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An Emergency Management Response to an EMP Attack

What might happen if an Electromagnetic Pulse strikes the USA? The consequences of such a detonation would be dire. According to experts, The U.S. can sustain a population of 320 million people only because of modern technology. An EMP that blacks out the electric grid for a year would decimate the critical infrastructure necessary to support such a large population.[1]

Aircraft electronics would be fried, as well as electronics in air traffic control towers, and navigation systems. Airliners would crash killing many of the 500,000 people flying over North America at any given moment.

  • Electro-mechanical systems that regulate the flow of gas through pipelines would spark; causing the gas to ignite and result in massive firestorms in cities and large forest fires.

  • There would be no water; no communications; and mass transportation would be paralyzed.

  • In seven days, reactors in U.S.’ nuclear power plants would essentially melt down, spreading radioactivity across most of the nation.

  • In three days, the food supply in local grocery stores would be consumed and the 30-day national food supply in regional warehouses would begin to spoil.

  • In one year up to 90 percent of the population could perish from starvation, disease and societal collapse.

What could be done to ensure the protection of the Grid and in the off chance that the grid is destroyed, restored? I believe that this sort of event would call for an Emergency Manager, who would follow the all four phases of emergency management.


The mitigation phase calls for preventing future emergencies and minimizing their effects. This step would look to programs that minimize the effects of a possible EMP. Shielding is one way to mitigate the effects of EMP’s. Research on the type and strength of the EMP is critical as we work on mitigation projects.


Preparing to handle the EMP emergency is a vital step. Preparedness includes plans or preparations made to save lives and to help response and rescue operations succeed. The preparedness phase also includes evacuation plans, procedures for stocking food and water. In the case of an EMP, the preparedness phase is very important.


Once the event occurs, we need to focus on responding safely to an emergency. This includes the actions taken to save lives and prevent further property damage in an emergency. Response is putting your preparedness plans into action. This phase includes activities that take place during an emergency.


The recovery phase looks to help the community recover from an emergency. In the case of an EMP attack, a large portion of the nation will be impacted. The recovery phase includes actions taken to return to a normal or an even safer situation following an emergency. Recovery includes getting financial assistance to help pay for the repairs.

While an Electromagnetic Pulse affecting the United States could be devastating, the emergency manager has the tools in place to tackle anything, including an EMP.


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