The most recent issue of Domestic Preparedness Journal includes an article by Chas Eby titled Emergency Management – A Misnomer. In his article, Mr. Eby posits that the title of emergency manager does not adequately describe the discipline or represent the skill sets of practitioners. While I agree with many of the points Mr. Eby makes, particularly in regard to the huge variety of knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) leveraged by most emergency managers which are largely taken for granted, I disagree wholeheartedly that the term or title of emergency manager is limiting, as his conclusion states.
Functionally, we absolutely see emergency managers, at various levels, conducting a variety of activities. They may be support staff or executives, decision makers or operators. They may specialize in any single or multiple facets of the profession. They must have an ability to coordinate and collaborate, work with grants and budgets, and handle daily administrative matters as well as emergency conditions. They may specialize in one or more specific applications, such as hazard mitigation, disaster recovery, operations, or preparedness (to include planning, training, or exercises).
Does the title of Chef fully define all the duties of managing a restaurant kitchen including staff, developing a menu, ordering food, establishing processes and systems, and maintaining quality control? No… because titles that are sentences long are impractical. People within the profession, and some outside the profession, should be aware of what these titles mean and the KSAs and responsibilities that go along with them.
Sometimes I feel that those fighting for emergency management to become a more ‘established’ profession do more harm than good. My point is, many skill sets don’t define a profession. A vast array of professions require the ability to use a copy machine and make critical decisions all in the same breath. It’s the context in which we apply those skill sets that makes the difference. Yes, I agree that the skill sets of many emergency managers are taken for granted – but often by emergency managers themselves.
© 2017 – Timothy Riecker, CEDP