5 Reasons to Choose Emergency Management as a Career

Working in emergency management and planning is not something that appeals to everyone. In fact, it’s a career choice that sometimes creeps up on you when you’re busy making other plans. Perhaps you are already a paramedic and are looking for symbiotic career progression that has some connection to what you do now and how you help people already?

Also, if your natural inclination when seeing humans suffering or a natural disaster unfolding is to want to leap in to help, then that’s a clear sign that emergency management might be a career avenue worth pursuing.

Accordingly, here are 5 reasons to work in emergency management.

1. You’re an Excellent Planner

Emergency management and emergency response is all about proper planning to know what the different teams need to be doing depending on the crisis. It’s only by having excellent planning skills and well-considered plans for multiple scenarios that the relevant personnel will know what’s expected of them when the time comes.

Being able to create emergency plans that work in a crisis is key. It’s at that crucial time when there’s a suspected terror attack or an earthquake with a high magnitude that theoretical plans become high-pressure reality where the relevant people must spring into action.

To learn how do this, studying for an emergency management diploma provides the tools to learn how to think, act and be someone who’s capable of dealing with large-scale emergency situations. Knowing how to plan correctly and execute under any conditions ensures the best outcomes for survivors.

2. Good Under Extreme Pressure

When there’s a town that’s just been flooded because a river bank has overflowed due to rising sea levels from global warming, it’s up to emergency teams to respond quickly and decisively. There’s no time to delay, debate and consider. Getting on-site ASAP with the right equipment and teams that already have the necessary training to handle extreme flooding situations is where the rubber meets the road.

Thriving; Not Crumbling Under Pressure

Looking like a deer in the headlights won’t cut it. Panic only freezes a person into inaction which often is exactly the opposite of what’s necessary in that moment. Therefore, part of the job means that you will be great under pressure – you will even thrive on it and let it push you to work harder – rather than cower away from it. This applies equally whether you’re a leading planning, a coordinator or a first responder on the scene.

Leading and Coordinating; Not Fumbling and Becoming Unraveled

Running towards the survivors to see how you can help them or spurring teams under your command into direct action is what’s needed. And even if the fear rises in your throat, you must control it, push it down and resolve to get through, because survivors are depending on your coordinated efforts to reach them and first responders need the right guidance and leadership to do just that.

3. Strong Ability to Improvise & Troubleshoot as Necessary

In war, soldiers say that any great plan never survives contact with the enemy. Or to put it another way, the former boxer Mike Tyson once commented that his opponents in the ring all had a plan until they got hit in the face.

Well… when you think about it, natural disasters and manmade acts of destruction can feel a lot like that. They are violent. They are unexpected. They are inherently unpredictable! Because of this, people who work in emergency management need to deal with the unexpected, e.g. that violent storm that blows whole roofs off of buildings or bridges that get destroyed overnight. Then they need to come up with a workable solution.

Being able to think on your feet, to change an existing plan, or adapt it to a disaster scenario that differed to what was anticipated by your team is all part of what’s expected. It’s no good to exclaim, “That’s not what we planned for!” and throwing your hands up in the air! It’s time to roll up your sleeves and come up with a Plan B, C and sometimes D!

Troubleshooting problems on the fly must be embraced because nothing in emergency situations will go perfectly as planned. Life’s just not as predictable as we like to think it is.

4. Ensure Emergency Planning is the Best It Can Be

If you’ve ever been somewhat disappointed about the state or federal response to a disaster and wished it had been better, then the best way to change it is to work from the inside.

It’s likely near impossible to change it from the outside other than through legislation and even then, what really makes the difference are some of the following:

• Advanced planning for multiple types of disasters and scenarios
• Effective procedures
• Enough qualified emergency personnel in the area
• Interagency cooperation when it’s needed to get help to affected areas in a fast, coordinated manner
• The right equipment, properly maintained with staff who know how to make best use of it

By getting involved in the planning stages, carefully considering many possible scenarios and running training exercises to test actual preparedness for an emergency, getting it right is more likely than not.

5. A Rewarding Career in More Ways Than One

When you want a job and long-term career where you absolutely know that you’ll be helping other people in their worst life circumstance, then it’s difficult to think of another job that puts you squarely in that position.

While the planning stage may feel redundant if a disaster doesn’t match the plan, the planning itself is critical. This is because it clarifies ideas and maps out possible scenarios. That makes it easier to improvise later should something else happen where earlier ideas can be adapted to fit the need at that time.

In terms of renumeration, salaries range from the $40,000s to over six-figures depending on what role is undertaken within emergency management. Clearly, an Emergency Management Director is going to make a larger salary than an Emergency Response Coordinator. So, there’s still a need to think about career progression for this career to be financially rewarding as well as personally so.

Working in emergency management isn’t for everyone. It’s only for the intrepid, the undaunted, the courageous, and the type of person who thrives under pressure. If that’s you, then you’ve now possibly discovered the perfect career choice.

— Featured photo by Flickr user minbuck, Creative Commons