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Homeland Security

Natural Disaster Response

The National Response Plan establishes a comprehensive all-hazards approach to enhance the ability of the United States to manage domestic incidents. The plan incorporates best practices and procedures from incident management disciplines-homeland security, emergency management, law enforcement, firefighting, public works, public health, responder and recovery worker health and safety, emergency medical services, and the private sector-and integrates them into a unified structure. It forms the basis of how the federal government coordinates with state, local, and tribal governments and the private sector during incidents.

Local and State governments share the responsibility for protecting their citizens from disasters, and for helping them to recover when a disaster strikes. In some cases, a disaster is beyond the capabilities of the State and local government to respond.

Developed by the Secretary of Homeland Security at the request of the President, the National Incident Management System (NIMS) integrates effective practices in emergency preparedness and response into a comprehensive national framework for incident management. The NIMS will enable responders at all levels to work together more effectively to manage domestic incidents no matter what the cause, size or complexity.

The National Incident Management System (NIMS) was developed to provide a system that would help emergency managers and responders from different jurisdictions and disciplines work together more effectively to handle emergencies and disasters. Most incidents are handled on a daily basis by a single, local jurisdiction at the local level, often by fire personnel, EMS and law enforcement. But even for incidents that are relatively limited in scope, coordination and cooperation among the responding oranizations makes for a more effective response.

When the NIMS is adopted and used nationwide it will form a standardized, unified framework for incident management within which government and private entities at all levels can work together effectively. The NIMS provides a set of standardized organizational structures such as the Incident Command System and standardized processes, procedures and systems. These processes and procedures are designed to improve interoperability among jurisdictions and disciplines in various areas -- command and management, resource management, training, communications.

A catastrophic incident, as defined by the NRP, is any natural or manmade incident, including terrorism, that results in extraordinary levels of mass casualties, damage, or disruption severely affecting the population, infrastructure, environment, economy, national morale, and/or government functions. A catastrophic incident could result in sustained national impacts over a prolonged period of time; almost immediately exceeds resources normally available to State, local, tribal, and private-sector authorities in the impacted area; and significantly interrupts governmental operations and emergency services to such an extent that national security could be threatened. All catastrophic incidents are Incidents of National Significance. These factors drive the urgency for coordinated national planning to ensure accelerated Federal/national assistance.

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