Emergency management is a constantly evolving profession. Anyone wishing to become an emergency manager or work in emergency services should be able to adjust to an ever changing environment and bring calm and structure to a crisis response. Emergency management studies teach students how to develop critical thinking skills and a thorough understanding of the emergency management cycle and incident management process.
Developing Critical Skills
Education plays a critical role in building these skills and preparing students for a career in emergency management, which typically requires at least a bachelor’s degree. However, some professionals go a step further and earn a master’s degree as well. Writing and presenting ideas in a structured and concise way are skills that emergency management students acquire over time. As these students transition from the academic to the real-world environment, speaking and presenting ideas to a variety of audiences becomes very important.
At the core of the profession is the development of plans, policies, and procedures to support, protect, and strengthen the community against threats and hazards. To demonstrate a commitment to community and service, many successful students gain practical experience by volunteering in local emergency management, fire services, emergency medical services, Red Cross, The Salvation Army, or one of the many other volunteer organizations that have emergency service components. Other notable skills for the successful emergency manager include the ability to: think critically; communicate and present skills effectively; and discuss community planning and preparedness efforts in a clear and concise manner. He or she also must be able to: hold workshops and provide briefings to inform the public in times of crisis; understand the tools, systems, and standards commonly used in public safety, such as the National Incident Management System; and continue training, as well as sharing and discussing best practices.
The role of crisis management continues to expand into many private sector areas to include healthcare facilities, utilities, financial institutions, as well as colleges and universities. Because emergency preparedness professionals are now working in many areas outside the public sector, those seeking to work in these areas must understand the details of operations in these sectors as well as in emergency management.
The emergency manager of the future also may transition from other professions to emergency management. In the private sector, for example, emergency preparedness may be a collateral duty, leading many to seek a master’s degree in emergency management or choose to enter certificate programs that provide education that complements their existing education.
Younger Training & Greater Opportunities
A trend that will likely continue to grow in 2014 is incorporating emergency management and responder education into high school curriculums. In New York City, for example, a first of its kind high school dedicated to emergency management studies is midway through its first year. The Urban Assembly School for Emergency Management (UASEM) is a Career and Technical Education program and is part of the New York City Public School system. The focus of the program is to integrate emergency management and response curriculum into the core high school experience. Students receive their core high school education through 10th grade, after which they choose from one of three tracks: Response and Recovery, Emergency Communications and Technology, or Emergency Management.
One major success of the program has been the school’s ability to collaborate with local emergency management and disaster relief organizations to provide students with real-world interaction and community readiness. Students graduating from the UASEM program will be well on their way to meeting the training and experience requirements for the International Association of Emergency Managers, Certified Emergency Manager designation. In fact, the students may earn up to 14 college credits upon completing this high school program.
The growing threat of terrorism has changed the role of emergency managers; planning for the consequences of terrorist actions has changed the face of emergency management. However, the mission remains the same. The emphasis continues to be on developing an all-hazard, integrated strategy to protect communities in times of crisis. Emergency management students of the future will need to develop risk assessment and operational planning skills to address communitywide preparedness.
Emergency managers must continue to develop strategies to effectively respond to and recover from all known threats, including terrorism. Emergency planners are working to develop effective operational plans that foster integration of federal, state, and local disaster preparedness, response, recovery, and risk-reduction initiatives.
Anthony S. Mangeri
Anthony S. Mangeri, MPA, CPM, CEM, has more than 30 years of experience in emergency operations and public safety. During the terrorist attacks of 9/11, he served as operations chief at the New Jersey Emergency Operations Center, coordinating that state’s response to the passenger-aircraft crashes into the World Trade Center. He has served his community as a volunteer firefighter and an emergency medical technician (EMT) for more than 25 years, ultimately earning the rank of assistant chief/safety officer and serving as the fire department’s health and safety officer for many years. Currently, he is a consultant focusing on emergency management, planning, training, and exercising. He is also on the faculty of several universities. He serves on several professional committees, including the ASIS Fire and Life Safety Council, and is president of the International Association of Emergency Managers (IAEM) Region 2. He earned a Master of Public Administration from Rutgers University. He is a Certified Public Manager and has received the IAEM’s designation of Certified Emergency Manager.