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Local Emergency Planning

According to Commonwealth Law (Title 35, Pa C.S. Section 7503) each political subdivision (township, borough, town or city) must maintain an emergency plan. This stands to reason because, in fact, most response to emergencies start at the local level.

Pennsylvania has 2,571 cities, boroughs and townships ranging in size from a few dozen persons to 1.5 million in Philadelphia. It is obvious that a “one size fits all” plan simply will not work. Citizens who want to learn more about their local plan should contact their local government.

In providing assistance for this planning effort, PEMA recognizes that many of these smaller municipalities may not have a lot of resources, or a lot of time to spend learning complex procedures. Accordingly, a suggested plan format for local municipalities concentrates on simplicity. Instead of long complicated procedures, the plan is comprised of a series of checklists to be followed during an emergency. There are major parts of the plan that contain personal information about emergency officials, and should not be published.

While the emergency response starts at the local level, most municipalities rely on the county to coordinate dispatch of emergency resources. Several municipalities have chosen to rely even more on the county, and to ask the county to write a plan that includes all response in their local community. Then the elected officials simply adopt the county plan as their own. This form of intergovernmental cooperative agreement does not relieve the elective officials of their responsibilities. They still have a role to play in providing resources and gathering information among other things, but they are no longer required to maintain a plan; simply to ensure that their portion of the county plan is up-to-date.

For more information contact:
Joe Roberge

Local Emergency Management Programs