Disaster & Cruelty

Most Commonly Used Emergency & Disaster Acronyms

Emergency management and disaster preparedness fields use an astonishing number of abbreviations to identify organizations, jobs, roles, tasks, events, objects, places – and, of course, paperwork.

To help you navigate the acronym waters, here are definitions for abbreviations you are most likely to encounter. You can also download a copy of the glossary in PDF format (on the right side of the page) and keep it in a handy place.
Many definitions in this guide are from the FEMA ICS Resource Center, which includes a more detailed glossary and a wealth of other information about disaster preparedness.

A — D

AAR After Action Report
ADA Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990
AES Animal Emergency Sheltering
APHIS Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service
ARES Amateur Radio Emergency Services
AHJ Authority Having Jurisdiction: person or agency with delegated authority to determine, mandate, and enforce code requirements established by jurisdictional governing bodies
ARC American Red Cross
CBRNE Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear or Explosive
CART Community/County Animal Response Team
CDC Centers for Disease Control
CEMP Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan
CERT Community Emergency Response Team
CISD Critical Incident Stress Debriefing
COOP Continuity of Operations Plan
Comm Communications
CONOPS Concept of Operations
CONUS Continental (or Contiguous) United States
CP Command Post
CSI Crime Scene Investigation
DART Disaster Assistance Response Team
DECON Decontamination Area, Decontamination Process


Department (or Division) of Emergency Management (will sometimes have the state initials in front of it): state entity responsible for disaster planning and response; Demobilization, the process of concluding the response to a disaster event
DA Department of Agriculture
DFO Disaster Field Office: headquarters for FEMA staff and operations during a disaster
DHS Department of Homeland Security: unifying core for national network of organizations and institutions involved in the response to threats and hazards in the United States
DMAT Disaster Medical Assistance Teams
DNR Department of Natural Resources
DOD Department of Defense
DOE Department of Energy
DOH Department of Health
DOI Department of the Interior
DOT Department of Transportation
DRC Disaster Recovery Center: facility or mobile office where applicants may go for information about FEMA or other disaster assistance programs
DSCA Defense Support to Civil Authority

E — H

EA Emergency Assistance
EHS Environmental Health & Safety, Extremely Hazardous Substance
EMA Emergency Management Agency
EMAC Emergency Management Assistance Compact
EMI Emergency Management Institute: oganization within FEMA that offers courses for people who have emergency management responsibilities
EMS Emergency Medical System: First response services such as fire, law enforcement, paramedics
EOC Emergency Operations Center: physical location at which the coordination of information and resources to support incident management activities takes place
EOP Emergency Operations Plan: plan each jurisdiction has for responding to appropriate hazards
EPA Environmental Protection Agency
ER Emergency Relief
ESF Emergency Support Function: grouping of governmental and certain private sector capabilities into an organizational structure to provide support, resources, program implementation and services to save lives, protect property and the environment, restore essential services and critical infrastructure, and help victims and communities return to normal following domestic incidents
ESF 01 Transportation
ESF 02 Communications
ESF 03 Public Works and Engineering
ESF 04 Firefighting
ESF 05 Emergency Management
ESF 06 Mass Care, Housing and Human Services
ESF 07 Resource Support
ESF 08 Public Health and Medical Services
ESF 09 Urban Search and Rescue
ESF 10 Oil and Hazardous Materials Response
ESF 11 Agriculture and Natural Resources
ESF 12 Energy
ESF 13 Public Safety and Security
ESF 14 Long-term Community Recovery and Mitigation
ESF 15 External Affairs
FIR ASPCA’s Field Investigations and Response Team
FOG Field Operation Guidelines
GOHSEP Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (LA)
GIS Geographic Information Systems
HAZMAT Hazardous Material
HHS Health and Human Services
HUREVAC Hurricane Evacuation

I — O

IA Individual Assistance, Inter-local Agreements
IA-TAC Individual Assistance – Technical Assistance Contractor
IAEM International Association of Emergency Managers
IAP Incident Action Plan: written plan that defines response to a specific incident, including objectives, strategy and resources
IC Incident Commander: person responsible for all incident activities, including strategies, tactics and resources
ICP Incident Command Post
ICS / IMS Incident Command System/Incident Management System: standardized on-scene emergency management organization designed to aid in the management of resources during incidents
IEMS Integrated Emergency Management System
IMAT Incident Management Assistance Team
JFO Joint Field Office
JIC Joint Information Center: facility established to coordinate all incident-related public information activities
JOC Joint Operations Center
JITT Just in Time Training
LEPC Local Emergency Planning Committee
LOGS Logistics
MA Mission Assignment
MAA Mutual Aid Agreement: agreement between organizations that generally defines the roles the organizations will play during a disaster
MACS Multi-Agency Coordination System: MACS provide the architecture to support coordination for incident prioritization, critical resource allocation, communications systems integration and information coordination
MASH Mobile Animal/Army Surgical Hospital
MOU Memorandum of Understanding: disaster-related MOU is an agreement between organizations that very specifically defines the roles each may play during a disaster
MRC Medical Reserve Corp
MRE Meal Ready to Eat
MSDS Material Safety Data Sheet: form that provides workers and emergency personnel with procedures for handling or working with a particular substance in a safe manner
MSPSA Multi-State Partnership for Security in Agriculture
NARSC National Animal Rescue and Sheltering Coalition
NASAAEP National Alliance of State Animal and Agricultural Emergency Programs
NDMS National Disaster Medical System
NEMA National Emergency Management Association: NEMA is professional association for state emergency management directors
NFPA National Fire Protection Association: The NFPA mission is to reduce the worldwide burden of fire and other hazards on the quality of life by developing and advocating consensus codes and standards, research, training and education
NG National Guard
NGO Non-Governmental Organization
NIC NIMS National Integration Center
NIMS National Incident Management System: federally-mandated management structure used for disasters
NOAA National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration
NVOAD National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters
NWS National Weather Service
OEM Office of Emergency Management: local or state department responsible for the response plan for a locality or state
OEP Office of Emergency Preparedness
OHSEP Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Prepardness (LA)
OPS Operations OSHA Occupational Safety & Health Administration

P — Z

PA Public Assistance
PETS Act Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards Act of 2006
PIO Public Information Officer: member of the Incident Command staff responsible for communicating with the public and media or with other agencies with incident-related information requirements
PKEMRA Post-Katrina Emergency Management Reform Act
POC Point of Contact
POD Point of Distribution: centralized locations where the public picks up life-sustaining commodities following a disaster or emergency
PPE Personal Protective Equipment
PSA Public Service Advertising, Public Service Announcement
PST ASPCA’s Personnel Support Trailer
RACES Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Services
RRCC Regional Response Coordination Center
SAADRA Southern Animal and Agricultural Disaster Response Alliance
SAR/ S&R Search and Rescue
SART State Animal Response Team
SitRep Situation Report: report summarizing the status of the incident and its response
SO Safety Officer
SOG Standard Operating Guidelines
SOP Standard Operating Procedure
SOU Statement of Understanding
SUA Shared Use Agreement
TS Tropical Storm
UC Unified Command: team of individual representatives of multiple organizations who together have authority and responsibility for incident operations and management
USDA United States Department of Agriculture
USAR Urban Search and Rescue
VMAT Veterinary Medical Assistance Team: VMATs assist the local veterinary community with the care of animals and provide veterinary oversight and advice on animal related issues and public health during a disaster
VRC Veterinary Reserve Corp