Mastering the Must-Have Skills: A Look at the Top Competencies for Today’s EM Professionals emergency management network podcast

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Last week I was out of pocket with a few events, so if you missed the podcast, it was me, not you. I was at the IAEM Region 9 Symposium. The team that put on the event did an excellent job. And Yes, I am currently the President of the Region. However, the conference committee needs to have the credit for this event. It was fantastic to see some outstanding speakers, and I got to meet some great emergency managers. I recommend attending small local events. Being in that intimate setting, interacting with professionals you may work with, and social networking is second to none.

I had a deep conversation with a few attendees about emergency management’s current issues. The setting was perfect for exploring the concepts and having some introspection on how the field is changing and developing. 

Emergency management is constantly evolving as disasters become more frequent and complex. In recent years, emergency management has faced several significant challenges that have forced the field to adapt and grow in new ways.

The increasing demand for resources and funding is a significant issue facing the profession today. With the rising costs of disasters, emergency managers are constantly pressured to find new ways to fund their operations and ensure they have the resources to respond effectively to emergencies. The solution to budget restraints requires creative funding solutions, effective advocacy, and strategic planning to ensure that emergency management remains sustainable over the long term.

In addition, emergency management is also facing new challenges in technology and innovation. With the rapid pace of technological change, emergency managers must constantly stay abreast of new developments and trends to remain effective. We are looking at everything from new communication technologies and data management tools to advanced mapping and modeling software to help emergency managers make more informed decisions about resource allocation and response strategies.

Emergency management is constantly evolving and adapting to new challenges and demands. By staying engaged with the latest developments in the field, emergency managers must ensure that they are prepared to meet the needs of their communities and respond effectively to any emergency or disaster that may arise.

All of this is true; however, these are not even the pressing issues we must address. It is more profound than the everyday nuts and bolts of the job, and the topic may appear esoteric. 

The question that may have the most significant impact on the profession comes from the present challenges that create an environment that fosters ethical uncertainty and predicaments, resulting in tension, distress, and severe societal consequences. One may think this sounds hyperbolic; however, it truly is not. 

The complexities of hazards and risks associated with the vulnerabilities of communities are escalating. The need for emergency managers to deeply understand disaster policy, economics and the political process is just as critical, if not more important, than the old way of doing things. Today emergency management is more than just the four phases and five pillars taught in IS courses or the tactical skills that can be instilled with on-the-job training. We are looking at future emergency management, including AI, ML, AR, gamification of the workspace, deep thinking, and spacial, systematic decision-making. 

Disasters may be local; however, they are experienced globally through policies, decisions, plans, and responses that affect people’s daily lives. Although ethical decision-making has always been vital in emergency management (EM), its policies and guidance have yet to be adequately acknowledged. As the field aims to attain professional recognition, it needs a code of ethics and conduct. The exploration of the components of an ethical code of conduct for EM has raised inquiries about distinctions or similarities between the required elements.

Dr. Carol Cwick and her working group have made a significant contribution to the field of emergency management by developing the emergency management code of ethics. This code provides a set of ethical principles and guidelines for emergency management professionals and helps to promote ethical decision-making and behavior in the field.

The emergency management code of ethics was developed through a rigorous process of consultation and collaboration with stakeholders from across the field of emergency management. This process ensured that the code reflects emergency management professionals’ diverse perspectives and experiences and provides a practical and relevant framework for practitioners’ challenges and issues.

However, the emergency management code of ethics is just one piece of a larger puzzle. To ensure that emergency management professionals are equipped to meet the needs of their communities, it is also essential to focus on improving the core competencies of the field.

The development of core competencies is essential for any profession. These competencies are the essential skills, knowledge, and abilities required for a professional to perform their job effectively. They are a benchmark for the knowledge and skills professionals should possess and are essential for setting industry standards, ensuring quality service, and creating a solid professional identity.

One reason a profession needs core competencies is to clarify what professionals expect. Competencies define the knowledge and skills required to perform a job and enable professionals to understand their roles and responsibilities comprehensively. They also provide a framework for employers and educators to develop job descriptions, training programs, and performance evaluations.

Core competencies also ensure that the professional workforce remains up-to-date with advancements and changes in the industry. As technology and the demands of the workforce evolve, so must the skills and knowledge of professionals. Core competencies provide a foundation for ongoing education and training, ensuring that professionals stay current and relevant.

Furthermore, core competencies create a common language and understanding among professionals within a specific industry. It enables professionals to communicate and collaborate effectively and efficiently. Standardized competencies also assist in cross-training and job shadowing, allowing the professionals to gain skills and knowledge in areas beyond their specialization.

Another significant benefit of having core competencies is the ability to establish accreditation and certification processes. Competencies serve as a standard of excellence and provide a framework for evaluating the skills and knowledge of professionals. Accreditation and certification processes can verify that professionals meet these standards and are competent in their field, enhancing their credibility and marketability.

Core competencies are crucial for the profession of emergency management. They clarify job expectations, ensure that professionals remain current and relevant in their field, establish a common language and understanding, and enable the development of accreditation and certification processes. By developing and adhering to core competencies, EM professionals can enhance their skills, knowledge, and abilities, promoting the growth and development of our profession.

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