When emergencies occur, including natural and manmade disasters, communities and citizens look to their local, regional and national emergency managers for help. These professionals work in a wide variety of settings and conduct many types of activities to prepare for, prevent and respond to all kinds of emergency situations. If you are considering this type of career, you must have three specific qualities to be successful in this high-pressure position.
Emergency managers are employed by government agencies on all scales – from local city management teams to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, some of the main responsibilities of this position include coordinating all crisis management and disaster response activities and providing disaster preparedness training to key personnel and volunteers. For example, these types of managers must create emergency plans for potential threats, such as earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, power plant emergencies and terrorist attacks.
One of the most essential qualities an emergency manager must have is professionalism. According to Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) training, professionalism is imperative because emergency managers must work with a wide variety of people to coordinate, organize and get things done in a crisis situation. They must treat other people fairly and kindly, and find the balance between cordiality and a sense of urgency. Emergency managers must also be able to have empathy but follow the rules and federal guidelines regarding emergency assistance.
Emergency managers must have great communication and organizational skills. They must be great listeners to quickly understand all the facts pertaining to an emergency situation, and they must be able to efficiently communicate and delegate tasks to subordinates and community leaders. This may also entail using a wide variety of communication mediums appropriately and effectively. These types of leaders must perform well in high-stress situations, and remain calm at all times. This is not an ideal position for someone who loses his temper quickly.
Emergency Management Activities
Along with the essential professional and personal qualities, the emergency manager must understand and be proficient at the actual management activities. For example, he must plan and coordinate the emergency procedures with local contacts, such as the police and fire department. He must also know the process of contacting state or national officials for more help if necessary. Other types of emergency management activities include working with weather bureaus, transportation authorities and criminal law agencies.