Describe the skills and specialized knowledge needed to be an effective emergency manager in today’s system of emergency management.
The field of emergency management is an evolving landscape. In the past 10 years, several large-scale disasters have altered the practice of emergency management. Within the United States, oversight from organizations such as the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)—in addition to coordinating response/recovery efforts with the military—has revealed immense challenges in executing disaster response and recovery activities. Most notably, 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina served as valuable lessons for developing effective strategies aimed at disaster response and recovery. With many revisions to policy for executing response and recovery activities, the skill set of emergency managers continually changes.
Other emergencies and major disasters have revealed that the field of emergency management is not an exact science. The BP oil spill, for example, or the earthquake that struck Haiti revealed inconsistencies in the execution of disaster response and recovery efforts. The goal is to reach a level of executable standards to promote ultimate recovery. With that in mind, to what extent has the emergency manager’s role changed? How will this role continue to change and what improvements to the field of emergency management, if any, will result from these changes?