The following four categories are the four phases that are considered to make up the Emergency Management field. While these four phases are what the national standards are based on, it's important to note that each community's emergency management program will differ. While the core functions do not change, each program is what the community makes of it.
Mitigation is process of identifying what hazards exist, and out of those what hazard impacts can be minimized or eliminated. For example, if you have a road that washed out every year from spring runoff, you would minimize the impact to that road by reinforcing it or relocating it.
In the preparedness phase we are focused on the incidents that we have identified are a risk to our community, and that we cannot mitigate, so we prepare for them. This is the where the bulk of the everyday work is carried out in emergency management.
In the Response phase, an event has occurred and the community is now responding to it. Generally during this phase Emergency Management is providing support to our partner agencies.
The Recovery Phase begins after the emergency response to the incident is over. This is where we try to get life back to normal for the community. Emergency Management is the lead agency for recovery operations.