Definition of an emergency

There is no universal definition of the word “EMERGENCY”. The WFET definition: Emergency is any situation where the normal harmony is interrupted by something that poses a potential immediate risk to life, health, property or environment.  Emergencies require interventions to prevent a worsening of the situation.


Definition of an emergency response

Not all incidents that classifies as an emergency requires an emergency response. Sometimes incidents that are almost an emergency will get an emergency response of preventative reasons or simply available resources. The chance for an emergency response increases with severity in the potential immediate risk to life, health, property or environment. Normally the emergency priority follows the ambulance system «Advanced Medical Priority Dispatch System» (AMPDS):

  • A: Immediately life threatening
  • B: Immediately health threatening
  • C: Non-emergency that requires a response
  • D: No response needed after a clinical question


Another system commonly used is «Emergency Medical Dispatch» (EMD):

  • Alpha: Low priority
  • Bravo: Medium priority
  • Charlie: Requires Advanced life support
  • Delta: High priority; requires Advanced life support
  • Echo: Maximum possible priority!

Severity is defined by the alphabet; the first letters are less important.

Important topics:

An Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) is a central command that carries out emergency preparedness and emergency management/ disaster management. All operations carried out by EOC are emergency operations. EOC is responsible for seeing the big picture in an emergency situation (collect, gather and analyse information related to the event), and works on a strategic level, and less on a tactical level. EOC coordinates operations of emergency character.  Operational – and tactical decisions aren’t of an EOC interest, they are left to be taken on a lower operational level. The person in charge at the EOC is the Emergency manager.



An Emergency Mission is when we intervene in an emergency situation. This mission is normally defined by EOC, and the job is pre-defined.


An Emergency Incident is any situation that qualifies as an emergency; normally of a more isolated character.