The Office of Emergency Management (OEM) oversees the preparedness planning and response operations concerning natural and manmade disasters. The OEM operates a centralized Emergency Operations Center (EOC) that provides command decisions, resources and public information to the EM personnel, public officials and citizens of Anchorage Borough. In the case of a catastrophic disaster, the EOC can serve as the seat of government. Should the primary EOC become damaged, secondary centers may be utilized in fire stations or emergency facilities.
As directed by the National Incident Management System, the borough has established a command structure in the case of a major disaster. Different agencies are tasked with responding to specific situations. Police are responsible for curbing civil disturbances, limiting looting and criminal activity and explosive device neutralization. Fire personnel are charged with victim rescue, mass casualties, structural collapse and fire or hazardous material release. Health and human services are tasked with disease outbreaks, water or food contamination.
Disasters in Anchorage Borough, Alaska
In 1964, Anchorage was the epicenter of the most powerful earthquake in U.S. history and the second most powerful ever recorded. This earthquake measured 9.2 on the Richter scale and lasted three minutes. The earthquake caused a massive landslide that destroyed 75 houses within the city of Anchorage. Only nine people were killed from the earthquake, but an additional 106 Alaskans were killed from the resulting tsunami.
How to Become an Emergency Management Specialist in Anchorage
As the most tectonically active region in the U.S., Alaska has a robust emergency management profession that serves public and private organizations. The Military and Veterans Affairs Department recently posted a job opening for an Emergency Management Specialist, which offered an annual salary of $48,084 and required applicants to possess the following qualifications:
- A bachelor’s degree and one year of experience in planning exercises, evaluating training and coordinating recovery from civil or environmental disturbances; or
- Two years of emergency management experience; or
- One year of professional experience as a State of Alaska Emergency Management Specialist I
- Possession of a valid Alaska driver’s license
- Ability to obtain federal security clearance
- Willingness to be on call 24 hours a day
- Willingness to travel in small aircraft and boats
- Willingness to perform job functions in a potentially hazardous environment
The State of Alaska offers training for emergency management specialists through the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. Many of these courses have been modeled on emergency management classes provided by the federal government and include:
- National Incident Management System
- All-hazards Incident Commander
- All-hazards planning chief
- An introduction to the National Response Framework
- National Infrastructure Protection Plan
- Emergency planning
- Leadership and influence
- Effective communication
- Introduction to hazardous materials.
- Role of voluntary agencies in emergency management
The Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management also periodically conducts training exercises modeled on federal incident templates which help familiarize state and local personnel with emergency responses.