State Emergency Operations Center
Camp Fretterd Military Reservation, 5401 Rue Saint Lo Drive, Reisterstown, MD 21136

Functions of the Maryland Department of Emergency Management originated during World War I when the Preparedness and Survey Commission and the Maryland Council of Defense organized in 1917. They continued under the Council of Defense and Resources, formed by the Governor in August 1940. That council was followed by the Maryland Council of Defense created by the General Assembly in 1941, which operated during World War II (Chapter 567, Acts of 1941).

In 1950, duties of the Council devolved to the Maryland Civil Defense Agency (Federal Civil Defense Act of 1950; P.L. 920). In 1970, it reorganized as the Maryland Civil Defense and Emergency Planning Agency within the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services (Chapter 401, Acts of 1970). The Agency was renamed the Maryland Civil Defense and Disaster Preparedness Agency in 1975, and became the State Emergency Management and Civil Defense Agency in 1981 (Chapter 666, Acts of 1975; Chapter 505, Acts of 1981). As the Maryland Emergency Management Agency, it transferred to the Military Department in 1989 (Chapter 674, Acts of 1989). It October 2021, the Agency was reformed by the General Assembly as the Maryland Department of Emergency Management, a principal department of Maryland government (Chapter 287, Acts of 2021; Code Public Safety Article, secs. 14-101 through 14-116).

From 1950 to 1970, the Maryland Civil Defense Agency was concerned primarily with statewide nuclear attack preparedness (Chapter 563, Acts of 1949). Later, it addressed disaster relief and emergency resources management. Duties covered floodplain management, flood insurance initiatives, community preparedness for weather emergencies, earthquake hazard reduction, dam safety, emergency broadcast system, emergency warning, and terrorist incidents.

When the federal Defense Civil Preparedness Agency was established in the U.S. Department of Defense in 1972, the Population Protection Program (PPP) also was developed. The Program is adaptable to natural disasters, peacetime emergencies, and nuclear attack.

In 1979, the Three Mile Island Incident turned federal attention to radiological emergency planning. In 1980 and 1981, the Agency produced radiological emergency plans to cope with accidents at Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant in Maryland, and Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station near Maryland's northern border in Delta, Pennsylvania. These plans were tested in 1981 and 1982. Annually, the State Radiological Plan is tested with a full-scale operational exercise.

Since 1981, the Governor has been responsible for emergency management in Maryland.

To protect life and property from attack and offer relief and assistance to people struck by natural disasters, the Maryland Department of Emergency Management provides for a civil defense system.

The Governor has emergency powers to suspend State statutes temporarily, direct evacuations, control access, clear debris, and use private property if necessary (Code Public Safety Article, secs. 14-301 through 14-406). When the Governor declares a state of emergency, the Secretary of Emergency Management coordinates the emergency acts of State government and those local governments included in the declaration. The Maryland Department of Emergency Management plans and executes the disaster and emergency preparedness response between State and local agencies. It coordinates emergency services with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), other state emergency management agencies, and public utility and other private agencies.

To aid another state in time of emergency, the Governor may authorize the use of State and local resources (Chapter 193, Acts of 1993). In the event of an emergency in Maryland, the Governor also may accept aid from another state.

In the event of emergencies and disasters that are beyond the capabilities of local authorities, the Maryland Department of Emergency Management coordinates statewide efforts .

Maryland Emergency Prepardeness Program. The Maryland Department of Emergency Management develops and coordinates emergency prepardeness policy through the Maryland Emergency Prepardeness Program . At all levels of government statewide, the Program outlines emergency preparedness, response and recovery responsibilities for natural, technological, terrorist and attack-related emergencies and disasters. The Program consists of four components: preparedness; response; mitigation; and recovery.

Bi-annually, the Department reviews and updates the Maryland Emergency Prepardeness Program, and ensures that State agencies understand their responsibilities during times of emergency. The Department also coordinates emergency preparedness activities and operations among State and local agencies, the federal government, other states, and private and nonprofit agencies (Executive Order 01.01.2013.06).


Heading the Department, the Secretary of Emergency Management serves on the Governor's Executive Council; and the Interdepartmental Advisory Committee on Small, Minority, and Women Business Affairs.

The Secretary is appointed by the Governor with Senate advice and consent (Chapter 287, Acts of 2021; Code Public Safety Article, sec. 14-104).

Under the Maryland Department of Emergency Management are three directorates: Consequence Management, Disaster Risk Reduction, and Mission Support. The Department is aided by the Emergency Management Advisory Council, the Maryland State Emergency Response Commission, and the Maryland 9-1-1 Board.


The Consequence Management Directorate organized first under the Maryland Emergency Management Agency as the Operations Division, and was renamed the Readiness Division in 2002. The Division reformed as the Operations Directorate in 2004, became Operations in 2008, and Operational Support in 2012. Reorganized as the Operations Directorate in 2012, it received its present name in 2018.

The Directorate oversees the Maryland Joint Operations Center, the State Emergency Operations Center, and two branches: Planning, and Training and Exercise.

The Maryland Joint Operations Center was initiated by the Maryland Emergency Management Agency in 2004.

The Center is staffed continuously by emergency management professionals and members of the Maryland National Guard who coordinate communications for first responders, and monitor local, State, national and international events for indications of hazardous situations that could threaten Maryland.

The Center functions as a communications, warning, and message center by providing a way to disseminate emergency information to local emergency managers and to alert decision makers when a threatening situation arises.

In response to an event that requires large-scale State involvement and support, the Director may activate the State Emergency Operations Center as a command and control station for emergency and disaster management. Representatives of federal and State agencies, as well as private and volunteer organizations, assemble at the Center to coordinate action and allocate resources for emergency response.

Originally formed as the Planning Division, Adaptive Planning reorganized as the Planning Directorate under the Maryland Emergency Management Agency in 2004. Dissolved in 2005, it was reconstituted as Planning in 2009. As Adaptive Planning, it reorganized under Prepardeness in 2012. It reformed as Planning under the Operations Directorate in 2016.

Formerly named Active Learning and Exercise under the Maryland Emergency Management Agency, Training and Exercise was organized in March 2016. Later, it was renamed the Training and Exercise Branch.

This branch provides education and training opportunities to State and local emergency management professionals. It also participates in exercises which simulate real-life emergency situations and allow emergency managers to identify and resolve problems prior to a real event.


In November 2012, the Disaster Risk Reduction Directorate was created under the Maryland Emergency Management Agency as Preparedness. Renamed the Strategy Directorate in March 2016, it reformed later as the Risk Reduction and Strategy Directorate. In December 2018, it became the Disaster Risk Reduction Directorate.

Under the Directorate are five branches: Communications and Outreach, Hazard Mitigation, Non-governmental Services, Public Assistance, and Risk and Recovery.


To reduce or eliminate the impact of future disasters, the Mitigation and Recovery Program works with local jurisdictions and other State agencies to develop responsible land-use programs, upgrade building codes, and establish suitable routes for transporting hazardous materials in the State. With federal agencies, the Program seeks to identify actions that over the long term can avoid repeated damage and loss.


Under the Maryland Emergency Management Agency, the Mission Support Directorate started as the Budget, Fiscal, and Logistics Division. The Division became Personnel, Fiscal and Logistics in 2002. Reformed at the Logistics Directorate in 2004, it was abolished in 2007. Functions of the Logistics Directorate then were restructured in 2008 to form Administration. In July 2017, Administration was renamed the Mission Support Directorate.

The Mission Support Directorate oversees four branches: Budget and Finance, Grants Management, Human Resources and Administration, and Information Technology.

The Grants Management Branch oversees the distribution of federal Homeland Security Grants to local governments and first responders. Assistance is provided to build emergency response capabilities and is used to buy protective equipment for emergency personnel, improve critical infrastructure, and build interoperable communications systems.

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