From our Week 8 readings, we see that the field of emergency management including the Incident Command System and NIMS have changed drastically over the years. The NIC has been developed in order to make sure that our incident management systems are as efficient and effective as possible. Going forward, there will inevitably be changes that will positively impact our emergency response and disaster planning organizations. In the past 50 years, we have seen significant changes in the field of emergency management in our country. Some of the notable turning points in the field of emergency management include the following:
1974 – Disaster Relief Act of 1974 - The Disaster Relief Act of 1974 authorized the president of the United States to implement a program of disaster preparedness and relief aid that would enable the use of all federal agencies. The Disaster Relief Act of 1974 states that any federal assistance offered is dependent upon the president authorizing such aid in the form of issuing a declaration.
1979 – FEMA is created.
1988 – Stafford Act - Part of the reason for the change from the Disaster Relief Act of 1974 to the Stafford Act was the fact that the federal government was concerned about expanding disaster declarations beyond only natural disasters, and this included other types of incidents such as technological disasters (Three Mile Island in PA) and other instances outside the scope of natural disasters. Terrorism is not yet included. Federal assistance could be requested by the state on behalf of either the local government or state government. However, the request from the state must come from the governor.
2002 - Homeland Security Act - The September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks resulted in the creation of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). FEMA is now included under the umbrella of DHS.
HSPD-5 established the National Incident Management System (NIMS) and the National Response Plan (NRP).
HSPD-8 established policies to strengthen the preparedness of the United States to prevent and respond to threatened or actual domestic terrorist attacks, major disasters, and other emergencies by requiring a national domestic all-hazards preparedness goal, establishing mechanisms for improved delivery of Federal preparedness assistance to State and local governments and outlining actions to strengthen preparedness capabilities of Federal, State, and local entities.
2005 – Post-Katrina Emergency Management Reform Act – the performance of FEMA and other emergency management agencies during Hurricane Katrina results in the Post-Katrina Emergency Management Reform Act (PKEMRA) of 2006. The act enhances FEMA's responsibilities and its autonomy within DHS. Significant and meaningful changes to FEMA were made to increase preparedness levels of the general population and aid in mitigation and resilience efforts. These changes also included incident management assistance teams, pre-positioning of resources, expedited federal services, and including considerations for individuals with special needs.
2012 – Sandy Recovery Improvement Act of 2013 – Hurricane Sandy was the first major test for FEMA after Hurricane Katrina prompted the changes seen in the PKEMRA. SRIA changes the way that FEMA can deliver federal disaster assistance to survivors. Further improvements to disaster assistance are included in the Disaster Recovery Reform Act of 2018.
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