Home Opinion Why Effective Emergency Management Requires Goals and Policies

Why Effective Emergency Management Requires Goals and Policies


By Allison G. S. Knox
Contributor, EDM Digest

Setting goals is an important component of policy-making in the American government system. Goals establish the overall framework for how a policy should be created, highlighting the resources and administration needed for the given policy.

The U.S. government system often puts policies in place to further solidify how special problems are handled at the local, state and federal levels. When it comes to emergency planning, it has become increasingly important to specify certain aspects of emergency management in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

For example, Virginia  has established a series of emergency management laws to help map out overall goals and plans for first responder organizations. While it seems relatively obvious that emergency management would be handled in such a way to protect lives and property, the way the policies are written establishes the overall goals for how things should be handled in a crisis.

Policies as Goals

Specific policies highlight how an organization will work on a given issue. But emergency management policies need to be especially clear, so that first responder organizations can easily understand how an emergency should be handled. Without this precedent, effective emergency management is difficult.

Laying the Framework for Collaboration

Collaboration and leadership are important components of effective emergency management. Just as resources are needed in managing an emergency, collaboration among federal agencies is essential to providing the appropriate and necessary resources. Without policies and goals specified within a policy, it is difficult to envision just how resources and collaboration would come together at any level of government.

In emergency management, collaboration is an especially important piece of the puzzle. For instance, the Virginia Emergency Management Office specified collaboration with other departments in its 2015 policy document. Doing so highlighted an overall vision and plan, ensuring that emergencies are effectively handled.

Policy Considerations

Goals are a major component of a policy because they highlight what a community wants to do in response to an event. Because emergency managers need to adapt to any circumstances and have contingency plans, emergency management plans establish goals for how the government will handle emergency situations. Without these plans, policies and goals, it is difficult to effectively manage any crisis.

Allison G. S. Knox Passionate about the issues affecting ambulances and disaster management, Allison focuses on Emergency Management and Emergency Medical Services policy. Allison has taught at the undergraduate level since 2010. Prior to teaching, she worked in a level-one trauma center emergency department and for a member of Congress in Washington, D.C. She holds four master’s degrees in Emergency Management, National Security Studies, International Relations, and History; a Graduate Certificate in Homeland Security; and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. Allison is an Emergency Medical Technician, Lifeguard, and Lifeguard Instructor, and is trained in Technical Large Animal Emergency Rescue. She serves on the Board of Trustees for Pi Gamma Mu International Honor Society as Chancellor of the Southeast Region, Vice Chair of the Tactical Emergency Medical Support Committee with the International Public Safety Association, and serves as the Advocacy Coordinator of Virginia with the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians. She is also a member of several committees including the Editorial Committee with APCO, the Rescue Task Force Committee with the International Public Safety Association, and the Advocacy Committee with the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians. She also serves as Chair of the Leadership Development Program for the 2020 Pi Gamma Mu Triennial Convention. Allison has published several book reviews and continues to write about issues affecting ambulances, emergency management, and homeland security.