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National Incident Management System: National Preparedness System

plan a “whole community” approach to preparedness.

The National Preparedness Goal

Most jurisdictions or organizations do not have resource levels to handle extreme events on their own. A mutual aid agreement is a tool that you can use to enhance your resources during a high-demand incident. The National Incident Management System guideline for mutual aid helps with mutual aid planning and shows how to create legal agreements with others that include common practices and processes.

The National Preparedness System (NPS) outlines an organized process for everyone in the community — not just the emergency services — to assist in achieving the National Preparedness Goal through 5 mission areas: Prevention, Protection, Mitigation, Response and Recovery. The Federal Emergency Management Agency calls this the “whole community” approach.

Whole community requires everyone's involvement in preparedness, including:

  • Individuals and families.
  • Businesses.
  • Faith-based organizations.
  • Nonprofit groups.
  • Schools.
  • Media outlets.
  • All levels of government.

The NPS can help your community plan its unified whole community approach to preparedness. For example, it identifies 15 core capabilities within the Response mission area for which communities must plan and coordinate efforts to save lives, protect property and meet basic human needs after a catastrophic incident.

The NPS is made up of 6 segments and uses supporting tools and resources — including the National Incident Management System — to help communities prepare across mission areas. The segments are:

  1. Identifying and assessing risk.
  2. Estimating capability requirements.
  3. Building and sustaining capabilities.
  4. Planning to deliver capabilities.
  5. Validating capabilities.
  6. Reviewing and updating.

Whether your fire or emergency medical services department manages or supports an incident or is responsible for core capabilities in some or all five mission areas, the NPS provides you with a path forward for a united community effort. You can learn more about the NPS and how to start the conversation with community members at