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Glossary of Terms

Glossary of Terms

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After Action Report (AAR)

After action reports are formal documents intended to serve as aids to performance evaluation and improvement by registering situation-response interactions, analyzing critical procedures, determining their effectiveness and efficiency, and proposing adjustments and recommendations.



An agreement is an arrangement to a course of action, a contract duly executed and legally binding or the language or instrument embodying such a contract. Memorandums of Understanding and Letters of Intent are two common agreements that are often used in business settings.

Related Words  Ready Rating Membership Agreement

Automated External Defibrillator (AED)

An AED is a device about the size of a laptop computer that analyzes the heart's rhythm for any abnormalities and, if necessary, directs the rescuer to deliver an electrical shock to the victim. This shock, called defibrillation, may help the heart to reestablish an effective rhythm of its own.


Be Red Cross Ready Online Education Program

The online education program is a tool for reaching the public with in-depth information about how to incorporate three actions – getting a kit, making a plan and being informed- into daily life. The program combines disaster education, health and safety information, and skills demonstrations depicting three CPR/AED skills areas: Conscious Choking, Adult CPR, and AED use for adults. The module is available from the public website at


Blood Drive

An event, frequently arranged with the Red Cross, during which volunteers of at least 17 years of age have blood drawn for storage in a blood bank.


Bloodborne Pathogens Kit

A kit that contains the items needed to clean up blood and body fluid spills, personal protective equipment and biohazard bags.


Bloodborne Pathogens Training

This course teaches participants how bloodborne pathogens are spread, how to prevent exposures and what to do if exposed to infectious materials.


Business Continuity

An organization’s ability to plan for and respond to incidents and business interruptions in order to continue business operations at an acceptable pre-defined level.


Carbon Monoxide Alarm

Carbon Monoxide (CO) alarms are designed to sound an alarm before potentially life-threatening levels of CO are detected.


Communication Procedures

The processes and procedures by which a business, organization or school makes contact with their employees, stakeholders, students and emergency services personnel during an emergency situation. These can involve call trees, emergency voice mail, email and text messages and other such systems.


Community Disaster Education (CDE) Presenter

A person who conducts disaster education presentations to the community. Responsibilities for someone in the position can include: promoting, presenting, and helping to develop age-appropriate materials.


Continuity of Operations (COOP)

A plan that helps businesses, organizations and schools design how they will continue day-to-day operations if the building, plant or store is not usable. This plan can include goods and service distribution, payroll, etc.


Continuity of Operations Plan (COOP) Activation Drills

A drill that demonstrates how the chain of command, management succession and back up of critical business functions will occur during a disaster.


Continuity of Operations Plan (COOP) Coordinator

The person designated by a business or organization to oversee the development and implementation of the Continuity of Operations Plan (COOP).


CPR/AED Training

This course combines lectures, demonstrations and video with hands-on training and practice. Participants in this course learn to recognize and respond to emergencies, including shock, cardiac and breathing emergencies for adults, children and infants; heat and cold emergencies; sudden illnesses and poisonings. Additionally, participants will learn first aid for everything from cuts and scrapes to muscle, bone and joint injuries.


Disaster Drills and Exercises

Regularly scheduled tests conducted to practice how employees and/or students should react in the event of an emergency situation. Potential situations can include tornados, earthquakes, fires, chemical releases and more.


Disaster Recovery

Disaster recovery is the process, policies and procedures related to preparing for recovery or continuation of technology infrastructure critical to an organization after a natural or human-caused disaster.


Disaster vs. Emergency

Each event must be addressed within the context of the impact it has on the business, school and the community. What might constitute a nuisance to a large industrial facility could be a 'disaster' to a small business. The term 'emergency' though can be used to convey greater meaning. An emergency is any unplanned event that can cause deaths or significant injuries to employees, customers or the public; or that can shut down your business, disrupt operations, cause physical or environmental damage or threaten the facility's financial standing or public image.


Drop, Cover and Hold On

A practice used to help reduce risk from earthquakes. In a drill, students and employees are directed to drop to the floor, take cover under a sturdy desk or table, and hold on to the desk or table. If there are no tables or desks nearby, direct participants to stay away from windows, bookcases and tall furniture and drop to the floor next to an interior wall and protect their head and neck with their arms.


Emergency Call List

A document listing all persons on- and off-site who would be involved in responding to an emergency, their responsibilities and their 24-hour telephone numbers.


Emergency Communication Devices

Devices used to send or receive information during a disaster or emergency situation. These devices can include walkie-talkies, cellular phones, land lines, battery-powered radios and NOAA Weather Radios.


Emergency Contact Information

Tell everyone in the household where emergency contact information is kept. Make copies for each member of the family to carry with them. Be sure to include an out-of-town contact. It may be easier to call out of the area if local phone lines are overloaded or out of service.


Emergency Planning Committee

A team of employees who work together to plan the COOP and how the organization will respond to a disaster or emergency. The size and makeup of this team should reflect your operations, requirements and resources.


Emergency Preparedness Kit and/or Supplies

A complete kit, sufficient for one person, to provide essential items an adult will need for at least three days after a disaster. It is intended for storage at home, and to be used at home or in a place where someone may go if local authorities ask for an evacuation.


Emergency Preparedness Training

As part of new employee orientation, providing emergency preparedness training to introduce staff to emergency response procedures in the workplace, such as evacuation or COOP activation.


Emergency Response Box

An easily accessible and mobile collection location where school administrators can include the following: several sets of master keys, emergency communication devices, whistles, hats and essential documents.


Emergency Response Efforts

Many supplies and services are often needed after an emergency or disaster and could include food preparation and distribution, damage assessment of physical structures, social service coordination and clean-up, just to name a few.


Emergency Response Plan

An emergency plan describing the steps a business, organization, school or school district will take to protect individuals during emergencies. The plan should address four phases of emergency planning – mitigation and prevention, preparedness, response and recovery.


Employee Capacity

The ability and capability of employees to take on new tasks and still be effective at the duties to which they were previously assigned.



The process of emptying a dangerous or potentially dangerous place of people. This process may also involve the movement of people to a safer place.


Evacuation Drills

An exercise where employees walk the evacuation routes to a designated area.


Evacuation Procedures

Plans that will ensure individuals know how to evacuate the structure or area if necessary. The plan should include a few evacuation routes should the primary one be unavailable.


Evacuation Warden

A trained individual designated to assist others in an evacuation and account for all employees and/or students.


External Emergency Response Resources

Medical personnel, police, fire department, emergency response teams, etc.


Family Communications Plan

A plan that addresses what to do, where to go, and who to contact in the event of an emergency. The plan should include an out-of-area relative or friend as an emergency contact in case local phone lines are not working. In addition to your out-of-area contact, include local emergency officials, doctors, hospitals, and a current list of phone numbers for everyone in your household and others you may need to contact.


Family Preparedness Checklist

A list of steps that will help families get started in preparing each household member and their home for disasters.A list of steps that will help families get started in preparing each household member and their home for disasters.


Fire Extinguisher

A multipurpose, dry chemical fire extinguisher filled with nontoxic monoammonium phosphate. This type of fire extinguisher is highly effective against type A, B and C fires. Type A fires involve ordinary combustible materials such as paper, wood, cardboard and plastics. Type B fires involve flammable or combustible liquids such as gasoline, kerosene, grease, and oil. Type C fires involve electrical equipment such as appliances, wiring, circuit breakers and outlets.


First Aid and Emergency Response Team (Medical Emergency Response Team)

Members of the business, organization or school who will be used to provide first aid during a disaster or other emergency. These individuals will be used until external resources arrive and can also be used to assist the external teams, if necessary.


First Aid Kit

A collection of materials used in first aid, particularly during a medical emergency. Most first aid kits contain various bandages, sterile dressing, sterile gauze pads, medical tape, hand sanitizer, antiseptic wipes, medical grade gloves, anti-bacterial ointment, cold pack, scissors, tweezers and a CPR breathing barrier.


First Aid Training

Teaches lay responders the knowledge and skills necessary to give care in an emergency, help sustain life and minimize the consequences of injury or sudden illness until medical help arrives.


Functional Drills

A drill that tests specific functions, such as alert systems and communications equipment.


Gathering Point

A pre-designated place where people will meet after an evacuation or emergency situation that is a safe distance from the hazard.


Hazard Vulnerability Assessment (HVA)

A document obtained from your local emergency management agency that outlines the local hazards that contribute to disasters most common in your region.


Health and Safety Training Courses

The full range of Health and Safety courses, including First Aid and CPR/AED for the Lay Responder and Professional Rescuer, Mission-Related Care giving, HIV/AIDS Prevention Education and Aquatics.


Home Preparedness Plan

A plan that takes into account disasters that could occur in a particular area, and then determines what actions to take based on the type of emergency. The plan includes evacuation routes, meeting places, and communication plans. It is also important to conduct an inspection of the home for possible hazards, create an inventory of preparedness supplies, and update the plan regularly.


Human Resource(s)

The skills and resources available to an organization in the form of their employees. For example, some employees might be trained in CPR and basic first aid.


Human-Caused Disaster

A disaster is an event that causes significant damage, destruction and/or human casualties that requires outside aid. Some of the more common human-caused disasters are arson, aircraft accidents, civil disorder, hazardous material spills, nuclear power plant accidents and terrorist activities.


Internal Resources

Resources, equipment and capabilities within the organization that are available to assist in the event of an emergency.


Leadership Structure

The leadership structure of a business, organization or school should clearly define roles and responsibilities, including reporting lines that each faculty, staff member or employee will play during emergency situations.



In a lockdown, exterior doors are locked and all students and staff stay in their classrooms. Windows may need to be covered. Lockdowns can be part of reverse evacuations.


Masters of Disaster

The award-winning Masters of Disaster® disaster preparedness curriculum teaches children how to prevent, prepare for, and respond to disasters and other emergencies.

To learn more about Masters of Disaster®, follow:


Medical Emergency Response Exercise

An exercise that assesses the medical emergency response team's capability to respond to and assist with emergency medical treatment in potential mass casualty incidents as well as other scenarios defined by the workplace.


National Disaster Volunteers

Employees trained to provide emergency assistance to people in your community who have been forced from their homes due to fire, flood, winter storms or other disasters. The volunteers will have an opportunity to work directly with people affected by disaster, helping them begin their own recovery and providing the resources made possible by our generous donors. Volunteers may choose from a range of specialty tracks, including mental health counseling, shelter operations and client services.


Natural Disaster

A disaster is an event that causes significant damage, destruction and/or human casualties that requires outside aid. Natural disasters can include hurricanes, flooding, tornados, earthquakes and landslides.


Personal/Employee Preparedness

People should take steps to be prepared for a variety of emergencies and disasters that could have an impact on their lives. Preparedness is defined as a state of full readiness and involves taking such steps as getting an emergency supply kit, making a plan and being informed.


Physical Capacity

The physical strength of a building's structure.



The state of being ready or prepared for something that is going to happen.


Ready Rating Assessments

Upon returning the Membership Agreement, businesses, organizations and schools are required to take an online emergency preparedness assessment.  Known as the ReadyGo and ReadyAdvance these assessments are designed to provide a simple tool for business and organizations to assess their current level of preparedness.


Ready Rating Baseline Measure

The first score achieved on the Ready Rating 123 Assessment.


Ready Rating Coordinator

The representative within your organization who will be responsible for working with the Red Cross on the Red Cross Ready Rating™ Program.


Ready Rating Membership Agreement

An agreement by the business, organization, or school to steadily improve emergency readiness over a one-year period. During this year, the member must follow the five-step criteria and complete at least one action that will enhance overall community preparedness.

If you would like a hard copy of the member agreement please click here.


Ready Rating Renewal Process

Ready Rating Members are required to reassess their preparedness level each year in order to track improvement. If the score increases by at least one point, the business/organization/school is automatically renewed as a Ready Rating Member for the following calendar year.


Ready Rating Seal

A Seal given to businesses/organizations/schools that are Members of the Red Cross Ready Rating™ Program. A new Seal will be distributed with each year of membership.


Red Cross Hazard Assessment Guide

A guide that helps businesses, organizations and schools to better understand their facility's capacities and vulnerability to a variety of emergencies and hazards.


Red Cross Ready Rating Member

Organizations that have signed the Membership Agreement and have pledged to follow the five-step criteria for the year.


Red Cross Ready Rating Program

A first-of-its-kind Membership program that guides businesses, organizations, and schools in preparing for emergencies, and recognizes its Members for their commitment to preparedness.


Red Cross Ready Rating Program Coordinator

The Red Cross representative who is responsible for day-to-day contact with Members and interested organizations.


Red Cross Ready Rating Program Founding Sponsor

Anheuser-Busch Companies, Inc. is the Founding Sponsor of the Red Cross Ready Rating™ Program.


Red Cross Shelter

There are four sheltering relationships or “models” that the Red Cross uses to define shelters:

  • Model 1. Red Cross Shelters – The traditional Red Cross shelter model; the Red Cross occupies a facility, plans, organizes, directs and controls every aspect of Red Cross services.
  • Model 2. Red Cross / Partner Shelters – Shelters that use the standard facility agreement; the majority of the volunteer staffing will come from the partner agency personnel.
  • Model 3. Red Cross Supported Shelters – Shelters where a community agency assumes responsibility for planning, organizing, directing and controlling every aspect of the shelter and the relief services provided.
  • Model 4. Independently Managed Shelters –.Shelters are run by community agencies who want to retain administrative control related to the provision of shelter and who do not wish to abide by the Red Cross Disaster Code of Conduct and/or may not want be supported by the Red Cross.


Reverse Evacuation

When an incident occurs outside that would require employees and/or students to return to the building.


Safe Room

The term "safe room" applies to all shelters, buildings or spaces designed to the FEMA criteria (whether for individuals, residences, small businesses, schools or communities). A residential safe room is designed to protect families or small groups of people (up to 16), while a community safe room is defined as a shelter designed and constructed to protect a larger group of people from a natural hazard event.


Safety Equipment

While this is not an exhaustive list, safety equipment should include first aid kits, automated external defibrillators (AEDs), fire extinguishers, bloodborne pathogen kits, carbon monoxide alarms and smoke alarms. The equipment should be checked and maintained according to manufacturer or government regulations.


Safety Stipend

Upon completing Ready Rating 123 Assessment, schools will receive a Red Cross Safety Stipend to assist with their emergency planning efforts.


Shelter in Place (SIP)

“Shelter in place” means to take immediate shelter where you are—at home, work, school, or in between. Chemical or radiological contaminants may be released accidentally or intentionally into the environment. If this occurs, local authorities may instruct you to “shelter in place” to best protect you and your family. Another scenario may be during a tornado, when authorities ask people to go to their safe rooms or shelter-in-place. Instructions to “shelter in place” usually last only a few hours, not days or weeks.


Shelter-in-Place (SIP) Drills

Employees, staff, and/or students are asked to proceed to designated shelter areas and follow the facility’s SIP procedures.


Shelter-in-Place Supplies

While this is not an exhaustive list, supplies for sheltering-in-place should include nonperishable food, bottled water, battery-operated radios, first aid supplies, flashlights, duct tape, plastic sheeting and plastic garbage bags.


Site Analysis

A detailed review of your facility and individuals to determine weak points that should be given special attention when preparing for an emergency. These points include a profile of known risks (people and the physical environment), evaluation of the environment, barrier issues, and logical access to AED equipment.


Smoke Alarm

A smoke detector is a device that detects smoke. Commercial, industrial and mass residential devices issue a signal to a fire alarm system, while household detectors, known as smoke alarms, generally issue a local audible and/or visual alarm from the detector itself.


Tabletop Exercises

A method of testing emergency plans that allows participants to review and discuss the actions that would be taken in the event of an emergency. Actions would actually be performed in a tabletop exercise.


Violence Prevention Strategies

Strategies that should ultimately reduce violence risk factors and promote protective factors.


Warning Systems and Procedures

A warning system is any system of biological or technical nature deployed by an individual or group to inform of a future danger. Its purpose is to enable the person who deploys the warning system to prepare for the danger and act accordingly to mitigate against or avoid it.


Organization Member Help Video