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4 Phases of Emergency Management

The Four Phases of Emergency Management:








Preparedness takes the form of plans or procedures designed to save lives and to minimize damage when an emergency occurs.  This is a continuous cycle of planning, organizing, training, equipping, exercising, evaluation and improvement activities to ensure effective coordination and the enhancement of capabilities to prevent, protect against, respond to, recover from and mitigate the effects of natural disasters, acts of terrorism and other man-made disasters.   These activities ensure that when a disaster strikes, emergency managers will be able to provide the best response possible.


In the preparedness phase, emergency managers develop plans of action to manage and counter their risks and take action to build the necessary capabilities needed to implement such plans. Common preparedness measures include:

  • communication plans with easily understandable terminology and methods
  • proper maintenance and training of emergency services
  • development and exercise of emergency population warning methods
  • preparing shelters and evacuation plans
  • stockpiling, inventory, and maintain disaster supplies and equipment

Emergency Managers in the planning phase should be flexible and all encompassing – carefully recognizing the risks and exposures of their respective regions and employing unconventional and atypical means of support. Depending on the region – municipal or private sector emergency services can rapidly be depleted and heavily taxed. The Federal Emergency Management Agency recommends that each person should be prepared to be self-sufficient - able to live without running water, electricity and/or gas, and telephones - for at least three days following a disaster.


Preparedness link include:


The response phase includes the mobilization of the necessary emergency services and first responders in the disaster area.  This is likely to include a first wave of core emergency services, such as firefighters, police and ambulance crews.  Response is defined as the actions taken to save lives and prevent further damage in a disaster or emergency situation. Response is putting preparedness plans into action. Response activities may include damage assessment, search and rescue, fire fighting and sheltering victims.


Organizational response to any significant disaster is based on existing emergency management organizational systems and processes: the Federal Response Plan (FRP) and the Incident Command System (ICS).


Police protection in the Township is provided by the Cheltenham Township Police Department.

Emergency Medical Services are provided by Cheltenham Township Emergency Medical Service.


There are five fire departments in Cheltenham Township which are operated strictly by volunteers. These fire departments are responsible for performing a number of challenging duties such as controlling fires, saving lives, providing emergency services to victims, saving property and protecting the environment.  The departments are: Cheltenham Hook & Ladder #1, La Mott Fire Company, Elkins Park Fire CompanyGlenside Fire Company and Ogontz Fire Company.




Recovery is defined as the actions taken to return the community to normal following a disaster. Repairing, replacing, or rebuilding property are examples of recovery.


The aim of the recovery phase is to restore the affected area to its previous state. It differs from the response phase in its focus; recovery efforts are concerned with issues and decisions that must be made after immediate needs are addressed.  Recovery efforts are primarily concerned with actions that involve rebuilding destroyed property, re-employment, and the repair of other essential infrastructure.  Efforts should be made to “build back better," trying to reduce the pre-disaster risks inherent in the community and infrastructure.  


The Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, Public Law 93-288, as amended (the Stafford Act) was enacted to support state and local governments and their citizens when disasters overwhelm them. The disaster process and disaster aid programs explains the disaster declaration process and provides an overview of available assistance. PEMA assistance


There are individual assistance programs that assist people and businesses following a disaster and help you get back on your feet. Public Assistance Programs provides supplemental federal disaster grant assistance to help state and local governments and certain private non-profit organizations rebuild.




Mitigation is the cornerstone of emergency management. It’s the continuing effort to lessen the impact that disasters have on people and property.  Mitigation is defined as “sustained action that reduces or eliminates long-term risk to people and property from natural hazards and their effects.”


Mitigation efforts attempt to prevent hazards from developing into disasters altogether or to reduce the effects of disasters.  The mitigation phase of emergency management differs from the other phases in that it focuses on long-term measures for reducing or eliminating risk.  The implementation of mitigation strategies is a part of the recovery process if applied after a disaster occurs. 


Mitigation measures can be structural or non-structural. Structural measures use technological solutions like flood levees. Non-structural measures include legislation, land-use planning (e.g. the designation of nonessential land like parks to be used as flood zones), and insurance.  Mitigation is the most cost-efficient method for reducing the affect of hazards, although not always the most suitable.


Any cost-effective action taken to eliminate or reduce the long-term risk to life and property from natural and technological hazards.


The phrase “cost-effective” is added to this definition to stress the important, practical idea that, to be beneficial, a mitigation measure should save money in the long run. If the cost of a mitigation project is less than the long-term costs of disaster recovery and repair for the project area, the mitigation is considered cost-effective.


Through effective mitigation practices we can ensure that fewer people and communities become victims of natural disasters. Mitigation can take many forms. It can involve such actions as:

  • Promoting sound land use planning based on known hazards
  • Buying flood insurance to protect your belongings
  • Relocating or elevating structures out of the floodplain
  • Developing, adopting and enforcing building codes and standards
  • Using fire-retardant materials in new construction
  • Developing and implementing a plan in your business or community to reduce your susceptibility to hazards

Interested in learning more about hazard mitigation?

Commonwealth of Pennsylvania State All-Hazard Mitigation Plan
Each state is required to have a hazard mitigation plan in order to be eligible for certain types of federal mitigation funding. Visit the Hazard Mitigation Forms Page to view the 2010 Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s FEMA/PEMA Approved All-Hazard
Mitigation Plan.


Montgomery County Hazard Mitigation Plan

The federal Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000 requires all municipalities in the nation to have a plan for mitigating the future natural hazards  to which they are vulnerable.  Adoption of the plan by local governments (all townships and boroughs) is crucial as it will be a requirement for all future federal disaster funds.  To assist Montgomery County municipalities in complying with this requirement, the county prepared the Montgomery County Natural Hazards Mitigation Plan, which was adopted by the Montgomery County Commissioners on March 29, 2007. All municipalities in the county adopted the plan as well.  An update of the plan will be completed in 2012.


The plan is based upon an analysis of the county’s overall vulnerability to various types of natural hazards.  Flooding was identified as the most significant natural threat to the county as a whole. Other types of natural hazards that the county or portions of it may be vulnerable to include drought, winter storms, severe wind, subsidence, and radon.  The plan examines measures to reduce these hazards, particularly flooding.  These include public education, warning systems, drainage system maintenance, land use controls, stormwater management, acquisition and relocation, retrofitting, flood plain management, flood control structures, and natural resource protection.


The plan recognizes that the avoidance of disaster is a shared responsibility of various levels of local government, businesses, and residents.  Implementation of the plan will require a variety of actions to lessen the impact of natural disasters. Accomplishing the selected measures in the plan will require cooperation at all levels of government and will take several years to complete.  For information on the plan, contact Michael Stokes at 610.278.3729 or [email protected].


      Cheltenham Township   ~   8230 Old York Road   ~   Elkins Park, PA 19027
      Hours: Monday-Friday, 8AM-4:30PM
      Phone: 215-887-1000   ~   Fax: 215-887-1561
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