Can disasters be averted? That’s a hard question, but because there is the field of Emergency Management, the answer is a little closer to being a straight up “yes” than what you might think. Emergency Management professionals are proactive as opposed to reactionary–even though we see them jump into action when a disaster occurs. These superheroes-without-capes are the ones that respond when both human-made and natural disasters strike, but the planning and preparation that they put in behind the scenes before the disaster occurs is where they really shine. How do these professionals know what to do in situations that would propel most of us to run the other way as fast as we can? Chances are, they have studied and trained through an advanced degree program in Emergency Management, Security Management, Disaster Preparedness, or other such gradate-level degree program. And because this type of degree is one of the most popular online master’s degree programs that individuals are currently pursuing, the range of choices in programs is really rich with possibilities. But what do these programs present in terms of curriculum, and how can it help train individuals to become emergency management professionals? Read on to learn some of the courses taught and the program objectives that shape the emergency management worker.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is a federal agency within the United States Department of Homeland Security. FEMA states that there are four phases of disaster management: Mitigation, Preparedness, Response, and Recovery. At any point in time, a community (from a small town to an entire nation or something on a global level) is in one of these phases. The Emergency Management professional makes plans that encompass all of the phases’ active points. Mitigation, for instance, could be viewed as the research stage that emphasizes assessing and determining measures that could reduce the chances of a hazard happening, or a least minimizing the damage if the disaster is one that cannot be avoided. Coursework that address the Mitigation phase include classes such as “Global Perspectives,” “Domestic Terrorism and Extremist Groups,” and “Risk Perception Awareness,” because it helps to be aware of and understand cultures and situations that could lead to conflict and produce planned violence. Elements of change that would help mitigate the potential disaster would be born out of awareness and understanding, which would lead into the Preparedness phase. The Response phase demands an emergency plan of action that has been rehearsed before an actual disaster strikes. Professionals respond before, during and right after the emergency has occurred. Recovery happens after the disaster has ceased, and the goal is to restore the community back to normal and focuses on the decision making after the immediate needs have been met. The Recovery phase then flows back into the Mitigation phase, and thus the cycle is continuous and connected.
For the special individuals who want to mitigate, prepare, respond, and recover in the wake of disaster, an Emergency Management degree will impart the skills and knowledge that is needed. If this seems like your line of work, check out this list of the 50 Best Online Master of Emergency Management Degree Programs to find a school that fits your goals.