High-Quality Emergency Operations Planning (EOP)

1.2 Phases of Emergency Management

Emergency management is defined by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as “the managerial function charged with creating the framework within which communities reduce vulnerability to hazards and cope with disasters.” While emergency management as a field of practice and study is relatively young, the concepts behind modern emergency management have been in practice for many years. From disaster management to civil defense, the ideas and practices of emergency management continue to be refined.

Each phase of emergency management has been the focal point of training at all levels of government. Much of this training is available to school personnel at no cost. We have provided direct links to FEMA Independent Study courses below to assist you with better understanding how each phase supports the resiliency of both the school and community. While the FEMA trainings listed in this section are not required prior to developing an EOP, they are highly recommended as supplemental material, particularly for personnel who are new to emergency management planning.


The preparedness phase of emergency management consists of the many activities schools conduct to increase their level of readiness to respond to emergencies and disasters. These activities typically increase the technical and managerial capacity of the district for dealing with the operational, logistical, and financial impacts of emergency situations. Preparedness activities include, but are not limited to:

  • Developing EOPs
  • Revising policies and plans
  • Conducting training and exercises
  • Conducting public education activities
  • Inventorying resources
  • Establishing mutual aid agreements


The response phase is the most recognized phase of the emergency management cycle. The intent of the response phase is to provide immediate, life-saving and property-preserving assistance during times of emergency or disaster. The focus of this phase is to meet the basic needs of the students, faculty, staff, and surrounding community until a more permanent series of solutions can be identified. Response activities include, but are not limited to:

  • Providing first aid
  • Evacuation
  • Sheltering in place
  • Suppression of fires


The recovery phase typically begins immediately following the impact of a threat or hazard and gains momentum as the emergency is brought under control. This phase is characterized by the activities undertaken by the school and community to establish a “new normal”. Recovery activities include, but are not limited to:

  • Rebuilding of facilities
  • Restoration of school services
  • Counseling programs
  • Documentation of lessons learned


The mitigation phase focuses on activities that eliminate or reduce the probability of disaster occurrence for preventable threats and hazards and the reduction of impacts from unavoidable disasters. The effectiveness of mitigation is dependent on the shaping of district and campus policy to sustain mitigation activities. Mitigation activities include, but are not limited to:

  • Retrofitting structures
  • Updating/conducting vulnerability assessments
  • Conducting public education activities
  • Purchasing insurance for persons and property