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Disasters, manmade or natural, have always existed and always will, significantly impacting human life and environment. As stipulated in the Constitution, the United States bears responsibility for public safety and well-being. In order to deal with public risks in the most effective way, emergency management was established as one of the most important tasks of the government, and an emergency operations plan as its key part.
An EOP is an integrated part of national preparedness. Focused on planning, organizing, equipping, training and exercising, preparedness embraces all capabilities starting from disaster prevention to recovery off it. Therefore, the National Preparedness Goal cannot be reached without shifting from simple thinking to developing capabilities. Therefore, in order to ensure an effective EOP, it is necessary to build and sustain core capabilities within each of five mission areas.
How Five Mission Areas Are Related to an Effective EOP?
Dealing with disasters, it should be noted that success highly depends on how prepared and coordinated people are. The main purpose of an EOP is to ensure preparedness for threats and hazards on both local and national levels. In order to achieve this goal, an EOP should be based on capabilities. In that aspect, an EOP is closely related to mission areas.
Mission area is a set of capabilities needed to accomplish the function at any phase of an incident. Well-developed EOP should rely on key capabilities of each mission. Planning, public warning and operational coordination capabilities play important roles in all five mission areas. These functions are necessary to execute each mission area, hence, to achieve the Nationwide Preparedness Goal.
Prevention mission area aims avoidance, prevention, and stoppage of a disaster. Besides three core capabilities, prevention mission area includes such capabilities, as intelligence and information sharing; forensics and attribution; screening; and detection. An EOP should refer to these capabilities while planning preventive measures against disasters.
Protection mission area is required to ensure safety when a threat or calamity occurred. It includes the following capabilities: access control, information sharing, cyber-security, physical protective operations, interdiction, risk management, and supply chain integrity.
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Mitigation mission area refers to reducing the impact of threats, decreasing losses of life and property. Mitigation mission area embraces community resilience, resilience assessment, continuous vulnerability reduction, and threats identification.
Response mission area encloses capabilities required to save lives, ensure human survival, and protect property after a calamity has occurred. The following capabilities lie in the root of this mission: transportation and evacuation, management services, environmental response, mass search and rescue activity, on-scene protection and security, mass medical services, operational communications, and situational assessment.
Recovery mission area is called to help communities affected by a disaster to recover from damages. An EOP should include the following articles: healthcare and social services, economic rehabilitation, housing, natural and cultural resources renovation, as well as infrastructures recovery.
Five Mission Areas as Related to a Disaster
Dealing with a disaster, five mission areas are implemented in the order:
1. Prevention - developing a preventive strategic; delivering reliable and accessible information for the community regarding a disaster; uniting stakeholders to ensure core capabilities implementation; identifying a possible threat by all means.
2. Protection - building urgent operational strategic; delivering reliable and actionable information regarding current situation of a disaster; coordinating actions aimed on protection of human lives and property; applying all possible measures to control access to strategic locations and closing up all facilities ruination of which may cause critical damages; protecting against damage to infrastructures and communication systems; diverting new or derived threats; strengthening the security and resilience of community.
3. Mitigations - sustaining resilience of the community to reduce its vulnerability to similar disasters; identifying victims; stabilizing basic infrastructure functions; ensuring survival of affected population with emphasis on feeding, hydration and sheltering; providing emergency power, fuel support as well as medical treatment to affected populations even in remote locations.
4. Response - providing critical evacuation and transportation to the safe zone, ensuring the guidance and resources to affected persons, body recovering.
5. Recovery - returning all activities to a normal state; restoring infrastructures; protecting and rehabilitating cultural and natural resources.
What Changes Could Be Implemented to Strengthen EOP?
The need to secure people from all hazards and threats gave impulse to create two of the most significant documents of FEMA - the Stafford Act in 1988, and Post-Katrina Emergency Reform Act in 2005. Since then, many documents, acts and regulations appeared with the purpose to ensure the National Preparedness. The majority pay attention to financial and physical issues of a disaster. Nevertheless, affected population and victims of disasters may need psychological aid; therefore, recovery mission area should include psychological support capability too. As well, those who cannot stay indifferent to the calamity aftermath must have the possibility to help victims financially by transferring money or physically by volunteer activity. Therefore, there must be an article in an existing document or a separate regulating act, which can be applied to all cases, not to a specific one.