Emergency Preparedness Glossary - CHS Admin Handbook - Minnesota Dept. of Health

Appendix: Emergency Preparedness Glossary


  • DMAT: Federal Disaster Medical Assistance Team
  • EOC: Emergency Operations Center
  • EOP: Emergency Operations Plan
  • ESAR-VHP: Emergency System for Advance Registration of Volunteer Health Professionals
  • ICP: Incident Command Post
  • ICS: Incident Command System
  • JPA: Joint Powers Agreement
  • MAC: Multi-Agency Coordination Center
  • MMT: Mobile Medical Team
  • MMU: Mobile Medical Unit
  • MMU-OOG: MMU Operations and Oversight Group (MMU governing body)
  • MMU-TOT: MMU Technical Operations Team
  • MRC: Medical Reserve Corps
  • NIMS: National Incident Management System
  • POD: Point of Distribution
  • PIO: Public Information Officer
  • RCT: Readiness Coordinating Team
  • RST: Readiness Steering Team
  • RSS: Receipt, Store, Stage
  • RDN: Regional Distribution Node
  • SME: Subject Matter Expert


Alternate Care Facility / Site. Could include could include tents, parked mobile units, or other facility-based treatment areas.

Catastrophic Incident. Any natural or man-made incident, including terrorism, that results in extraordinary levels of mass casualties, damage, or disruption severely affecting the population, infrastructure, environment, economy, national morale, and/or government functions. A catastrophic event could result in sustained national impacts over a prolonged period of time; almost immediately exceeds resources normally available to state, local, tribal, and private-sector authorities in the impacted area; and significantly interrupts governmental operations and emergency services to such an extent that national security could be threatened. All catastrophic events are Incidents of National Significance.

Chain of Command. A series of command, control, executive, or management positions in hierarchical order of authority.

Command Staff. In an incident management organization, the Command Staff consists of the Incident Commander and the special staff positions of Public Information Officer, Safety Officer, Liaison Officer, and other positions as required, who report directly to the Incident Commander. They may have an assistant or assistants, as needed.

Department Operations Center. A pre-determined location at which selected staff from a department can convene to launch an organized response to an emergency.

Disaster. As defined by Minn. Stat. § 12.03, subd. 2, a disaster is "a situation that creates an actual or imminent serious threat to the health and safety of persons, or a situation that has resulted or is likely to result in catastrophic loss to property or the environment, and for which traditional sources of relief and assistance within the affected area are unable to repair or prevent the injury or loss."

Emergency (federal definition). As defined by the Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, an emergency is "any occasion or instance for which, in the determination of the President, Federal assistance is needed to supplement state and local efforts and capabilities to save lives and to protect property and public health and safety, or to lessen or avert the threat of a catastrophe in any part of the United States."

Emergency (state definition). As defined by Minn. Stat. § 12.03, subd. 3, an emergency is "an unforeseen combination of circumstances that calls for immediate action to prevent a disaster from developing or occurring."

Emergency Operations Center (EOC). The physical location at which the coordination of information and resources to support domestic incident management activities normally takes place. An EOC may be a temporary facility or may be located in a more central or permanently established facility, perhaps at a higher level of organization within a jurisdiction. EOCs may be organized by major functional disciplines (e.g., fire, law enforcement, and medical services), by jurisdiction (e.g., federal, state, regional, county, city, tribal), or by some combination thereof.

Emergency Operations Plan (EOP). The "steady-state" plan maintained by various jurisdictional levels for managing a wide variety of potential hazards.

Executive Team. Includes the Commissioner of Health, Deputy Commissioner, Assistant Commissioners, Chief Financial Officer, Legal Unit Director, and the Communications Office Director. This team has overall responsibility of the entire health department and communicates with the Governor's Office.

General Staff. In an incident management organization, the General Staff consists of the Operations Section Chief, Planning Section Chief, Logistics Section Chief and the Finance and Administration Section Chief. These roles work on scene and behind the scene in support of response efforts to an incident.

Hazard. Something that is potentially dangerous or harmful, often the root cause of an unwanted outcome.

Incident. An occurrence or event, natural or human caused, that requires an emergency response to protect life or property. Incidents can, for example, include Major Disasters, emergencies, terrorist attacks, terrorist threats, wild land and urban fires, floods, hazardous materials spills, nuclear accidents, aircraft accidents, earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, tropical storms, war-related disasters, public health and medical emergencies, and other occurrences requiring an emergency response.

Incident Action Plan. An oral or written plan containing general objectives reflecting the overall strategy for managing an incident. It may include the identification of operational resources and assignments. It may also include attachments that provide direction and important information for management of the incident during one or more operational periods.

Incident Command Post (ICP). The field location at which the primary tactical-level, on-scene incident command functions are performed. The ICP may be co-located with the incident base or other incident facilities, and is normally identified by a green rotating or flashing light.

Incident Command System (ICS). A standardized on-scene emergency management construct specifically designed to provide for the adoption of an integrated organizational structure that reflects the complexity and demands of single or multiple incidents, without being hindered by jurisdictional boundaries. ICS is the combination of facilities, equipment, personnel, procedures, and communications operating with a common organizational structure, designed to aid in the management of resources during incidents. ICS is used for all kinds of emergencies and is applicable to small as well as large and complex incidents. ICS is used by various jurisdictions and functional agencies, both public and private, or organized field-level incident management operations.

Incident Management System. A standardized management tool for meeting the demands of small or large emergency or non-emergency situations.

Incident Manager. Lead figure in the Incident Management System that provides overall leadership for the incident response, delegates authority to others, and takes general direction from agency administrator or official.

Incidents of National Significance. Based on criteria established in Homeland Security Presidential Directive 5 (HSPD-5), paragraph 4, an actual or potential high-impact event that requires a coordinated and effective response by an appropriate combination of federal, state, local, tribal, nongovernmental, and/or private-sector entities in order to save lives and minimize damage, and provide the basis for long-term community recovery and mitigation activities.

Joint Information Center. A facility established to coordinate all incident-related public information activities. It is the central point of contact for all news media.

Jurisdiction. A range or sphere of authority. Public agencies have jurisdiction at an incident related to their legal responsibilities and authorities. Jurisdictional authority at an incident can be political or geographical (e.g., city, county, tribal, state, or federal boundary lines) or functional (e.g., law enforcement, public health).

Major Disaster. As defined by the Stafford Act, any natural catastrophe (including any hurricane, tornado, storm, high water, wind-driven water, tidal wave, tsunami, earthquake, volcanic eruption, landslide, mudslide, snowstorm, or drought) or, regardless of cause, any fire, flood, or explosion, in any part of the United States, which in the determination of the President causes damage of sufficient severity and magnitude to warrant Major Disaster assistance under this act to supplement the efforts and available resources of states, local governments, and disaster relief organizations in alleviating the damage, loss, hardship, or suffering caused thereby.

Multi-agency Coordination Center (MAC). An interagency coordination center that allows for span of control in an incident that is geographically dispersed and crosses multiple jurisdictions. The MAC serves as the focal point for interagency planning and coordination.

Multi-agency Coordination System. Provides the architecture to support coordination for incident prioritization, critical resource allocation, communications systems integration, and information coordination. The components of Multi-agency Coordination Systems include facilities, equipment, Emergency Operations Centers (EOCs), specific multi-agency coordination entities, personnel, procedures, and communications. The systems assist agencies and organizations to fully integrate the subsystems of the National Incident Management System (NIMS).

National Incident Management System (NIMS). A system mandated by HSPD-5 that provides a consistent, nation-wide approach for federal, state, local, and tribal governments; the private sector; and nongovernmental organizations to work effectively and efficiently together to prepare for, respond to, and recover from domestic incidents, regardless of cause, size, or complexity. To provide for interoperability and compatibility among federal, state, local, and tribal capabilities, NIMS includes a core set of concepts, principles, and terminology. HSPD-5 identifies these as the Incident Command System (ICS); Multi-agency Coordination Systems; training; identification and management of resources (including systems for classifying types of resources); qualification and certification; and the collection, tracking, and reporting of incident information and incident resources.

Point of Distribution (POD). Site that provides distribution of medical materiel in an emergency situation.

Preparedness. The range of deliberate, critical tasks and activities necessary to build, sustain, and improve the operational capability to prevent, protect against, respond to, and recover from domestic incidents. Preparedness is a continuous process involving efforts at all levels of government and between government and private-sector and non-governmental organizations to identify threats, determine vulnerabilities, and identify required resources.

Prevention. Actions taken to avoid an incident or to intervene to stop an incident from occurring. Prevention involves actions taken to protect lives and property. It involves applying intelligence and other information to a range of activities that may include such countermeasures as deterrence operations; heightened inspections; improved surveillance and security operations; investigations to determine the full nature and source of the threat; public health and agricultural surveillance and testing processes; immunizations, isolation, or quarantine; and, as appropriate, specific law enforcement operations aimed at deterring, preempting, interdicting, or disrupting illegal activity and apprehending potential perpetrators and bringing them to justice.

Public Health. Protection, safety, improvement, and interconnections of health and disease prevention among people, domestic animals, and wildlife.

Public Information Officer (PIO). A member of the Command Staff responsible for interfacing with the public and media or with other agencies with incident related information requirements.

Readiness Coordinating Team (RCT). Provides a forum for developing, discussing, and evaluating department-wide activities related to emergency preparedness/continuity of operations. The focus of the RCT is to advise the Emergency/Continuity Steering Team on policy and procedures, management and funding issues necessary to manage preparedness/continuity issues on behalf of the Department. In addition, the Coordinating Team will establish methods of communication and processes to ensure close working relationships and sharing of best practices between and across Department divisions.

Readiness Steering Team (RST). Provides overall coordination of preparedness /response and continuity of operations in the Department by approving policies and procedures, coordinating and prioritizing significant prepared-ness/continuity investments, and making strategic decisions on the development of preparedness/continuity efforts to assure selected activities improve the Department's ability to respond effectively, maintain the Department's ability to deliver critical services, protect employees and resources, and to protect the public's health.

Receipt, Store, Stage (RSS). A site that maintains and readies supplies for distribution.

Recovery. The development, coordination, and execution of service- and site-restoration plans for impacted communities and the reconstitution of government operations and services through individual, private-sector, nongovernmental, and public assistance programs that: identify needs and define resources; provide housing and promote restoration; address long-term care and treatment of affected persons; implement additional measures for community restoration; incorporate mitigation measures and techniques, as feasible; evaluate the incident to identify lessons learned; and develop initiatives to mitigate the effects of future incidents.

Regional Distribution Node (RDN). Site designated to receive medical materiel in an emergency; serves as central depot site for further distribution to mass dispensing sites in the region.

Resources. Personnel and major items of equipment, supplies, and facilities available or potentially available for assignment to incident operations and for which status is maintained. Resources are described by kind and type, and may be used in operational support or supervisory capacities at an incident or at an Emergency Operations Center (EOC).

Response. Activities that address the short-term, direct effects of an incident. Response includes immediate actions to save lives, protect property, and meet basic human needs. Response also includes the execution of Emergency Operations Plans (EOPs) and of incident mitigation activities designed to limit the loss of life, personal injury, property dam-age, and other unfavorable outcomes. As indicated by the situation, response activities include: applying intelligence and other information to lessen the effects or consequences of an incident; increased security operations; continuing investigations into the nature and source of the threat; ongoing public health and agricultural surveillance and testing processes; immunizations, isolation, or quarantine; and specific law enforcement operations aimed at preempting, interdicting, or disrupting illegal activity, and apprehending actual perpetrators and bringing them to justice.

Subject Matter Expert (SME). An individual who is a technical expert in a specific area or in performing a specialized job, task, or skill.

Terrorism. Any activity that:

  1. involves an act that
    1. is dangerous to human life or potentially destructive of critical infrastructure or key resources; and
    2. is a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any state or other subdivision of the United States; and
  2. appears to be intended
    1. to intimidate or coerce a civilian population;
    2. to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or
    3. to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping.

Threat. An indication of possible violence, harm, or danger.

Tribal Government. The governing body of any tribe, band, community, village, or group of American Indians.

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