Guide to emergency management and related terms, definitions, concepts, acronyms, organizations, programs, guidance & legislation

Assistant Secretary Level Domestic Readiness Group (A/S DRG, DHS)

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Assistant Secretary Level Domestic Readiness Group (A/S DRG, DHS): “The A/S DRG develops and coordinates implementation of preparedness and response policy and in anticipation of or during crises such as natural disasters and domestic terrorist attacks to address issues that cannot be resolved at lower levels and provide strategic policy direction for the Federal response.” (DHS, National Planning and Execution System, 2007 Draft, p. 3-5)
Associate Business Continuity Planner (ABCP): “The Associate Business Continuity Planner (ABCP) or Associate level [offered by DRII], is for individuals with at least a specified minimum level of knowledge in business continuity/disaster recovery planning, but who have not yet attained the two years of experience required for CBCP. Individuals can also qualify if they work in positions related to--but not actually in--business continuity/disaster recovery planning.” (ISSA, Certifications, 2007)

Association of Contingency Planners. ACP is a “non-profit trade association dedicated to the advancement of business continuity professionals. ACP provides…peer-to-peer networking and learning environment for its members through chapters across the country.” ACP Website:

Association of State Floodplain Managers (ASFPM): “The Association of State Floodplain Managers is an organization of professionals involved in floodplain management, flood hazard mitigation, the National Flood Insurance Program, and flood preparedness, warning and recovery. ASFPM has become a respected voice in floodplain management practice and policy in the United States because it represents the flood hazard specialists of local, state and federal government, the research community, the insurance industry, and the fields of engineering, hydrologic forecasting, emergency response, water resources, and others.” (ASFPM, 2007)

ASTHO: Association of State and Territorial Health Officials.
ASTM: American Society for Testing and Measurement.
Asynchronous Replication: “Data replication or mirror in which the application is allowed to continue while the data is mirrored to another site. In this case, the application data can represent a prior state of the application. It is critical to use ordered asynchronous mirroring for real-time applications. This means that each write is applied in the same order at the second or backup site as it was written in the primary site, even if the network has re-ordered the arrival of the data. Associated term: synchronous replication.” (DigitalCare, State of OR Business Continuity Workshop, 2006, 46)
AT: Action Tracker. (FEMA, Mission Assignment SOPs Operating Draft, July 2007, p. 6)
At-Risk Individuals: “…the term `at-risk individuals' means children, pregnant women, senior citizens and other individuals who have special needs in the event of a public health emergency, as determined by the Secretary [HHS].” (Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act, January 3, 2006, Sec. 2802, (b) (4).)
At Risk Populations: “At-risk populations include groups whose needs are not fully addressed by traditional service providers or those who feel they cannot comfortably or safely use the standard resources offered in disaster preparedness, relief, and recovery. They include those who are physically or mentally disabled (blind, deaf, hard-of-hearing, cognitive disorders, or with mobility limitations), people with limited English language skills, geographically or culturally

isolated people, homeless people, elderly individuals, and children.

“Following a widespread emergency, people may find themselves stranded, displaced, destitute, homeless, or sick; or they may experience challenges from the emergency that leave them newly vulnerable or suddenly outside of mainstream communications in ways they did not experience before the emergency. These factors can create new at-risk populations during an emergency.” (CDC/HHS, Locating and Reaching At-Risk Populations in an Emergency, 2007, p. 3)

This report identifies “five broad, descriptive groupings for characteristics that put people at risk:
Economic Disadvantage

• Limited Language Proficiency

• Disability (physical, mental, cognitive, or sensory)

• Isolation (cultural, geographic, or social)

• Age

The key to this approach is that it allows you to examine the nature of the vulnerability that might put someone at higher risk in an emergency. You avoid defining an individual or group based upon their vulnerabilities or using terminology to describe people as being vulnerable - a label that no one wants to have.” (Ibid)

ATD: Advanced Technology Demonstration. (DHS, Statement of Vayl Oxford, 8Mar07, p. 5)
Atmospheric Pollution: “Contamination of the atmosphere by large quantities of gases, solids and radiation produced by the burning of natural and artificial fuels, chemicals and other industrial processes and nuclear explosions. (UNDHA, Disaster Mgmt Glossary, 1992, p. 19)
ATSDR: Agency of Toxic Substances and Disease Registry.
Audit: “The process by which procedures and/or documentation are measured against pre-agreed standards.” (DigitalCare, State of OR Business Continuity Workshop, 2006, 46)

Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ). “The phrase “authority having jurisdiction,” or its acronym AHJ, is used in NFPA documents in a broad manner, since jurisdictions and approval agencies vary, as do their responsibilities. Where public safety is primary, the authority having jurisdiction may be a federal, state, local, or other regional department or individual such as a fire chief; fire marshal; chief of a fire prevention bureau, labor department, or health department; building official; electrical inspector; or others having statutory authority. For insurance purposes, an insurance inspection department, rating bureau, or other insurance company representative may be the authority having jurisdiction. In many circumstances, the property owner or his or her designated agent assumes the role of the authority having jurisdiction; at

government installations, the commanding officer or departmental official may be the authority having jurisdiction.” (NFPA 1600, 2007. p. 11)

Avalanche: “The rapid and sudden sliding and flowage of masses of usually incoherent and unsorted mixtures of snow/ice/rock material. (UNDHA, DM Glossary, 1992, p. 20; cites OFDA)
Avalanche: Mass of snow and ice falling suddenly down a mountain slope and often taking with it earth, rocks and rubble of every description. (WMO 1992, 66)
Awareness: “The continual process of collecting, analyzing, and disseminating intelligence, information, and knowledge to allow organizations and individuals to anticipate requirements and to react effectively.” (DHS, National Response Plan (Draft #1), 25Feb04, p. 73 (Glossary)
B Zone, NFIP: “B Zone is defined as an area of moderate flood hazard, usually depicted on Flood Insurance Rate Maps as between the limits of the base flood and 500-year flood of the primary source of flooding. B Zones may have local, shallow flooding problems. B Zones are also used to designate areas protected by levees and base floodplains of little hazard, such as those with average flood depths of less than 1 foot.” (FEMA, Reducing Damage from Localized Flooding – A Guide for Communities, 2005, vii)
Backup (Data): “A process by which data, electronic or paper based, is copied in some form so as to be available and used if the original data from which it originated is lost, destroyed or corrupted.” (DigitalCare, State of OR Business Continuity Workshop, 2006, p. 47)
Backwater: “A rise of water level in a stream caused by a natural or artificial obstruction.” (UNDHA, DM Glossary, 1992, p. 20)

BARDA: Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority.

Barometer: “Instrument for measuring atmospheric pressure.” (UNDHA, DM Gloss., 1992, 20)
Barometric Pressure: “The pressure exerted by the atmosphere as a consequence of the force of gravity.” (UNDHA, Disaster Management Glossary, 1992, p. 20)
Barrage: “Barrier across a stream provided with a series of gates or other control mechanisms to control the water-surface level upstream, to regulate the flow or to divert water supplies into a canal.” (UNDHA, Disaster Management Glossary, 1992, p. 20; cites OFDA)
Base: “The location at which primary Logistics functions for an incident are coordinated and administered. There is only one Base per incident. (Incident name or other designator will be added to the term Base.) The Incident Command Post may be co-located with the Base.” (FEMA, NIMS (FEMA 501/Draft), 2007, p. 148)
Base Flood: A term used in the National Flood Insurance Program to indicate the minimum size flood to be used by a community as a basis for its floodplain management regulations; presently required by regulation to be “that flood which has a one-percent chance of being equaled or exceeded in any given year.” Also known as a 100-year flood or one-percent chance flood.

Base Flood: “The flood having a one percent chance of being equaled or exceeded in any given year. This is the regulatory standard also referred to as the "100-year flood." The base flood is the national standard used by the NFIP and all Federal agencies for the purposes of requiring the purchase of flood insurance and regulating new development. Base Flood Elevations (BFEs) are typically shown on Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs).” (FEMA, Base Flood, 2007)

Base Flood Elevation (BFE): “…the elevation of the crest of the base or 100-year flood, which is the level of flood that has a 1% chance of being equaled or exceeded in any given year. Also

referred to as BFE.” (ASFPM, National Flood Programs and Polices in Review—2007, p. 92)

Base Flood Elevation (BFE): “The computed elevation to which floodwater is anticipated to rise during the base flood. Base Flood Elevations (BFEs) are shown on Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) and on the flood profiles. The BFE is the regulatory requirement for the elevation or floodproofing of structures. The relationship between the BFE and a structure's elevation determines the flood insurance premium.” (FEMA, Base Flood Elevation, 2007)
Basic Public Information Officers Course The FEMA Emergency Management Institute Basic Public Information Officers Course “is aimed at the new or less experienced PIO including those individuals who have function as a secondary responsibility. Course topics include an overview of the job of the PIO, understanding the media, interview techniques, writing a news release and conducting public awareness campaigns. This course is conducted by the States. Contact your State Emergency Management Agency to find out when and where the course will be offered.” (FEMA,, January 18, 2007 update)
BC: Business Continuity. (DigitalCare, State of Oregon BC Workshop, 2006, p. 8)
BCCP: Business Continuity Certified Planner.
BCEGS: Building Code Effectiveness Grading Schedule.

BCM: Business Continuity Management.

BCP: Business Continuity Planning/Plans. (Digital Care, Inc., State of OR BC Trng., 2006)
BCPR: Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery, United Nations Development Programme.
Beaufort Scale: Numerical scale from 0 to 12, indicating wind force.


1-light air

2-light breeze

3-gentle breeze

4-moderate breeze

5-fresh breeze

6-strong breeze

7-strong wind


9-strong gale


11-violent storm

12-hurricane (Gunn 1990, 376; Reference Center 1998)

BENS: Business Executives for National Security.
BEOP: Basic Emergency Operations Plan.
BERM: Bioterrorism and Epidemic Outbreak Response Model. (AHRQ, Computer Staffing Model for Bioterrorism Response, September 2005)
BFE: Base Flood Elevation. (FEMA, Base Flood, 2007)
BIA: Business Impact Analysis. (DHS, FCD 1, Nov. 2007, p. D-4)
Biodefense for the 21st Century (HSPD-10): “…we conducted a comprehensive evaluation of our biological defense capabilities to identify future priorities and actions to support them. The results of that study provide a blueprint for our future biodefense program, Biodefense for the 21st Century, that fully integrates the sustained efforts of the national and homeland security, medical, public health, intelligence, diplomatic, and law enforcement communities….

The United States will continue to use all means necessary to prevent, protect against, and mitigate biological weapons attacks perpetrated against our homeland and our global interests. Defending against biological weapons attacks requires us to further sharpen our policy, coordination, and planning to integrate the biodefense capabilities that reside at the Federal, state, local, and private sector levels. We must further strengthen the strong international dimension to our efforts, which seeks close international cooperation and coordination with friends and allies to maximize our capabilities for mutual defense against biological weapons threats.

While the public health philosophy of the 20th Century .- emphasizing prevention .- is ideal for addressing natural disease outbreaks, it is not sufficient to confront 21st Century threats where adversaries may use biological weapons agents as part of a long-term campaign of aggression and terror. Health care providers and public health officers are among our first lines of defense. Therefore, we are building on the progress of the past three years to further improve the preparedness of our public health and medical systems to address current and future BW threats and to respond with greater speed and flexibility to multiple or repetitive attacks.
Private, local, and state capabilities are being augmented by and coordinated with Federal assets, to provide layered defenses against biological weapons attacks. These improvements will complement and enhance our defense against emerging or reemerging natural infectious diseases.
The traditional approach toward protecting agriculture, food, and water .- focusing on the natural or unintentional introduction of a disease -- also is being greatly strengthened by focused efforts to address current and anticipated future biological weapons threats that may be deliberate, multiple, and repetitive.

Finally, we are continuing to adapt United States military forces to meet the biological weapons challenge. We have long recognized that adversaries may seek biological weapons to overcome our conventional strength and to deter us from responding to aggression. A demonstrated military capability to defend against biological weapons and other WMD strengthens our forward military presence in regions vital to United States security, promotes deterrence, and provides reassurance to critical friends and allies. The Department of Defense will continue to ensure that United States military forces can operate effectively in the face of biological weapons attacks, and that our troops and our critical domestic and overseas installations are effectively protected against such threats.” (White House, HSPD-10, April 28, 2004.)

Biodefense for the 21st Century Pillars: “The essential pillars of our national biodefense program are: Threat Awareness, Prevention and Protection, Surveillance and Detection, and Response and Recovery.” (White House, HSPD-10, April 28, 2004.)
Biodefense Knowledge Center (BKC), DHS (at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory). “The Laboratory is home to the Biodefense Knowledge Center (BKC) for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). This national resource provides rapid-turnaround and in-depth analyses of biodefense issues. BKC assessments and knowledge-discovery tools help the homeland security community understand scientific trends that may be exploited by adversaries to develop biological weapons. Assessments also assist in the development of an integrated

national effort to respond to emerging threats and help guide the prioritization of national investments in biodefense-related R&D, planning, and preparedness.” (LLNL, Global Threats and Security, 2007, p. 19 (5))

Biological Agent(s): “(1) Biological agents are microorganisms that cause disease in personnel, plants, or animals or cause the deterioration of material. Biological agents are divided into two broad categories; pathogens and toxins.

(a) Pathogens are infectious organisms that cause disease or illness in their host and include bacteria, viruses, rickettsias, protists, fungi, or prions.

(b) Toxins are biologically derived poisonous substances produced as by-products of microorganisms, plants, or animals. They can be naturally or synthetically produced.

“(2) Examples of biological agents and their associated diseases are Bacillus anthracis (anthrax), AIV H5N1 (avian influenza), Clostridium botulinum (botulism), Shigella species (food borne illness), Hantavirus (pulmonary syndrome), Legionella pneumophila (Legionnaire’s disease), Histoplasma capsulatum (histoplasmosis), Yersinia pestis (bubonic and pneumonic plague), Variola virus (smallpox), Francisella tularensis (tularemia), and Ebola virus (viral hemorrhagic fever).

“(3) Infectious biological organisms represent one of the greatest potential threats due to their reproductive ability and the time delay from infection to symptom. An infectious biological

attack may remain undetected for several days to weeks after release due to the incubation

periods that biological agents may have. Diagnosis may be slow as many infectious agents have

a slow onset and present with nonspecific symptoms that rapidly escalate in severity. Another

compounding problem is that patients may simultaneously present in geographically separated

areas. Depending on the pathogen, preventive measures and treatment will be difficult to

implement due to factors such as large number of casualties, restriction of movement, and quarantine. Finally, first responders may be among the first casualties, rapidly overwhelming local and state support systems.” (JCS/DoD, CBRNE CM (JP 3-41), 2006, p. I-6)
Biological Agent (s): “Biological agents are organisms or toxins that can kill or incapacitate people, livestock and crops. The three basic groups of biological agents that would likely be used as weapons are bacteria, viruses and toxins. Most biological agents are difficult to grow and maintain. Many break down quickly when exposed to sunlight and other environmental factors, while others, such as anthrax spores, are very long lived. Biological agents can be dispersed

by spraying them into the air, by infecting animals that carry the disease to humans and by contaminating food and water.” (FEMA: Biological Fact Sheet, June 2007, p. 1)

Biological Hazard: “Processes of organic origin or those conveyed by biological vectors, including exposure to pathogenic micro-organisms, toxins and bioactive substances, which may cause the loss of life or injury, property damage, social and economic disruption or environmental degradation.” (UN/ISDR, Terminology: Basic Terms of Disaster Risk Reduction, 2004, p. 1)

Biological Warfare Agents, Categories of: There are four basic categories of biological warfare agents... They are—

  • Pathogens. Pathogens are disease-causing bacteria, viruses, and rickettsiae. These agents could be used to target food supplies, port facilities, or population centers. Of particular concern is the threat of contagious diseases such as smallpox. Agents that have a long incubation period can infect a large number of people in a short period of time without immediate symptoms or warning signs.

  • Toxins. Toxins are poisons formed as specific secreting products by vegetable or animal organisms such as plants, snakes, spiders, and sea creatures. Toxins act faster and are more stable than live pathogens. Many toxins can be easily produced.

  • Bioregulators. Bioregulators are chemical compounds that are essential for normal psychological and physiological functions. A wide variety of bioregulators is normally present in the human body in extremely minute concentrations. However, these compounds can produce a wide range of harmful effects if they are introduced into the body at higher than normal concentrations or if they are altered. Psychological effects could include exaggerated fear and pain; physiological effects could include rapid unconsciousness and—depending on factors such as dose and route of exposure—could even be lethal. Unlike pathogens that take hours or days to act, bioregulators can produce reactions in minutes.
  • Prions. Prions are composed entirely of microscopic proteins similar to viruses, but without nucleic acid. They are believed to be the infectious agents responsible for degenerative diseases of the nervous system. They infect and propagate by abnormally refolding into a structure which is able to convert normal molecular proteins into abnormally structured forms. Mad cow disease is an example of the effect of prions.” (Dept. of the Army, WMD-CST Operations, December 2007, pp. 3-5, 3-6)

Biological Warfare Defense: Section in the 1951 FCDA Annual Report: “An Epidemic Intelligence Service has been set up by the Public Health Service for the prompt detection of biological warfare attacks…The public has been warned of the possibility of such attacks in an information booklet entitled ‘What You Should Know About Biological Warfare’….By recommendation of the National Advisory Council of the Public Health Service, 12 civilian laboratories will be set up throughout the United States to coordinate laboratory diagnosis and research facilities for defense against biological warfare.” (FCDA, Annual Report 1951, 1952, pp. 54-55)
Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA): “The Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), within the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, provides an integrated, systematic and approach to the development and purchase of the necessary vaccines, drugs, therapies, and diagnostic tools for public health medical emergencies.  BARDA manages Project BioShield, which includes the procurement and advanced development of medical countermeasures for chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear agents, as well as the advanced development and procurement of medical countermeasures for pandemic influenza and other emerging infectious diseases that fall outside the auspices of Project BioShield.  In addition, BARDA manages the Public Health Emergency Countermeasures Enterprise (PHEMCE).” (HHS, Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, November 2, 2007)

Bio Restoration Demonstration Project: “In January 2006, a two-day demonstration held at the San Francisco International Airport (SFO) laid out the response and restoration protocols that would be undertaken if a biological attack occurred. This demonstration was the culmination

of the three-year, $10 million DHS Bio Restoration Demonstration Project. In this project, researchers from Lawrence Livermore and Sandia national laboratories developed restoration plans that integrated technologies and procedures so that airports hit by a biological terrorist

attack could be quickly decontaminated and reopened. As part of this effort, scientists developed a test for determining within a few hours the viability of the biological agent (e.g., anthrax spores).” (LLNL, Global Threats and Security, 2006, p. 19) “Included in the airport restoration templates are: protocols for characterizing an area through sampling and analysis after an attack; decontamination options; approaches for allowing public re-use of facilities and the possible application of longer-term monitoring.” (Sandia National Laboratories, Bio-Restoration Demonstration, 2006)

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