Jefferson County, Alabama has been the target for numerous disasters in the past. In 2011, a severe storm spawned almost 62 tornadoes across the state with six of these striking Jefferson County. There were almost 700 homes destroyed in the towns of Concord, North Smithfield Manor and McDonald Chapel. Seven people lost their lives to these storms.
The lead emergency management agency in this county is the Jefferson County Emergency Management Agency (JCEMA). JCEMA has worked with state and federal organizations to help these communities recover from the devastating 2011 tornadoes, as well as develop plans for disaster preparedness, response and recovery in these communities.
The affected communities are small and have few resources to respond to such devastation. In order to assist the victims, the JCEMA has implemented two initiatives. The first is the formation of a charitable nonprofit organization that would attempt to solicit donations on behalf of these communities and victims. The second is the creation of a formal neighborhood association that would strengthen community bonds and allow the community to access recovery funds from state and federal agencies.
Recovery Action Team
In addition to responding to past disasters JCEMA has formulated a variety of programs to prepare communities for emergencies. This includes the Recovery Action Team, which oversees the reconstruction and recovery process. This unit will also interact with the EMA coordinator and other stakeholders. The Recovery Action Team also develops policies for redeveloping sites where multiple disasters have occurred and mitigation strategies to limit future vulnerability.
Training and Requirements to Become an Emergency Management Professional in Jefferson County, Alabama
One of the most important organizations following a disaster is the American Red Cross, which coordinates an army of volunteers to offer food, shelter and support. In a recent job posting, this organization sought applicants for its Regional Chapter Executive with the following qualifications:
- Possession of a bachelor’s degree in communications, public relations, business, finance, marketing or non-profit administration and a master’s degree is preferred
- At least five years of experience in sales, business or corporate administration
- Demonstrated proficiency in raising financial resources
- At least three years of experience in program and workforce management
- Ability to work with diverse stakeholders and build consensus
- Critical thinking and problem solving
- Superior written, verbal and public speaking skills
Training for this and other emergency management careers may be obtained through the Alabama Emergency Management Agency and federal agencies like the Emergency Management Institute. These agencies offer a wide variety of emergency management courses including:
- Incident management
- Public disaster communications
- Integrated preparedness
- Service to disaster victims
- Disaster logistics
- Operational planning
- Continuity planning
- Hazard mitigation
Alabama also offers a number of certification programs for several EM professions. The Certified Local Emergency Manager Process certifies EM coordinators with the following qualifications:
- Two years of college education
- Three years of emergency response or management experience
- Two hundred hours of courses in emergency management