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Policy Statement 499 - Emergency Preparedness and Response

Approved by the Infrastructure and Research Policy Committee on March 15, 2018
Approved by the Public Policy Committee on May 6, 2018
Adopted by the Board of Direction on July 13, 2018


The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) supports comprehensive planning, education, and training initiatives that increase the ability and readiness of civil engineers to quickly and effectively respond to all events that impact the nation's physical infrastructure (i.e., the nation's built environment, including water, energy, utilities, transportation, communication, and building systems).  


Recent disaster events focused the nation's attention on infrastructure vulnerabilities and the critical role of civil engineers and constructors as first responders. Federal, state, and local governments need to identify available resources and best practices to engage civil engineers in support of search and rescue efforts and in emergency response and recovery activities to enhance public health, safety, and welfare in the aftermath of man-made and natural disasters.  

Many planning initiatives are now being conducted in this area by federal, state, and local governments, and by non-government organizations. These various planning initiatives should be carefully coordinated with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and its Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and should be immediately incorporated into emergency response planning and implementation. Planning initiatives should also include comprehensive training for all first responders.  


Recent disaster events brought into focus the vulnerabilities of the nation's infrastructure to terrorist attacks and other events. The civil engineering profession provides leadership and expertise in support of search and rescue efforts and in emergency response and recovery activities in the aftermath of disasters. ASCE participates in the development and implementation of emergency preparedness and response strategies to mitigate the impact of future disasters on public health, safety, and welfare.  

The existing Safety Assessment Program, a system of recruiting and training design professionals as "disaster service workers" with appropriate liability protection, is an example of an effective program.

Most states have a division of emergency management offices that implement programs to increase public awareness about emergencies, threats, and hazards, coordinate emergency planning, and provide an extensive array of specialized training for emergency responders.

ASCE Policy Statement 499
First Approved in 2003