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District Preparedness System

Every day, the District of Columbia Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency works to keep the District safe and secure. The District Preparedness System outlines an organized process for everyone in the whole community to move forward with their preparedness activities and achieve HSEMA’s vision of a safe secure District of Columbia prepared for all threats and hazards. The System will incorporate all phases of the District’s emergency management program, including prevention/protection, response, recovery, and mitigation.  Overall, the District Preparedness System will support saving lives; protecting property and the environment; stabilizing the community after an incident; and meeting basic human needs.

Governance Structure

The District Preparedness System is governed by the DC Emergency Preparedness Council (EPC), the DC Emergency Response System (ERS) Committee, and working groups and subcommittees aligned to mission and functional areas. These groups work together to leverage best practices, lessons learned, existing knowledge and expertise, and innovative resources to meet the known and emerging threats and hazards in order to build on our standing as a national leader in emergency management.

Emergency Response System

In 2013, the DCEPC created the DCERS, which meets monthly to discuss strategies, set priorities, and provide input and guidance to relevant city departments and agencies on issues of emergency preparedness. The DCERS is a key part of the District Preparedness System and channels initiatives to integrated working groups for planning, logistics and resource management, training and exercises, and law and policy to expand and operationalize committee recommendations.

The DCERS coordinates and partners with the Northern Virginia Emergency Response System and ERS Maryland. All three systems work to promote regional preparedness in alignment with the goals and priorities of the District of Columbia and the National Capital Region.

Mission Area Work Groups

The DCERS established four Mission Area Working Groups to support the District Preparedness System: Prevention/Protection, Mitigation, Response, and Recovery. These Working Groups focus on enhancing the District’s capabilities, identifying priorities to support DCERS, and building sustainable programs in each of the mission areas. The Working Groups meet on a regular basis and coordinate with DCERS and other groups to eliminate planning gaps; identify new planning areas; address logistics and resource management gaps; develop new training and exercise requirements; and determine the legal and policy priorities and projects necessary to support the programs in each of the mission areas.


The District Preparedness System includes three levels of planning documents: strategic, operational and tactical. These high-level documents will provide a general roadmap for the creation and implementation of the larger plan, including outlining the District Government’s legal and organizational resources when responding to and preparing for disasters.