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Homeland Security

Emergency Services Sector

Emergency Services Sector

A system of prevention, preparedness, response, and recovery elements, the Emergency Services Sector (ESS) represents the nation's first line of defense in the prevention and mitigation of risk from both intentional and unintentional manmade incidents, as well as from natural disasters. The ESS also serves as the primary protector for the other 15 critical infrastructure sectors.

Encompassing a wide range of emergency response functions, the primary mission of the ESS is to:

  • Save lives.
  • Protect property and the environment.
  • Assist communities impacted by disasters.
  • Aid in recovery from emergencies.

These functions, the majority of which are performed at the state, local, tribal, and territorial levels, are defined by five disciplines:

  • Law Enforcement.
  • Fire and Emergency Services.
  • Emergency Management.
  • Emergency Medical Services.
  • Public Works.

Additionally, there are several specialized capabilities identified within the ESS, such as:

  • Hazardous Materials. 
  • Search and Rescue.
  • Explosive Ordnance Disposal (i.e., bomb squads).
  • Tactical Operations (i.e., SWAT).
  • Aviation Units (i.e., police and medevac helicopters).
  • Public Safety Answering Points (i.e., 9-1-1 call centers).

Sector-Specific Plan

The Emergency Services Sector-Specific Plan (PDF, 128 pages - 3.8 MB) details how the National Infrastructure Protection Plan risk management framework is implemented within the context of the unique characteristics and risk landscape of the sector. Each Sector-Specific Agency develops a sector-specific plan through a coordinated effort involving its public and private sector partners. The Department of Homeland Security is designated as the Sector-Specific Agency for the Emergency Services Sector.

The ESS has dependencies and interdependencies with multiple critical infrastructure sectors and the National Response Framework's Emergency Support Functions, which provide assistance for both the operation and protection of ESS assets.

For more information, contact the Emergency Services Sector-Specific Agency at

Last Published Date: October 20, 2014
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