Emergency management directors typically do the following:
Emergency management directors are responsible for planning and leading the responses to natural disasters and other emergencies. Directors work with government agencies, nonprofits, private companies, and the public to develop effective plans that minimize damage and disruptions during an emergency.
To develop emergency response plans, directors typically research “best practices” from around the country and from other emergency management agencies. Directors also must prepare plans and procedures that meet local, state, and federal regulations.
Directors must analyze the resources, equipment, and staff available to respond to emergencies. If resources are limited or equipment is lacking, directors must either revise their plans or get what they need from another community or state. Many directors coordinate with fire, emergency medical service, police departments, and public works agencies in other communities to locate and share equipment during an emergency. Directors must be in contact with other agencies to collect and share information regarding the scope of the emergency, the potential costs, and the resources or staff needed.
After they develop plans, emergency management directors typically ensure that individuals and groups become familiar with the emergency procedures. Directors often use social media to disseminate plans and warnings to the public.
Emergency management directors oversee training courses and disaster exercises for staff, volunteers, and local agencies to help ensure an effective and coordinated response to an emergency. Directors also may visit schools, hospitals, or other community groups to provide updates on plans for emergencies.
During an emergency, directors typically maintain a command center at which staff monitor and manage the emergency operations. Directors help lead the response, prioritizing certain actions if necessary. These actions may include ordering evacuations, conducting rescue missions, or opening public shelters for those displaced by the emergency. Emergency management directors also may need to conduct press conferences or other outreach activities to keep the public informed about the emergency.
Following an emergency, directors must assess the damage to their community and coordinate getting any needed assistance and supplies into the community. Directors may need to request state or federal assistance to help execute their emergency response plan and provide support to affected citizens, organizations, and communities. Directors may also revise their plans and procedures to prepare for future emergencies or disasters.
Emergency management directors working for hospitals, universities, or private companies may be called business continuity managers. Similar to their counterparts in local and state government, business continuity managers prepare plans and procedures to help businesses maintain operations and minimize losses during and after an emergency.
Emergency management directors typically need a bachelor’s degree in a business-related field, emergency management, or public health. Some directors working in the private sector in business continuity management may need a degree in computer science, information systems administration, or another information technology (IT) field.
Small municipalities or local governments may hire applicants whose highest level of educational attainment is a high school diploma. However, these applicants usually must have extensive work experience in emergency management if they are to be hired.
Some states require directors to obtain certification within a certain timeframe after being hired in the position.
Many agencies and states offer voluntary certification programs to help emergency management directors obtain additional skills. Some employers may prefer or even require a Certified Emergency Manager (CEM), Certified Business Continuity Professional (CBCP), or equivalent designation. Emergency management directors can attain the CEM designation through the International Association of Emergency Managers (IAEM); the CBCP designation is given by the Disaster Recovery Institute International (DRI).
Certification must be renewed after a specified number of years. Both organizations require candidates to complete certain continuing education courses prior to recertification.