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The purpose of this paper is to initiate the design of a framework for defining and capturing disaster management systems (DMS). Recognizing the management of disasters as complex adaptive systems (CAS), whose performance cannot be improved through the isolated optimization of their constituents, this paper proposes the adoption of model-based systems engineering (MBSE) to capturing the behavior of such systems, as well as the structure responsible for their behaviors. Using a domain-independent language such as the systems modeling language (SysML) to implement MBSE, the holistic approach proposed here effectively introduces a new paradigm in disaster management studies that is aimed at reducing the aforementioned complexity. By enforcing traceability between the DMS subsystems, and by leveraging artifacts such as viewpoints to develop perspectives that are tailored to specific stakeholders and users, it is anticipated that a MBSE-based holistic approach such as the one presented in this paper will promote proper use of the scientific method for the design, verification, validation and improvement of disaster management systems.