The Emergency Management philosophy consists of four phases:
Mitigation is any action "determined to be cost-effective which substantially reduces the risk of future damage, hardship, loss, or suffering in any area affected by a major disaster" (Stafford Act, P.L. 93-288, as amended Sec 404). Mitigation saves lives, reduces property damage, and helps to preserve the economy in the disaster area, thus reducing disaster assistance costs. Some examples of mitigation activities within Seward County are:
- Fire Prevention Education
- Building codes and development of structural standards
- Land-use regulations
- Building retention ponds to reduce flooding within the city of Liberal
Planning how to respond should an emergency or disaster occur, and working to increase resources and the ability to effectively respond. Preparedness involves actions which will improve the speed and coordination of the response to an emergency. Planning, training, and exercising are all preparedness activities. Disaster preparedness exercised, ranging from tabletop activities to full scale simulations of disaster situations involving all agencies are conducted to assure that proposed plans and coordination activities will work.
The period of time shortly before, during and after a disaster, during which activities are conducted to save lives and minimize damage. Activation of the local Emergency Operations Center (EOC), search and rescue, and reception and care of disaster victims are some of the response actions. Emergency coordination functions are generally carried out during disaster situations in the local and state EOCs. The EOC houses representatives of each department and organization involved in response activities of the EOC in order to ensure an organized response to the situation, and to ensure the public is given accurate and timely information regarding the disaster.
The period of time when the immediate threat to life and property has passed, and cleanup, repair, and restoration activities become a priority. This stage will continue until the community is returned to normal or near-normal operations. Debris cleanup, damage assessment, and reconstruction are some recovery measures. Joint local, state, and federal damage assessment teams quickly survey damaged areas. The local emergency management office is expected to work closely with the teams to ensure swift completion of the assessment process.
Seward County recognizes that no single agency can, by itself, respond effectively to a disaster. Organizing, planning, responding to, and recovering from a disaster requires teamwork from all aspects of local government, private industry, and volunteer organizations.