Disaster planning and emergency management are receiving more attention as the nation recovers from a record-breaking year of natural disasters, including Hurricane Sandy, the drought in the West, and flooding in the Midwest. The natural disasters of 2012, which resulted in more than $110 billion in damages, have brought to the light the importance of both the public and private sector to provide services for preparing for, responding to, and recovering from both natural and manmade disasters.
The increased interest in this field and the countless individuals flocking to careers in emergency management are best seen in the increase in members in industry associations like the International Association of Emergency Managers (IAEM), which boasts more than 3,000 members across the globe—90 percent of those members living in the United States.
The IAEM, a nonprofit, educational organization for emergency management professionals, has members in all areas of emergency management, including first responders in the local government and private industry companies involved in planning for and mitigating disasters.
Members of IAEM are afforded representation on legislative and regulatory matters at the federal level, and many members enjoy the benefits of communicating and exchanging resource information with one another. The IAEM annual meeting draws about 2,000 people, with many members coming to look at the newest emergency management and homeland security products.
The IAEM also offers a certification for both members and non-members, which was designed to raise and maintain professional standards in the field of emergency management.
An IAEM spokesperson notes that, just ten years ago there were only a handful of college programs aimed at emergency management; now there are more than 100 institutions offering a variety of programs in this field.
An increased awareness of the advantages of comprehensive emergency management programs and services will continue to drive the need for highly qualified and trained professionals through all levels of government and in both the public and private sectors.