How 9/11 Changed Emergency and Property Management

Emergency management is a growing field, one whose evolution is at a unique crossroad. We can roughly divide the history of the emergency management industry into two eras: pre-September 11th and post-September 11th.  In the pre-9/11 era, emergency management was largely centered on natural disaster mitigation and recovery. Accordingly, training was based on experience and mentorship.

However, the tragic events of 9/11 fundamentally changed the culture of emergency management. The paradigm shift now called for a unified response, which in turn required an academic approach to the profession of disaster management.

September 11th was the catalyst to redefine an entire industry thought process. In response to the worst attack on American soil since Pearl Harbor, emergency management began to develop higher education degrees, certifications, standards and associations that championed collaboration among different disciplines.

Not surprisingly, there are a lot more emergency managers in the days since 9/11 than there were before. The profession is in-demand, with more jobs being created, and more specifically, more jobs requiring (or preferring) degrees and certifications more degree programs, more CEM designations. What’s more, emergency managers must now be proficient in property management, understanding the robust qualities of total asset visibility, and maximizing on fixed and mobile asset inventories to encourage resource sharing across agency jursidictions.

The traditional feeder sources for emergency managers – the military, fire and law enforcement professionals – are no longer ideally suited for these new compentencies.  Since 9/11, more than 150 colleges and universities have begun offering degrees in emergency management and homeland security. A decade before September 11th there was only one B.A. program for emergency management in the nation.

This educational machine is producing a new crop of professionals, young college graduates and other mid-career professionals who are pursuing higher-level degrees in emergency management. They have a broad background in emergency management and the enthusiasm and idealism that comes with youth.

The field of disaster study has grown exponentially demanding that emergency managers rise to a more professional level, broaden their horizons and get more education and training in areas they might not have considered before.

September 11th initiated a culture-changing response to planning for disasters of all types.  The ensuing fallout has elevated the status of the emergency management profession in need of serious academia. However, the traditional old guard is steadfast in the belief that field-experience trumps classroom in any situation.

As such, April’s blog-theme will be about the changing nature of emergency management and the role formal academic study plays in disaster mitigation.

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