The attacks on September 11, 2001 that destroyed the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington were disasters of an almost unimaginable scale. Still, even in the panic and devastation that ensued, orderly emergency procedures needed to be maintained to prevent further damage and to spare as many additional lives as possible. Emergencies on a smaller scale may not require as much sustained effort as the September 11 attacks did, but they, too, require effective emergency management procedures.
Emergencies that can warrant either a local, state, or federal effort can include a variety of situations:
- Natural disasters include earthquakes, floods, tornados, hurricanes, blizzards, mud-slides, and volcanoes.
- Fires can be set accidentally (by lightning storms or by careless campers) or they can be set deliberately by arsonists.
- Transportation disasters include airline crashes, train crashes and derailments, boat accidents, highway pileups and accidents, and anything that disrupts the ability of people to move from one place to another.
- Hazardous materials emergencies include oil spills, hazardous waste spills, and nuclear accidents.
- Invasions and attacks could come from military or terrorist sources.
Depending on the size and location of the emergency, local municipalities may take the primary charge, with state and federal agencies providing backup. Emergency management can also come from the private or corporate sector; mining accidents, for example, are usually handled primarily by the mining company (whose on-site miners are most familiar with the safest and most efficient rescue procedures).