May 21, 2022
Emergency Management

All About the Role of an Emergency Management Specialist

Working in emergency management is an exciting career choice for anybody who is interested in making a positive difference to the world. If you often watch news of disasters and emergencies around the world and wish that you could do something to help, choosing this career path is one of the top ways that you can do just that. Emergency and disaster management is a sub-field of the wider public safety industry. 

What Does an Emergency Manager Do?

An emergency or disaster management specialist is tasked with making sure that both man-made and natural disasters are prevented, prepared for, and that any resulting damage is quickly dealt with and remedied. An emergency management specialist must stay up to date when it comes to the best disaster response options and is required to have strategies put in place to efficiently implement disaster and crisis management plans. One major part of the role of an emergency management specialist is to train people to act reasonably and in the best interests of everybody involved, particularly when faced with a disaster situation. Emergency management specialists may be employed by governments, companies, or regional and community agencies. 

How Emergency Management Specialists Respond to Disasters

The way that an emergency or disaster management specialist will respond to a disaster will depend on several factors, including the source of the disaster and the type and scope of the damage that it has resulted in. Natural disasters, for example hurricanes, floods or earthquakes, will typically require strategies and actions that are very different from man-made disasters such as warfare, terrorism, and cybercrime. Accidental disasters, such as spills of hazardous or toxic materials, or malfunctions at a nuclear power plant, will require different, specific approaches to minimize the negative impact on the public. 

Education and Skills Needed

To work successfully in the role of an emergency management specialist, professionals should gain specific training to prepare them for this career path. An emergency management diploma from Wilfred Laurier University following a degree in public safety or another relevant topic is an ideal pathway to consider if you are interested in getting into this interesting and rewarding career. Emergency management specialists are required to possess excellent communication and teamwork skills. They will often work closely with law enforcement, fire departments, and local healthcare providers to develop plans to be put in place in the event of an emergency or disaster, involving the cooperation and focus of a range of different agencies. They should have excellent analytical skills, project management skills, organizational skills, and research skills. Some of the most important skills required are:

Interpersonal Skills: When working in this role, it’s important to be clear and concise when delivering emergency response plans to others and ensuring that all involved in the response understand what is expected of them. An emergency management specialist will need to convey their plan and strategies to a range of different audiences including law enforcement, healthcare professionals, emergency response professionals, and government agencies, along with the general public. 

Decision Making and Critical Thinking Skills: Part of this role involves thinking ahead to anticipate what might go wrong in a range of different situations. Being able to think clearly even when you are under stress or pressure is crucial. Since the decisions that you make will have a huge impact, it’s important for these professionals to be confident and decisive

Leadership Skills: Working with diverse teams is a main part of the role. Good leadership skills are essential to a successful emergency response plan. 

What Does the Role Involve?

The main responsibility of an emergency management specialist is to propose and implement solid plans to prepare for emergency events or disasters. In this role, professionals must conduct extensive research to determine which approaches are likely to be the most successful in real-life situations based on what has worked well and what hasn’t been successful in the past. An emergency management specialist will need to study and research references of events that have occurred in the past with similar populations and comparable medical and shelter resources to the area that they are developing the crisis response plan for. Another key part of the job is to educate communities on the best approaches to potential emergencies and disaster situations, and to answer resident questions. 

Emergency management specialists are often the first point of call in a situation where an emergency response plan is needed. In addition, it is the responsibility of this professional to ensure that all relevant individuals or organizations are kept updated to any changes to major chains of command, designated shelter locations, and other changes to both local and regional emergency and disaster response plans. 

Personal Qualities Needed

Due to the nature of this work, an emergency management specialist should be somebody who can stay composed and be a calming, confident influence on others in various states of emergency or disaster. While the role does involve a lot of planning and preparing for emergency situations to lessen the impact, and preventing disasters from occurring wherever possible, the emergency management specialist will often be the first point of contact in a situation where there may be widespread fear and panic. Because of this, this professional must be somebody who is calm and collected no matter what, with excellent organizational and leadership skills. 

How to Get Into the Role

There are several routes that you can take to become an emergency management specialist. Depending on where you want to work, there may or may not be specific educational requirements. Some roles will take you on based on experience as long as you are educated to a certain level, while others will require you to have a public safety qualification or similar. Professionals with a background in environmental or economic planning, law enforcement, and healthcare tend to be strongly preferred for this kind of role. Experience dealing with emergency situations such as triage procedures or developing emergency response plans in a previous role can help you stand out as an applicant. 

If you’re interested in a role where you can help society be more prepared for inevitable emergency situations, or prevent disasters from happening with good planning, an emergency management specialist role could be ideal for you.

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