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Emergency Terminology
​The following is a list of common Emergency Management terms you and your family should know:

ALS- Advanced Life Support. The advanced pre-hospital and inter-hospital emergency medical care of those with serious illness or injury. Performed by appropriately trained health professionals.

BLS- Basic Life Support. An emergency medical service normally provided with ambulance response.

CONTAMINATION- The deposit of radioactive or other hazardous substances on the surface of structures, land surface, objects or persons following a nuclear explosion or during an accident or incident involving the release of a hazardous substance.

DAMAGE ASSESSMENT- Appraisal of the actual damage effects from a disaster.

DECONTAMINATION- The reduction or removal of contaminating particles. May be accomplished by treating the surface to remove or decrease the contamination, by letting the material stand so that radioactivity may be decreased as a result of natural decay or by covering the contamination.

DISASTER- An occurrence such as severe and adverse weather, famine, fire, explosion, building collapse, transportation accident, nuclear accident, or other situations that may cause human suffering or create human needs that victims cannot alleviate without assistance.

EAS- Emergency Alert System. Replaces the former EBS (Emergency Broadcast System). The system of radio and television stations and cable television networks authorized by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to operate in a controlled manner during disasters. Used to get emergency messages to the public.

EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT- The planning, assignment and coordination of all available resources in a program of prevention, mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery for emergencies of any kind, whether from enemy attack, man-made or natural sources.

EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT COORDINATOR- Appointed by the Governor at the recommendation of the county commissioners or local elected officials to coordinate the entire spectrum of emergency activities.

EMS- Emergency Medical Services.

EMT- Emergency Medical Technician.

EMT-P- Emergency Medical Technician Paramedic.

EOC- Emergency Operations Center.

EMERGENCY OPERATIONS PLAN- A clear and concise documented description of action to be taken or instructions to all individuals and local government services stating what will be done in the event of an emergency.

EVACUATION- A protective action of moving people from a place of danger to a place of relative safety. A temporary mass movement of people in coping with community threats, damages or disruptions.

FEDERAL EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY- Commonly known as FEMA. Created in 1979 by Congress to provide a single point of accountability for all federal activities related to disaster mitigation and emergency preparedness, response and recovery.

FLOOD INSURANCE- The insurance coverage provided under the National Flood Insurance Program. This coverage is available through many insurance agents in Mifflin County.

FLOOD INSURANCE RATE MAP- More commonly referred to as FIRM. This is the official map of a community prepared by FEMA. It shows the base flood elevation (BFE) and any special hazard areas . This map also shows the risk premium zones.

FLOODPLAIN- Any normally dry land area that is susceptible to being inundated by water from any natural source. Usually this area is low and adjacent to a river, stream, watercourse, ocean or lake.

FLOODPLAIN MANAGEMENT- Sometimes referred to as FPM. This is a program of corrective and preventive measures for reducing flood damage, including but not limited to flood control projects, floodplain land use regulations, flood proofing buildings, and emergency preparedness plans.

HAZMAT- This is short for Hazardous Materials. Included is any substance or material in a quantity or form which may be harmful or injurious to humans, animals, wildlife, economic crops, or property when released into the environment. Hazardous materials are classified as chemical, biological, radiological or explosive.
.....CHEMICAL : Toxic, corrosive or injurious substance because of inherent chemical properties.
.....BIOLOGICAL : Micro-organism or associated products which may cause disease in humans, animals, or economic crops and includes pathogenic wastes.
.....RADIOLOGICAL : Any radioactive substance emitting ionizing radiation at a level to produce a health hazard.
.....EXPLOSIVE : Material capable of releasing energy with blast effect in a split second upon activation. The released energy usually damages or destroys objects in close proximity to the blast.

HAZARD MITIGATION- Any cost effective measure taken to reduce or eliminate the long-term risk to human life and property from natural hazards.

INCIDENT COMMANDER- Sometimes referred to as the IC. The individual in charge at the scene of an incident.

INCIDENT COMMAND SYSTEM- Sometimes referred to ICS. An operational management system based upon the concept of "span of control" and functional responsibility used in controlling emergency operations. Obtains its overall guidance from and reports to an EOC.

IFLOWS- Integrated Flood Observation and Warning System. Combines existing sensor, communications and computer technology with advanced forecasting and software techniques to provide timely guidance and advice to state and local authorities responsible for providing flood warning to citizens. Mifflin County participates in the IFLOWS program.

LOCAL DISASTER EMERGENCY- Declared by the elected officials of a township or borough when, in their judgement, the threat or actual occurrence of a disaster is or threatens to be of sufficient severity and magnitude to warrant coordinated local government action to prevent or alleviate the damage, loss, hardship or suffering that is threatened or caused.

MASS CARE CENTER- A facility suitable for providing emergency lodging for victims temporarily left homeless by a disaster.

MIFFLIN COUNTY OFFICE OF PUBLIC SAFETY- The county agency responsible for the prevention and minimization of injury and damage caused by disaster, and the coordination of  prompt and effective response to disaster and disaster emergency relief and recovery efforts after a disaster.

NATIONAL FLOOD INSURANCE PROGRAM- Provides federal backing so property owners can afford flood insurance protection.

PENNSYLVANIA EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY- Commonly referred to as PEMA. The Commonwealth agency responsible for the prevention and minimization of injury and damage caused by disaster, and the coordination of prompt and effective response to disaster and disaster emergency relief and recovery.

PUBLIC ASSISTANCE- Supplementary federal assistance provided to the Commonwealth, county and municipal governments and eligible private, non-profit organizations following a disaster.

R.A.C.E.S.- Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service. Skilled and licensed radio amateurs who volunteer their services in accordance with approved emergency management communications plans. Mifflin County Emergency Services has an active R.A.C.E.S. unit.

ROBERT T. STAFFORD ACT- The proper name is the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act. Governor Tom Ridge was instrumental in writing this important legislation when he was serving in Congress. This act gives the President broad powers to supplement the efforts and available resources of state and local governments in carrying out their responsibilities to alleviate suffering and damage resulting from a major disaster or emergency. When the floods and blizzards struck Mifflin County, governments and residents receiving financial assistance from FEMA were doing so under the provisions of this act.

SEARCH AND RESCUE- Commonly referred to as SAR. The use of organized, trained personnel in an effort to locate lost or missing individuals or aircraft. Mifflin County Emergency Services has a Search and Rescue unit and Squadron 1302 of the Civil Air Patrol is also based at the county EOC.

STAGING AREA- A pre-designated location where resources meet when responding to an emergency. Usually these are large areas capable of handling a number of individuals or pieces of equipment. Staging areas can be used for fire and EMS equipment, police units, hearses, heavy equipment and personnel. These resources are then deployed to disaster areas as they are needed. The areas are managed by staging officers.

STANDARD OPERATING GUIDE- Formerly known as a Standard Operating Procedure. This is written guidance on how a function is to be performed.

STATE OF DISASTER- Exists whenever the Governor issues a declaration of disaster emergency. Is declared by executive order or proclamation of the Governor at any time upon finding that a disaster has occurred or that the occurrence or the threat of a disaster is imminent.

UNMET NEEDS- Needs that local, county or state governments cannot meet due to the unavailability of resources.
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