History of OEM

One of the basic functions of government is to protect the lives and property of its citizens. Normally, this function is performed in an efficient and effective manner by many different agencies on a daily basis. In most communities police, fire, emergency medical, health, welfare, public works and other governmental and volunteer organizations have specific duties and responsibilities.

In an emergency or catastrophic event, these organizations must pool their resources and work together as a team to mitigate the effects on a community. A coordinated, cooperative response to an emergency does not just happen, it requires planning, mitigation, response and recovery. This is what emergency management is all about.

The roles and responsibilities of the State Office of Emergency Management have changed over the years since the passage of the Civil Defense and Disaster Control Act of 1950. During the 1950’s and 1960’s, the state “Civil Defense” office was primarily responsible for coordination with its designated federal counterpart to disseminate information on civil defense, to maintain civil defense communications, and to provide for civil defense training programs.

The increase of technological disasters in the 1970’s and 1980’s precipitated the transition to an all-hazard approach to emergency management and the emergence of state offices with a much broader scope of responsibility. The State Office of Emergency Management office has evolved as being a small agency with limited planning, training, and response capabilities to its present status as an integral part of state government.

Similarly, emergency management is not just concerned with natural and technological hazards, but with national security hazards as well. Legitimate civil defense and legitimate emergency management should both be all-hazards. The primary difference is the priority civil defense gives to national security emergency preparedness. For all intents and purposes, good civil defense and good emergency management should be indistinguishable at the local level. Thus, from a good program designed exclusively to help State and local governments protect the population from nuclear attack, the civil defense program now provides the fundamental framework for an all-hazard “dual use” program of integrated emergency management at the Federal, State, and local levels.