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Emergency management and homeland security: Exploring the relationship

Jerome H. Kahan, BA, BS, MSEE

Abstract


In the years after the 9/11 tragedy, the United States continues to face risks from all forms of major disasters, from potentially dangerous terrorist attacks to catastrophic acts of nature. Professionals in the fields of emergency management and homeland security have responsibilities for ensuring that all levels of government, urban areas and communities, nongovernmental organizations, businesses, and individual citizens are prepared to deal with such hazards though actions that reduce risks to lives and property. Regrettably, the overall efficiency and effectiveness of the nation's ability to deal with disasters is unnecessarily challenged by the absence of a common understanding on how these fields are related in the workforce and educational arenas. Complicating matters further is the fact that neither of these fields has developed agreed definitions. In many ways, homeland security and emergency management have come to represent two different worlds and cultures. These conditions can have a deleterious effect on preparedness planning for public and private stakeholders across the nation when coordinated responses among federal, state, and local activities are essential for dealing with consequential hazards. This article demonstrates that the fields of emergency management and homeland security share many responsibilities but are not identical in scope or skills. It argues that emergency management should be considered a critical subset of the far broader and more strategic field of homeland security. From analytically based conclusions, it recommends five steps that be taken to bring these fields closer together to benefit more from their synergist relationship as well as from their individual contributions.


Keywords


emergency management, homeland security, disaster response, Department of Homeland Security, FEMA, NEMA, first responders, emergency managers, IAEM

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References


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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5055/jem.2015.0258

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