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VHA Office of Emergency Management


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VHA team receives critical patient evacuated from Hurricane Ike

Disaster Response

OEM coordinates disaster response and support missions that aid VA facilities and the nation's communities striken by disasters and emergencies disrupting healthcare services.

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Title 2

Supporting VHA Facilities

OEM is distributed nationwide to assist VHA facilities to develop and expand their resilience and disaster response capabilities. OEM has nine regional offices, positioned to serve all VHA facilities, as well as to coordinate with other federal response agencies in both planning and response.

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VA and National Guard partners practice aircaraft loading and unloading techniques

Preparing Our VHA Team

Developing VHA response and recovery capabilities requires periodic assessment, intelligent investment, promotion of best practices, training, and exercises. OEM performs all of these functions through its various Comprehensive Emergency Management Programs (CEMP).

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VHA Office of Emergency Management

The Office of Emergency Management (OEM) is the program office for the VHA Comprehensive Emergency Management Program (CEMP), and thus has overall responsibility for CEMP program development and implementation. In an emergency or disaster, OEM coordinates essential VA emergency medical response and support services at the local, regional, and national levels to ensure the health and safety of our Veteran patients and their families, staff, and visitors, and continued delivery of VHA health care services.

4 Phases of CEMP


Field Programs

Response Programs

4 Phases of Emergnecy Management4 Phases of CEMP

In the VHA Comprehensive Emergency Management Program (CEMP), OEM addresses all four phases of emergency management cycle:


Mitigation/Prevention = efforts to reduce the impact of disasters.  OEM programs evaluate facility resiliency and fund improvements to critical systems that keep facilities operating in disasters. 

Preparedness = development of plans, resources, and capabilities to manage and recover from the impacts of disasters.  OEM programs assess capabilities; establish policy and guidance; train staff and promote best practices; coordinate execises to test capabilities; provide systems, equipment, and funding to ensure VHA is properly equipped;

Response = activities to stop and reverse the adverse effects of disasters or emergencies on services and operations.  OEM coordinates VHA response and recovery operations in support of affected VHA facilities by providing assistance in the form of resources, critical commodities and utlities, communicatons, personnel, and response teams.  OEM also delivers and coordinates VHA support to our nation's communities affected by nationally-declared disasters.

Recovery = both short and long term restoration of the capabilities impacted by emergencies and disasters.  OEM response support operations transition to recovery support operations once the hazards of the disaster have been stabilized.  Long term recovery may require alternate or improved facilities, which links to mitigation. It also includes analysis of lessons learned for improvement of response capabilities, which links to preparedness.

A patient reception exercise in Little Rock, ARImprovement

VHA's Comprehensive Emergency Management Program (CEMP) focuses on improving VHA disaster resiliency and response capabilities.  


CEMP elements focusing on improving the capabilities include:



OEM Area Emergency Manager, Cosme Torres, provides on-site guidanceField Programs

OEM's Field Program staff located throught the nation provide direct assistance and support to VHA facilities and networks for the enhancement of emergency program capabilities and to provide disaster response support when needed.


Components of this program include:


Little Rock VAMC patient reception teams provide care to Hurricane Ike evacueesResponse Programs

OEM delivers and coordinates VHA support missions for VHA facilites affected by disasters, and also performs missions assigned to VA by FEMA or US Dept. of Health & Human Services for response to and recovery from nationally-declared emergencies and disasters. 

OEM's capabilities for response & recovery include:

Comprehensive Emergency Management Program (CEMP)

OEM provides a full range of support to VHA facilities and Headquarters Program Offices--across all 4 phases of emergency response--to ensure resiliency, continuity and rapid recovery of VHA healthcare services to our nation's veterans during disasters and other potential disruptions to healthcare service delivery.

  • Expertise
  • Policy & planning guidance
  • VHA emergency operations plans
  • Response personnel & teams
  • Funding
  • Equipment
  • Systems and processes
  • Communications
  • Training
  • On-site support
  • Program assessment 
  • Exercise coordination & development