In the next three posts I will look at the difference between an emergency and a disaster. In this article I look at the difference between an emergency and a disaster from the point of view of the emergency services.
An emergency to the emergency services is considered to be any event or potential event where there is is threat to life, property or the environment and requires a focussed and coordinated response.
A disaster to the emergency services on the other hand is any event which brings the systems to a crises point because the emergency services are overwhelmed by the crises and the situation itself significantly reduces the capacity of the community to recover.
The main difference to the emergency services is whether or not they are overwhelmed by the situation. Bearing in mind they deal with emergencies on a daily basis, a disaster takes them beyond what they can cope with at least in the short term and that recovery from the situation is either not possible or considerably more difficult than with an emergency.