Emergency management is a system of dealing with disaster that includes preparedness as well as response to a disaster, whether natural or man-made.
Emergency Management Responsibilities
Typically the responsibilty for emergency management is set at the lowest levels of government or the private sector. For example a public school or a private business is respondible for preparing their own emergency response plans.
Private Sector Responsibilities
Individuals and families are responsible for preparing for disasters and cannot rely upon the government to come to their rescue during an emergency. The government is charged with "doing the most good for the most people" which may mean that a particular neighborhood, business or family is left on their own until higher priorities are handled. Government authorities recommend that individuals and families prepare their own emergency management plans and stock at least three days (72 hours) worth of supplies for any possible disaster.
Private companies such as hospitals, nursing homes, retail businesses and corporations should have their own emergency management plan to cover their employees and those they serve. Corporations such as utility companies, fuel storage/processing companies and chemical manufacturers should have specially trained responders to handle disasters involving their services or products. Certain private corporations may be designated as "vital infrastructure" and either mandated by government to have emergency management plans in place and/or be offered special support in developing/implementing these plans.
Local Government Responsibilites
For communities the local fire department and office of emergency management typically share responsibility for planning and coordinating the responses to most disasters. For some man-made disasters such as civil unrest the police join with these other agencies in preparing and executing responses to the disasters.
State or Province Responsibiltiies
State and Provincial governments have the authority to designate a local crisis as a regional disaster invoking additional government powers and responders such as the National Guard or militia. Designation of a regional disaster also allows for national or federal assistance in response and recovery efforts.
National Government Responsibilities
The higher the level of leadership the less they are involved in response side of emergency management and the more they are involved in regulating and supporting local emergency management. An example of this is the US Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) which developed guidelines and training for local governments wanting to participate in the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program. Typically the authority to send a national response to a disaster depends on the state or provincial governor first requesting it. In the United States this is in keeping with the doctrine that "federal authority is limited authority" and it may not usurp the authority of the states.
Non-Governmental Agencies (NGO's) such as the American Red Cross (ARC) and Search And Rescue Dogs of the United States (SARDUS) provide support for government agencies as well as training and aid for the private sector before (planning stage), during (response stage) and after (recovery stage) a disaster. Some NGO's are not-for-profit groups while others are professionals hired for their expertise. Zombie Squad is also a NGO which provides training in creating private individual and family emergency management plans as well as aids in disaster recovery through charitable activities.