Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency

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District Preparedness System

The District Preparedness System (DPS) is the comprehensive approach to homeland security and emergency management that includes the personnel, processes, procedures, plans, and resources utilized to ensure that the District is prepared to prevent, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate against any and all hazards that may directly affect the residents, businesses, and visitors of the District.
The DPS is comprised of the doctrine, organizational structures, documentation, and operational procedures that enable the District to assess and develop targeted capabilities in a strategic manner, in order to meet our goals in all areas of our preparedness mission.
Within the District Preparedness System, there are four distinct frameworks: Prevention and Protection, Mitigation, Response, and Recovery. These programs work under an integrated, national preparedness system with the same goal in mind: ensuring that the District is prepared for all threats and hazards. Each framework assesses its own discrete capabilities that ultimately support the entire District Preparedness System.


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.


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.
  • District Preparedness Framework -  The District Preparedness Framework provides a collaborative and systematic approach for the Whole Community - that is, the individuals and communities; private and nonprofit sectors; faith-based and nongovernmental organizations; and local and Federal governments-to reduce risks and improve capabilities in the District in order to prevent and protect against, mitigate, respond to, and recover from all hazards.

  • District Response Plan - The District of Columbia uses a community-based, all-hazards approach to disaster management. To this end, the District has developed the District Response Plan. This plan provides a collaborative and systematic approach for the Whole Community of the District to improve capabilities in order to properly prepare to respond to any and all-hazards that may affect the District. This plan helps District officials accomplish the District’s Response Mission: to provide tiered, scalable, flexible, and adaptable capabilities that allows for coordinated planning in times of calm and effective and unified response in times of crisis within or impacting the District of Columbia, to save lives, protect property and the environment, stabilize the community, and meet basic human needs. In addition to this base plan, individual District agencies also have specific response standard operation procedures.