Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management

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Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management
OK Emergency Management logo.jpg
Department of Emergency Management logo
Agency overview
Formed May 29, 2003
Headquarters PO Box 53365
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Employees 20 classified
5 unclassified
Annual budget $59.6 million
Minister responsible
Agency executives
Website Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management

The Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management (OEM) is a department of the government of Oklahoma responsible for coordinating the response to a natural disaster that has occurred in the State and that has overwhelmed the abilities of local authorities. This is achieved primarily through the development and maintenance of a comprehensive statewide emergency management plan. OEM is responsible for coordinating the efforts of the federal government with other state departments and agencies, county and municipal governments and school boards, and with private agencies that have a role in emergency management.

The Director of Emergency Management is appointed by the Governor of Oklahoma with the advice and consent of the Oklahoma Senate, and serves at the pleasure of the Governor. The Director is head of the Department as well as the chief advisor to the Governor on emergency management.

The Department of Emergency Management was created in 2003 during the term of Governor Brad Henry by the Oklahoma Emergency Management Act of 2003.


The mission of OEM is to minimize the effects of attack, technological and natural disasters upon the people of Oklahoma by preparing, implementing and exercising preparedness plans, assisting local government subdivisions with training for and mitigation of disasters, and by coordinating actual disaster response/recovery operations.


The Department is under the supervision of the Oklahoma Secretary of Safety and Security and under the executive control of the Department's Director. Under Governor Mary Fallin, Michael C. Thompson is serving as Secretary (since 2011) and Albert Ashwood is serving as Director (since 1997).


The Department of Emergency Management (OEM) is the lead agency on all matters related to responding to and mitigation threats caused by natural disasters. To perform this function, the Department works closely with the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety, the Oklahoma State Department of Health, the Oklahoma National Guard, and the Oklahoma Office of Homeland Security. During times when the Governor of Oklahoma declares a state of emergency due to natural disasters, all of these agencies report to and receive orders from the Governor through OEM.

These relationship only applies however when the state of emergency is from a disaster. During non-disaster time, the Department of Public Safety, which is responsible for general law enforcement of the State through the Oklahoma Highway Patrol, is the Governor's chief public safety agent. OEM reports to the Office of Homeland Security, during emergencies or otherwise, on all matters related to homeland security or an act of terrorism. The State Health Department is the lead agency on disasters caused by the spread of infectious diseases or bioterrorism.

The National Guard, under the direction of the Adjutant General of Oklahoma, becomes the lead agency on any matter (emergency management related or otherwise) whenever the Governor so directs or when the Governor declares martial law.


The Department of Emergency Management was originally created as the Department of Civil Defense by legislative action in 1951. Soon after its creation, the Civil Defense agency and the Department of Emergency Resources Management were combined into one unified disaster aid organization, known as the Oklahoma Department of Civil Emergency Management. In 2003 the agency was renamed the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management. Today it is the central point of contact for coordination of four closely allied functions: Hazard Mitigation, Community Preparedness, Emergency Response and Disaster Recovery.


The budget of the Department of Emergency Management is divided between its operating fund, which is used to run administrative operations of the Department, and its special projects fund, which is used to respond to and recover from disaster. For fiscal year 2011, the operating fund is budgeted at $6.1 million and the special projects fund is budgeted at $53.5 million.[1]


  • Hazard Mitigation Division - assists local communities identify and implement long-term hazard mitigation measures
  • Community Preparedness Division - provides forum for coordination between federal, state, and local agencies in responding to disasters
  • Emergency Response Division - coordinates State emergency response operations and oversees Emergency Operations Center
  • Disaster Recovery Division - implements procedures to deliver State and Federal aid to persons affected by emergencies
  • Administrative Division - provides central direction to entire Department

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