This Field Operations Guide (FOG) for Disaster Assessment and Response has been developed by the U.S. Agency for International Development/Bureau for Democracy, Conflict, and Humanitarian Assistance/Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) as a reference tool for individuals sent to disaster sites to undertake initial assessments or to participate as members of an OFDA Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART).

The FOG contains information on general responsibilities for disaster responders, formats and reference material for assessing and reporting on populations at risk, DART position descriptions and duty checklists, descriptions of OFDA stockpile commodities, general information related to disaster activities, information on working with the military in the field, and a glossary of acronyms and terms used by OFDA and other organizations with which OFDA works.

In developing the FOG, OFDA has drawn on many sources for information, including the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Handbook for Emergencies; the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination Field Handbook; the World Health Organization booklet, New Emergency Health Kit; the United Nations Children’s Fund handbook, Assisting in Emergencies; the U.S. State Department, Bureau for Population, Refugees, and Migration Assessment Manual for Refugee Emergencies; the U.S. Public Health Service Handbook of Environmental Health; the American Public Health Association Control of Communicable Diseases Manual; the Sphere Project; reference materials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the University of Wisconsin’s Disaster Management Center, the American Red Cross, and InterWorks; USAID policies and directives; information from the Office of Food for Peace, Office of Transition Initiatives, and the U.N. World Food Program; and OFDA procedures, records, and staff expertise.

The FOG’s size and format are modeled on the National Wildfire Coordinating Group’s Fireline Handbook, which is used by wild-land firefighters throughout the United States.

The search and rescue (SAR) component of a DART is more fully described in a separate operations guide developed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which specifically addresses SAR activities. These documents are available at

The FOG is designed to be a useful source of information in a compact, usable format for a variety of field operations. In the interest of conserving space and keeping the FOG to a manageable size, no index is provided. The extensive listing on the Contents page should assist in locating information quickly by specific subject. Comments for revision should be directed to:

USAID DCHA/OFDA Operations Division Washington, DC 20523 USA

The FOG is posted on the World Wide Web at:

This publication (ISBN 0-16-049721-3) is also available through the U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO), Superintendent of Documents, Mail Stop: SSOP, Washington, DC 20402-9328.

This is the third revision of the original Guide to Field Operations for Disaster Response produced in 1992, initially revised as the FOG in 1994 and updated in 1998. This revision includes new information that reflects changes and trends in humanitarian assistance since 1998. The FOG was developed for OFDA by the U.S. Department of Agriculture/Forest Service under its International Programs Office. That office’s Disaster Assistance Support Program (DASP) is managed with funds and direction provided by the U.S. Agency for International Development/Bureau for Democracy, Conflict, and Humanitarian Assistance/Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance under Participating Agency Service Agreement: DCH-P-00-03-00002.

OFDA September 2005