Because disasters start locally, county emergency management coordinators and agencies have a vital role in preparation for, response to, and recovery from disasters - both natural and man-made. Local emergency management agencies are the backbone of the state's emergency management system. They provide coordination of local resources and work in partnership with HSEMD to ensure the emergency management and response communities have adequately planned, and are well-equipped, trained, and exercised.
County boards of supervisors, city councils, and the sheriff in each county must establish a commission to carry out the provisions of Iowa law (Iowa Code, Chapter 29C). These local commissions each appoint an emergency management coordinator, who is responsible to fulfill the commission's duties. Two or more county commissions (with the approval of their respective boards of supervisors and cities) may enter into an agreement for a multi-county emergency management agency.