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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

State Emergency Management Program

State activities conducted through the EMA to mitigate, prepare for, respond to, and recover from emergencies or disasters constitute the State EMP.[2] It is recommended that the State EMP fully integrate public health and acute-care medical entities with other response disciplines (e.g., fire/EMS, emergency management). This will enhance special public health initiatives, such as bioterrorism preparedness programs, by promoting interdisciplinary cooperation and integration.

State EMPs often include exercises to test the State EOP. Even if an exercise scenario does not have a primary public health or medical focus, planners should include public health and medical representatives at the outset of the exercise planning process. This enhances integration by allowing personnel from all disciplines to familiarize themselves with the plan and with each other. It may also benefit non-health responders, since almost every incident response has public shealth and medical implications, even if they are not immediately realized. Information that contributes to maintaining the health of responders can be critical, regardless of whether the event involves human victims. An example would be health examination of food sources for field providers on an extended environmental incident.

An important aim of the State EMP should be to bridge any coordination gap that may exist between public health and public safety agencies. Because public health has evolved primarily as a State-based authority, it may be difficult during disaster or emergency response to effectively coordinate with public safety, which usually manages events from the local jurisdictional government level. In addition, public health personnel historically are not well experienced in the ICS processes practiced by public safety and emergency management agencies (though this is changing). Therefore, preparedness planning should examine the operational methods necessary to integrate State public health with local emergency management and public safety during incident response.

The State EMP may contain strategic or "master" guidelines that govern tactical mutual aid arrangements. [3] The master guidelines stipulate operational requirements for activation of tactical mutual aid (described in Section 5.3.2), such as standardized criteria for designated resources. As applied to medical assistance, master mutual aid guidelines might specifically resolve such major issues as professional licensure, liability risk, worker compensation, and resource mobilization. Moreover, they should specify the processes to request and receive medical and health aid from other States (see Tier 5).


  1. The State EMP may be accredited through the Emergency Management Accreditation Program (EMAP), a voluntary process to assess EMPs through collaboratively developed national standards.
  2. Mutual aid may be guided by "agreements," "memoranda of understanding," or other designations based on the degree of legal obligation desired by the mutual aid partners.

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  • This page last reviewed: February 14, 2012