and disasters. Furthermore, weather apps and web-based weather services such as AccuWeather and Intellicast allow its users to subscribe to emergency weather updates.

Significantly, the cloud is affecting emergency management organizations by transforming the management responses and preparation activities. During a disaster, damage and an overload are caused to the telecommunications systems and equipment hence burdening the emergency communications systems. Nevertheless, the cloud-based solutions solve the problem, since data is stored away from the disaster and can be retrieved. The scalability of these solutions is also flexible implying that IT administrators can restrict volume and online traffic to aid emergency responders. Finally, the use of social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube give valuable information about emergency preparedness. These virtual networks raise awareness and issue public warnings with the aim of influencing response times and streamlining the emergency management agencies’ operations (MEMA, 2014). The continuous technological advancement has seen the introduction of emerging technologies in emergency management. Some of these technologies include the SimulationDeck, Intellistreets, and iDAWG (Intelligent Deployable Augmented Wireless Gateway).

Recommendations and Conclusions

Unless various strategies are established, emergency management agencies will continue to grapple with the legal issues arising from natural and manmade disaster relief situations. For instance, the federal government needs to work towards ensuring unity of effort. The goal can be achieved through improved coordination and communication. Every state sovereign has its militia making it difficult for Title 10 Forces to achieve command unity. Therefore, the unity of effort can be achieved through the development of a coordinating authority between the non-Federalized National Guard Forces and Title 10 Forces. Therefore, there will be insights of how Title 32 funds, regulations, capabilities, missions and the use of force to promote the unity of effort among all forces are spent.

Notably, the establishment of a dual-status commander can help achieve unity of effort. The command has been discussed during the hurricane season in 2005 but has not been implemented (Johnson, n.d.). There are two types of dual-status commanders. One involves giving a Title 10 officer commission in a state National Guard permitting him or her to have control and exercise command over the federal status forces and the state status National Guard forces. The other type entails placing a National Guard officer on Title 10 orders while he or she remains the state authority. Both of these options will provide unity of effort instead of unity of command hence permitting the state and military forces to enhance their situational awareness.

Additionally, the command arrangement does not authorize the use of Title 32 funds making it a separate process (Johnson, n.d.). Conclusively, the federal government needs to constantly ensure its employment of community-based planning comparing to a federal-centric approach to disaster preparedness. The strategy will ensure vulnerable and at-risk individuals’ needs to be addressed before and during disasters.


Catalino, J. (2015). The impact of federal emergency management legislation on at-risk and vulnerable populations for disaster preparedness and response. Walden University.

Johnson K. (n.d.). Disaster response: Key legal issues for US Northern Command. Global Legal Challenges: Command of the Commons, Strategic Communications, and Natural Disasters, 83, 278-291.

Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (2014). After action report for the response to the 2013 Boston Marathon Bombings. Retried on 2014 from http://www.mass.gov/eopss/docs/mema/after-action-report-for-the-response-to-the-2013-boston-marathon-bombings.pdf

May 17, 2023


Number of pages


Number of words




Writer #



Expertise Role of Government
Verified writer

Participating in gun control for my college class, I worked with Lennon70 who took just a quick look at the replies and helped me participate in the most efficient way. A great writer who is a lot of fun!

Hire Writer

This sample could have been used by your fellow student... Get your own unique essay on any topic and submit it by the deadline.

Eliminate the stress of Research and Writing!

Hire one of our experts to create a completely original paper even in 3 hours!

Hire a Pro

Similar Categories