Hello, Suburbs: Emergency Management Not Just for the Cities Anymore

With terrorism fresh on the minds of Americans and 2012’s record-setting natural disasters, many suburbs are considering the advantages of having a comprehensive emergency management program in place. For example, the heat wave and subsequent flooding in the Midwest has left millions of people reeling from flood damage and looking for help from community officials and private companies. In other words, as the potential for disasters and emergencies increase, the demand for emergency management services also increases.

In particular, the number of emergency management jobs in both the public and private sectors is on the rise, with many areas of the country seeing a rise in jobs in private companies, such as disaster response consulting services, as well as in local government and in healthcare facilities.

The United States Department of Labor Statistics estimates that the number of emergency disaster jobs in expected to increase by 23 percent in the next 20 years, thereby highlighting the growing need for emergency management services at every level.

A sign of this increase is the number of local community colleges and technical schools offering programs geared toward emergency management.

In addition to local governments considering their emergency management needs and beefing up their programs and operations as a result, locally owned, private companies, from suburban retirement companies to utility companies, are also responding, concentrating on their emergency response teams and plans.

In the Chicagoland area, for example, one of the local community colleges has introduced a two-year associate in applied science degree in emergency management, with coursework ranging from incident management to the ideologies of terrorism. The College of DuPage opened a Homeland Security Education Center in 2012, which hosted more than 7,000 students last year alone in its incident response training classes.

Chicago provides a clear snapshot of the direction of emergency management in the United States and of the growing need for trained and educated emergency management professionals, both now and well into the future.