Becoming an Emergency Management Specialist

There is an incredible shortage of individuals who are educated and qualified to lead the response to emergencies and natural disasters. A short few decades ago, if someone even wanted to pursue a career as an emergency manager, there wasn’t a definition, let alone any education programs offering course study leading to a certificate or diploma. Emergency management was typically left up to police or fire officials. Efforts were executed from the perspectives held by these types of officials – and not always all-inclusive.

Industry Emerges
However, today a perspective upon emergency management has developed changes within the industry based upon the human experience dealing with emergencies such as terrorist responses and natural disasters. Although the normal person on the street still may not understand what emergency management entails, experiences of the past couple of decades have influenced quite a few prestigious schools across the nation to establish courses of study that prepare individuals for careers as emergency response managers. It wasn’t until April 1, 1979 that the U.S. government realized a need for a specific agency dedicated to response when it created the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Its purpose was to coordinate responses to disasters that happened within the U. S. that would overwhelm the local and state resources.

What is Emergency Management?

The short answer is it is the area of expertise for the prevention of, preparation for, the response to and the recovery from emergencies whether human influenced or a natural disaster. Emergency management typically brings together in the time of crisis as an umbrella for coordinating services from a number of related areas that include public safety, security, fire fighting, medical services, logistics as wells as other areas pertinent to disaster management such as transportation, fuel and power management and more. Once these services responded to emergencies without little, if any, coordinated effort. Experience showed a great need existed for a single entity to take the lead to direct coordinated efforts leading to the creation of not only a national emergency response effort, but influenced the creation of state and local coordinated efforts as well. Education programs grew out of a need to train individuals to manage these efforts.

What is Emergency Management Education?
Most emergency management programs will include courses such as risk communication, technology use, hazards identification, services coordination and more. Some programs, depending on focus, could include the study of geology, climatology and even ecology. Obvious skills need to be acquired including ones in stress management, psychology, sociology, planning and execution, as well as making decisions under pressure. Often, program study will include internships and possible paid jobs in real-life settings where classroom knowledge can be put to practical use. Emergency managers learn to collaborate and coordinate the efforts of other professionals including emergency medical technicians, paramedics, environmental responders and protection technicians (Haz-Mat), fire fighters, police, military, doctors and nurses, occupational health and safety specialists, ambulance dispatch and drivers as well as members from private contingency planning operations.

Benefits as an Emergency Manager

Individuals with healthcare management experience are great candidates for this up and coming career choice. Skillfully trained and educated professionals are needed at all levels providing exceptional opportunity for individuals willing to undergo the challenges seeking an education and the credentials in this management career. A master’s degree in Health Sciences Emergency and Disaster Management is an advanced degree that individuals already possessing a healthcare management degree can pursue that teaches students critical thinking and the on-the-spot decision-making skills necessary to be successful managing any natural or human-induced crises. Opportunities in the comi9ng decade will be many making this as good a time as ever to consider entering the field.

The field of emergency management is one that is continually changing and adapting to the demands presented by both nature and society. Individuals entering this career will be active participants sharpening its future while enjoying a personally and financially rewarding career.