While entering the public service field is something that many consider – thanks in large part to its ability to provide great pay with plenty of personal rewards – there are some areas of the field that are more unique than others. Becoming an emergency response specialist, for example, allows you to have an impact on the overall safety of the population without working in a one on one clinical setting. Instead, you work behind the scenes and still have a big impact on the overall safety of those around you.
But the job isn’t for everyone. It has unique challenges and requirements that mean that some may thrive in a position while others flounder. If you’re curious, keep reading to find out more about what being an emergency response specialist involves.
What Is an Emergency Response Specialist?
An emergency response specialist focuses their skills on making sure that their community is ready when an emergency arises. It’s one of the fastest growing professions in the emergency management field, and requires those in the position to handle a wide range of different tasks with the ultimate goal of helping make certain that when emergencies occur that the loss of life is at a minimum.
Job duties include the following:
- Assessing current programs and policies to determine areas that need to be improved within disaster or emergency response
- Plan good disaster response strategies
- Train emergency personnel in the proper ways to respond to emergency
- Coordinate efforts between different agencies
- Communicate with local, state, and federal experts to ensure that maximum emergency preparedness is in place
- Study plans in other areas to determine effectiveness and what aspects can be used in their own community
- Attend conferences and workshops focusing on emergency management
- Review plans put in place by various organizations in the area to ensure they are able to handle emergencies as they arise
In general, the job involves monitoring, assessing, and reviewing everything related to emergency response – from local facilities to the emergency workers to potential shelter locations and beyond.
Some personal characteristics will have a big impact on your ability to do the job properly. Having strength in the following areas will help.
- Perform well Under Stress – While the average day isn’t likely to be that stressful, when an emergency does arise you’ll need to be able to use your skills to function well under stress.
- Confidence – Your decisions will have a major impact on the way a community responds to a disaster or to an emergency. As such, you need to have confidence in your skills and abilities.
- Communication – You’ll have to communicate with others on a daily basis in this job. Good written and verbal communication skills will be instrumental in your success.
Nature of the Work
The job is primarily office- based, and you’ll spend the majority of your time working in an office behind a desk. Daily routines include reviewing current plans and strategies, developing new ones, and monitoring the overall progress of what has been put in place. However, you may also work outside the office by visiting local emergency facilities, attending meetings, and even going to conferences.
In most cases, an emergency response specialist will work in the public sector for government branches. There are some instances where private businesses may need the help of one of these experts, but it is rare.
Education and Training
The specific hiring requirements will vary from employer to employer. Usually, at least a bachelor’s degree in an associated field will be required, usually in areas like emergency management, public safety, urban planning, or public administration. Completion of training programs in areas like hazardous materials, search and rescue, and emergency management will also help you find employment. FEMA operates the Emergency Management Institute, which provides training in these areas.
Additionally, those looking to enter the field will usually want to be certified in emergency management, and extra certifications will only help to enhance your odds of being hired.
The job outlook for these professionals is strong, with job growth of around 12 percent expected over the next decade. Average salaries are about $53,000 annually, but the top earners in the field make more than $90,000. Pay will depend on experience, location in the country, and employer, among other things.