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Commonly referred to as Title 35, Pennsylvania's Emergency Management Services Code requires every county, city, borough, town, and township in the Commonwealth to adhere to certain emergency management-related standards. Some of the key provisions include:
- Emergency Management Agency
"Each political subdivision of this Commonwealth is directed and authorized to establish a local emergency management organization in accordance with the plan and program of the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency. Each local organization shall have responsibility for emergency management, response and recovery within the territorial limits of the political subdivision within which it is organized and, in addition, shall conduct such services outside of its jurisdictional limits as may be required under this part."
- Emergency Management Coordinator
"Each local organization of emergency management shall have a coordinator who shall be responsible for the planning, administration and operation of the local organization subject to the direction and control of the executive officer or governing body."
- Emergency Operations Plan
"Prepare, maintain and keep current a disaster emergency management plan for the prevention and minimization of injury and damage caused by disaster, prompt and effective response to disaster and disaster emergency relief and recovery in consonance with the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Plan."
- Emergency Operations Center
"Establish, equip and staff an emergency operations center, consolidated with warning and communication systems to support government operations in emergencies and provide other essential facilities and equipment for agencies and activities assigned emergency functions."
Other requirements include the provision of training, mitigation, public information, and warning programs and the organization and coordination of local emergency resources.
In Pennsylvania, response to emergencies and disasters starts at the local level. After local resources are overwhelmed, a higher level of government will assist.
"Direction of disaster emergency management services is the responsibility of the lowest level of government affected. When two or more political subdivisions within a county are affected, the county organization shall exercise responsibility for coordination and support to the area of operations. When two or more counties are involved, coordination shall be provided by [PEMA] ..."
"When all appropriate locally available forces and resources are fully committed by the affected political subdivision, assistance from a higher level of government shall be provided."