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Emergency Management in the United States:

Disasters Experienced, Lessons Learned,

and Recommendations for the Future
David A. McEntire, Ph.D.1


In many ways, the emergency management system in the United States is a model for other nations around the world. This country has had a great deal of experience with disasters, and it has been – in many instances – both innovative and successful in emergency management. In spite of its many advances in this burgeoning profession, the U.S. suffers from many problems that are both unique and similar to those that affect other countries. In addition, the U.S. has witnessed numerous setbacks and disappointing mistakes from which others may learn. For these reasons, it is beneficial to examine in detail the American emergency management system.

The following paper explores the hazards and vulnerability in the United States. It also reviews the history of disasters in the U.S. and the development of emergency management policy in this country. After describing the emergency management system, the paper then explores the future disaster challenges and opportunities. In so doing, the paper illustrates that there are many things that remain to be done to improve emergency management in this country.

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