Emergency Management: A Reference Handbook

By Jeffrey B. Bumgarner | Go to book overview

1
Background and History

History of Emergency Management
and Disaster Response

When speaking of emergency management and disaster response, it is necessary to distinguish between the activity and the professional discipline. The discipline of emergency management is relatively new. For many years, it had been considered a subdiscipline of public administration and public safety. More recently, the field of emergency management has begun to assume an identity of its own—still related to public administration (just as criminal justice administration is), but nonetheless demonstrating its own distinct professional skill set.

The activity of emergency management and disaster response, by contrast, has been around since the beginning of recorded history. Although many definitions exist in the disaster literature, emergency management can be defined simply as man’s attempt to identify and deal with potential and actual large-scale hazards, threats, and disasters. The qualifier “large scale” is included here because we are speaking of events that could and do impact many people. A house fire is an emergency—certainly for the occupants involved. It is a crisis, and public safety personnel must manage the situation. But it is not necessarily an emergency management event unless perhaps the fire threatens to spread to the whole block. This is consistent with David Alexander’s (2002, 1) definition of an “emergency” in this context, which he defined as “an exceptional event that exceeds the capacity of normal resources and organization to cope with

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Emergency Management: A Reference Handbook
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page v
  • Contents ix
  • Preface xiii
  • 1 - Background and History 1
  • 2 - Problems, Controversies, and Solutions 33
  • 3 - Worldwide Perspective 73
  • 4 - Chronology 105
  • 5 - Biographical Sketches 129
  • 6 - Data and Documents 155
  • 7 - Directory of Organizations 199
  • 8 - Resources 237
  • Glossary 267
  • Index 277
  • About the Author 293
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