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As an emergency manager, you develop and direct an organization’s emergency operation program and provide the framework for organizational activities during emergency operations. There are five main elements of emergency management: preparedness, prevention, mitigation, response, and recovery. You are also responsible for conducting public outreach activities to educate and ensure everyone is prepared for emergency situations.
At a glanceImagine you are looking through a pair of binoculars, watching flames race across the side of a nearby mountain. You are an emergency manager and these flames are part of a 150 square-kilometre fire that has been burning in the area for the last five days. Now the fire is coming too close to town, and it is time for you to go to work. You have spent months preparing, practising, and refining an emergency response program for the town that will now be put to the test. As an emergency manager, you are the leader everyone looks to in a situation like this. You have kept a close eye on the fire, but as the flames advance toward town, you decide the situation now warrants the activation of the emergency response program. Your first step is to contact the program's telephone network to call in emergency-team members. Everyone meets at the local school, which according to the program becomes the Emergency Operations Centre (EOC). Each member of the team has clearly outlined duties, but in emergency situations, it is important to work together. One member of the team checks that the EOC has all the necessary phones, radios, fax machines, and computers, while another member alerts all parties on the emergency contact list, including local television and radio stations, federal and provincial government authorities, and municipal officials. You coordinate another group of team members who are gathering cots, sheets, blankets, and pillows and setting up an evacuation centre in the school gym. Once you have word that neighbourhoods closest to the fire must be evacuated, you issue a bulletin notifying residents of the evacuation orders. Your regular education programs and media briefings have prepared the community for emergency situations like this, so everyone knows to follow your instructions. For the next few days, you will receive regular updates on the forest fire threat, and in turn will keep the public informed and protected.
Job dutiesDuties vary significantly from job to job, but the following list includes typical job duties one might encounter as an emergency manager:
- Establish and coordinate emergency management committees and volunteer networks.
- Develop relationships and networks with municipal and provincial agencies.
- Create and maintain updated contact lists for local authorities.
- Develop, maintain, and execute emergency management plans.
- Design and deliver public education programs and materials.
- Establish and equip a primary and alternate Emergency Operations Centre.
- Prepare budgets and funding requirements for emergency management initiatives and equipment.
- Conduct hazard identifications and risk assessments for communities.
- Evaluate emergency plans and prepare recommendations for officials.
- Prepare a debriefing report following major incidents and emergencies.
Work environmentEmergency managers work in a variety of locations, including, but not limited to: In the office:
- Developing emergency response plans and procedures
- Developing public awareness and education programs
- Communicating on the phone and in meetings with emergency response professionals, government officials, volunteer networks, and the public
- Managing and participating in projects, committees, and working groups
- Preparing incident briefs and reports
- Preparing and administering budgets
- Recruiting and training emergency response volunteers
- Participating in mock incidents and evaluating exercises
- Delivering public awareness and education programs
- Directing Emergency Operations Centre during emergency situations
Where to workThere are a number of places emergency managers can find employment. They include:
- Federal, provincial/territorial, and municipal governments
- Not-for-profit and non-governmental organizations
- Large corporations, including manufacturing and industrial plants
- Consulting and business continuity firms
Education & requirementsIf you are a high school student considering a career as an emergency manager, you should have strong marks or an interest in:
- Social Studies
- Emergency Management
- Environmental Health
- Health Sciences
- Risk Management
- Geographic Information Systems