What is Emergency Management?

Okanogan County is home to approximately 41,425 residents and is located in North Central Washington, bordered by Canada to the north, Columbia River to the south, Cascade Mountains to the west, and Ferry County to the east.  The County covers 5,281 square miles, making it the largest county in Washington.  Standing alone, the county comprises almost 8 percent of the state's entire land mass.  

Okanogan County Department of Emergency Management (OCDEM) is responsible for coordinating the emergency and disaster needs of the county area including the cities of Brewster, Conconully, Coulee Dam, Elmer City, Nespelem, Omak, Okanogan, Oroville, Pateros, Riverside, Tonasket, Twisp, Winthrop, and numerous unincorporated areas.


Mission Statement

The mission of the Okanogan County Department of Emergency Management is to prepare for, respond to and recover from and mitigate any emergency or disaster that affects Okanogan County and its cities.

Where did Emergency Management originate?

Emergency Management's roots date back to the 1800's in large cities. Over crowding of wooden building and the resulting devastating fires brought the onset of organizations to address this hazard. In 1803 the US Government passed what is regarded as the first national disaster legislation to provide support for a devastating fire in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. These programs grew into the civil defense programs of World War II.

In 1979 the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) was created by consolidation of five other agencies which had each focused on a single hazard. With this came the concept of "comprehensive emergency management." this concept moved away from a single hazard approach, to the all-hazards approach we see today. After the creation of FEMA, many local agencies changed their names to include "emergency management."

Emergency Management Today

Today, using the concept of comprehensive emergency management, Okanogan County Emergency Management aims to, "protect the civilian population and property from the destructive forces of natural and man-made disasters through a comprehensive program of mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery."

Emergency Management activities are divided into four phases; mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery. Activities in the Mitigation Phase work to "eliminate or reduce the chance of occurrence or the effects of a disaster." The Preparedness Phase addresses how we will respond to an disaster in our community. The Response Phase is the time spent immediately after an incident occurs that we are providing direct assistance to the community. The Recovery Phase runs from the end of the Response Phase until activities are back to normal.