Emergency Plan Glossary

Advisory – Issued by Public Health to staff and to the public when the message is about an event, situation or condition that may:

  • Cause an inconvenience or concern about human health to the target audience
  • Pose a serious threat to human health
  • Take place or is likely to occur
  • Immediate action is needed 

Alert – Issued by Public Health to staff and to the public when the message is about an event, situation or condition that causes or is very likely to cause illness, injury or death to the target audience; is taking place within the jurisdiction or is about to take place; and requires immediate action.

Antivirals (such as TAMIFLU) – Drugs used for the prevention and early treatment of influenza. If taken shortly after getting sick (within 48 hours) can reduce influenza symptoms, shorten length of illness and reduce serious complications.

Area Municipality – The municipalities and townships within Public Health’s jurisdiction, namely Wellington County, Dufferin County and the City of Guelph.

Biological Hazard – Exposure to a biological agent (body fluid, microorganisms, toxins or biocides) that can cause sickness or disease in a human or animal.

Bulletin – A brief report of important and often unexpected news; does not require immediate action.

Business Cycle Meeting – The formal meeting in the Incident Management System (IMS) in which the Incident Manager requests updates and information from Command staff and Section Coordinators in order to prepare an Incident Action Plan (IAP).

Case – A person with the disease or problem under investigation.

Case Definition – The distribution of symptoms and clinical signs of a sufficient number of cases to characterize the definition for clinical cases.

Case Management – Process of interviewing a case to obtain interesting indices and useful information on exposure, which helps develop the hypothesis. Also as a means for contact tracing and to ensure treatment.

Chemical Hazard – Exposure to a chemical agent that can cause sickness or disease in a human or animal.

Communications Cycle – During an emergency, the schedule of meetings, interviews and release of approved information to the public, affected populations and community partners.

Community Resilience – The capacity of a community to counter hazards, to withstand loss or damage and to recover from the impact of an emergency.

Community Officer – Staff member from Emergency Management Ontario who acts as liaison between an affected community and the province of Ontario on emergency management matters.

Community Risk Profile – Identifies hazards and risks in a community based on probability and consequences of an event occurring. Used as a framework for emergency response planning.

Consequence – A determination of how severe a hazard is or might be under certain circumstances. This process is fundamental to the process of determining a community’s vulnerable areas and populations.

Contact Tracing – The identification and notification of contacts of a case of a communicable/reportable disease. Depending on the disease prophylaxis or treatment, it may be indicated to interrupt transmission of the disease.

Control Group – The management team responsible for coordinating the response to a community emergency comprised of municipal staff, the Head of Council and representatives from community organizations. Control Groups may function at the lower tier, or at the County level.

County Warden – The Head of Council for the County of Wellington or the County of Dufferin and Chair of the respective Municipal Control Group.

Distribution – Refers to analysis by times, places and persons affected.

Emergency – (Federal)  “An abnormal situation that demands prompt, coordinated actions that exceed normal procedures, thereby limiting damage to person, property and/or the environment”;  (Provincial)  “a situation or impending situation caused by the forces of nature, an accident, intentional act or otherwise that constitutes a danger of major proportions to life or property.”

Epidemic – The occurrence in a population (community or region) of cases of an illness/condition in excess of the normal expectancy.

Epidemiology – The study of the distribution of health-related states in a specified population.

Evacuation–Full – An emergency of any type that requires the evacuation of one or more of the WDGPH offices to another office location or a temporary facility in the community. It may be short-term or long-term.

Evacuation-Partial – An emergency of any type that requires the evacuation of part of one or more of the WDGPH offices, such as a specific floor or service area to another of the WDGPH offices.  It may be short-term or long-term.

Exclusions – Authority given under legislative acts that allows the Medical Officer of Health to order a person to be excluded from attending a school or daycare to avoid ongoing transmissions within these settings.

Exposure – A general term to indicate contact with the postulated causal factors (or agents of disease) used in a way similar to risk factor.

External or Community Emergency – A situation or impending situation that constitutes a danger of major proportions that could result in serious harm to persons or substantial damage to property and that is caused by the forces of nature, a disease or other health risk, an accident or an act whether intentional or otherwise.

Fan-out – A telephone notification system that begins with telephone calls placed by key personnel who in turn notify others of the disaster, creating a multiplied effect.

Hazards – Conditions or processes that cause, or have the potential to cause, harm or loss to people and/or property. The hazard (undesirable event) produces adverse consequences and the possibility of an emergency. It is an event or physical condition that has the potential to cause fatalities, injuries, property damage, infrastructure damage, agricultural loss, damage to the environment, interruption of business or other types of harm or loss:

  • A likely hazard is a hazard that has occurred in recent memory and is likely to occur again.
  • A possible hazard is a hazard that has not occurred in recent memory, but could occur based on prior incidence or expert assessment (e.g., a nuclear facility incident, terrorism or earthquake).
  • An unlikely hazard is a hazard that has never occurred, and will not likely occur (e.g., a mine emergency where there is no mine).

Health Hazard

(a) A condition of a premises

(b) A substance, thing, plant or animal other than man or

(c) A solid, liquid or combination that has, or that is likely to have, an adverse effect on the health of any person

Hotline – Telephone line(s) set up to manage an increase in call volume to the organization on an emerging situation/problem of interest.

Impact – Expressed quantitatively or qualitatively, it is the estimated damage/loss to, or the ultimate effect on an entity as an outcome of an event caused by a hazard. This phase may last for moments (e.g., a tornado or crash) or for several days (e.g., a flood or forest fire).

Internal Emergency – An incident, such as a fire, power failure or bomb threat that occurs within the agency and affects staff’s safety and well-being and agency resources. The response to the incident may or may not impact on the agency’s overall ability to deliver programs and services. 

Jurisdiction – The geographical area under the authority of Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health, comprising Wellington County, Dufferin County and the City of Guelph.

Mitigation/Prevention – Actions taken to eliminate or reduce the degree of long-term risk to human life, property and the environment from natural and technological hazards. Mitigation assumes that we are exposed to risks whether or not an emergency occurs. Mitigation measures include, but are not limited to, hazard and risk analysis, monitoring and inspection, public education, safety policies and procedures, building design, insurance, legislation and stocking emergency supplies.

Municipal Emergency Control Group – The management team responsible for coordinating the response to a community emergency, comprised of municipal staff, the Head of Council and representatives from community organizations. Control Groups may function at the lower tier, or at the County level.

On-Call – A system put in place to ensure 24/7 access to a Public Health professional for the purpose of reporting a reportable disease, outbreak or another emergency with public health significance.

Outbreak – The sudden increase in the incidence of a disease or condition in a specific area.

Pandemic – An epidemic occurring worldwide that crosses international boundaries and affects a large number of people.

Patient Confidentiality – The maintenance of privacy by not sharing or divulging privileged or trusted information to a third party.

Person Under Investigation – Anyone who is being investigated for symptoms of clinical illness consistent with the disease under investigation in an outbreak.

Preparedness – Actions that are taken in advance of an emergency to develop operational capabilities and facilitate an effective response should an emergency occur. 

Probability – The determination of the likelihood of occurrence for each identified community hazard, often judged by past experience and expert advice.

Quarantine – Ordered limitation of the freedom of movement of healthy persons or domestic animals that have been exposed to a communicable disease (for a period of time equal to the longest incubation period of the disease).

Radiological Hazard – Possible contamination or undue exposure to atomic radiation.

Recall – Action taken to remove a product from the market.

Recovery – Activity that returns vital support systems to minimum operating standards and long-term activity designed to return life to normal or an improved level including some form of economic viability. Recovery measures include crisis counselling, damage assessment, debris clearance, computer systems restoration, disaster unemployment assistance and full-scale business resumption.

Rescind Notices – Official documentation that notifies the end of an MOH-ordered exclusion of a student. It is sent to the school and parents to allow the student to return to their or daycare.

Response – Actions taken immediately before, during or directly after an emergency event to save lives, minimize damage to property and the environment, and enhance the effectiveness of recovery. Response measures include, but are not limited to, emergency plan and alert-system activation, emergency instructions to the public, emergency medical assistance, emergency operations centre staffing, senior management alerting, resource mobilization and warning systems activation.

Severity – The potential or intensity associated with a hazard to disrupt normal operations and/or cause damage to an entity. (Severity of a hazard may be countered with measures to lower an entity’s vulnerability to the hazard.)

Social Isolation – Healthy people who have been exposed to a communicable disease and are within an incubation period are asked to restrict all social activities where they may expose others to the disease (e.g., school, daycares, after school activities, theatres, pools, etc.).

Surveillance – The systematic ongoing collection, collation and analysis of the data and the timely dissemination of information to those who need to know so that action can be taken.

Total Coliform – The coliform group of microorganisms has been the most commonly used bacteriological indicator of water quality. Their presence in drinking water is indicative of inadequate disinfection.

Triage – The sorting of incoming evacuees or casualties requiring treatment or care, whereby priorities are determined to affect the placement of the victims for treatment purposes.

Update – Provides new information about an event, situation or condition that the target audience is aware of through previous communications.

Vaccines – Administered orally or by injection and are the primary means to prevent illness and death from certain communicable diseases. They cause the production of antibodies against the virus included in the vaccine, providing immunity against the virus.

Virulence – Severity of disease in a host expressed as a ratio of the number of cases of severe disease and fatalities divided by the total number infected.

Vulnerability – The degree of susceptibility to potential hazards in terms of damage or losses from such hazards as faced by a specific entity, the environment or population.

Warning – Applies mainly to emergencies with a more gradual onset– those that may be forecast. For instance, severe weather patterns and rising flood levels may be issued as warnings allowing time for preparation.