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Emergency preparedness

Emergency preparedness is a government policy adapted from civil defense to prepare for nonmilitary civil emergencies before they happen.

In the U.S., most cities maintain at least a cabinet in a basement conference room with several telephone lines. In an emergency, special stationary and other supplies come out of the cabinet, and the conference room becomes the "emergency operations center." The EOC then coordinates the city's emergency effort. Even this tiny amount of preparation, with periodic drills, and coordination with civic organizations, is amazingly better than nothing.

Emergency preparedness consists of four distinctly different phases, disaster prevention, preparation, response and recovery.

Prevention[?] tries to arrange events in such a way that a particular emergency can never occur. For example, one can build levies to prevent floods, or (as in San Antonio Texas), arrange for flood zones to be nonessential parks and walks.

Preparation provide prepositioned, protected emergency supplies for use by emergency services in a large-scale emergency. Very often, such supplies are not available when they are needed by emergency services. For example, police accident investigation units can stock road barriers, inflatable boats and small outboard motors to prevent flood stalls, and perform flood rescues on people in stalled cars.

Many cities also offer training for community emergency response team. Basically, this is mass training to provde teams of amateur emergency workers in every neighborhood. These are truly useful because in an emergency, real firemen are instantly overloaded, with hundreds of calls, and the ability to respond to only a few. The trained amateurs can handle roughly 90% of all emergency rescues, and man almost all other emergency services.

Response mobilizes emergency services, such as firemen, police, and community emergency response teams, and sheltering groups such as Red Cross. The emergency operations center is essential to this effort, because centrally-directed services are much more efficient at saving lives and property.

Recovery rebuilds damaged infrastructure, and restore people to normal work. Often recovery can be greatly aided by small amounts of infrastructure. For example, a subsidized "tourist" ferry can help a city on a river recover from an earthquake or flood-damaged bridges in a few hours, rather than weeks, by letting emergency traffic immediately restart.

Some advocates believe that government should change building codes to require autonomous buildings in order to reduce civil societies' dependence on complex, fragile networks of social services.

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