The functions of emergency management have been performed for decades by government and private organizations; it was only recently that the broader ideas about managing emergencies were discussed. The Civil Defense Act of 1950 provided for a joint responsibility to carry out civil defense that rested with the federal government, the states, and all local jurisdictions.
Each level of government had specific responsibilities. However, all had a responsibility of preparedness for nuclear attack. The formation of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in 1979 and ultimate name change to Emergency Management was an indication of a change away from specialized preparedness for single hazards and a move toward an all hazards approach; attack, natural, and technological to potential threats to life and property.
Merging of Agencies
This reflects not a reduction in security, but an increased emphasis on making the nation's emergency management capability responsible for any major emergency or disaster. A merger of 20 federal agencies took place in March 2003 forming the Department of Homeland Security. Today's Emergency Management is an intricate part of Homeland Security forming the Preparedness and Recovery Directorate.
As an agency not aligned with law enforcement, fire protection or medical services, it provides a strong association with all three while mitigation, preparedness response and recovery remain major responsibilities.