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
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.
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 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
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.