Colorado Builds a New Generation of Emergency Managers

Although a distant memory for many, high school is now a new “place to start” acquiring the knowledge and skills required of emergency managers. More specifically, the 2012-2013 school year at Warren Tech North in Arvada, Colorado, marks the first year that instruction in Emergency Management will be offered to students in the Jefferson County Public School District.

This new program has been developed as a hybrid course – with much of the course work taking place online by using the Federal Emergency Management Agency/Emergency Management Institute (FEMA/EMI) Independent Study program. In addition to the online course, students also will: (a) be engaged in hands-on activities in the room; (b) participate in a broad spectrum of exercises with local, state, and federal agencies; and (c) complete 100 hours of internships with various course partners.

The two-semester course has been designed specifically to provide participating students with multi-discipline exposure to all aspects of emergency management. This approach is intended to give the students a better overall “feel” for Emergency Management in general, which helps them focus their time in college on a specific area of interest within the field of Emergency Management. Among the specific subjects that will be covered are such interrelated topics as: Incident Command; Military Support; Resource Management; Information Management; Critical Infrastructure and Key Resources; Continuity of Operations; and Natural and Man-Made Disasters.

Supporting the Next Generation of Professionals 

To support the next generation of Emergency Managers, course organizers have partnered with various operational groups and agencies, including: the State of Colorado Office of Emergency Management; Jefferson County Emergency Management; the JeffCo Type III Incident Management Team; Centura Health St. Anthony Central Hospital; and The Blue Cell. A significant part of the learning will be carried out through these partner organizations, which will provide hands-on application of the knowledge gained and skills learned in the room to prepare the students for college and beyond. The overall field of Emergency Management – federal, state, and local – also will benefit from these partnerships by ensuring that graduates not only have the “book education” they need, but also some real-life experience before, during, and after college.

To further enhance the program, the Colorado Office of Emergency Management (OEM) is allowing high school students to be stationed in the State Emergency Operations Center (EOC) during select exercises, working side by side with OEM staff. Students also will work on individual EOC Task Books and, in February, will be assigned to apprentice-level supporting roles during the State Emergency Managers Conference.

In addition to gaining the knowledge and skills they will need in the Emergency Management field, students have the opportunity to take advantage of something else – “free money,” in effect – by receiving college credits for their training. Students at Warren Tech and Warren Tech North are concurrently enrolled in the Red Rocks Community College and will receive college credit with completion of the high school course. For the Emergency Management course, students will be able to earn as much as 15 college credits by achieving a “C” or higher grade at Warren Tech North. Because there is no cost to the students to receive this credit, in effect, Warren Tech students collectively received the equivalent of more than eight hundred thousand dollars in college credits through their concurrent enrollments last year.

These es and internships also serve as extended job interviews. Many students now have the possibility of graduating from high school with excellent recommendations from some of the top professionals in their chosen field of work. Not incidentally, the Emergency Management students will be actively engaged in social media throughout the school year and, in that respect, will gain additional skills that some current professionals lack. (As the students progress, follow them on Twitter @WarrenTechEM.)

Christopher Mailliard

Christopher Mailliard, a teacher in Colorado’s Jefferson County Public Schools, is in his third year of teaching after leaving the public safety career field. He has more than 15 years of experience as a firefighter/paramedic and as a tactical paramedic. He also has served as an Emergency Planning Analyst in both the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.



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