Fairbanks North Star Borough, Alaska has empowered the local Emergency Operations department to supervise all natural or manmade disaster preparedness and recovery operations. Alaska is often a target of major natural events due to a very active tectonic location. Almost half of the earthquakes recorded in the U.S. take place in Alaska.
Fairbanks has been the site of major disasters other than earthquakes. In 1967, torrential rains caused the nearby Chena and Little Chena rivers to rise six feet about flood levels. More than 7,000 residents were displaced from their homes. The local university served as a shelter but was only intended to house up to 1,000 students. Four residents were killed and hundreds of millions of dollars of damage resulted. In response the U.S. Congress funded the Chena River Lakes Flood Control Project which built dikes that would divert flood waters.
In 2008, the Salcha River and Tanana River recorded their second highest levels. This caused widespread flooding in Fairbanks and several towns in the borough. The floods damaged more than 500 homes and 1,000 residents were affected by the disaster. The more than $10 million in damage was eventually mitigated through state and federal disaster funds.
Emergency Medical Services
The Emergency Operations department coordinates a variety of first responder services including emergency medical services (EMS). Since 1983, EMS has been provided by several independent contracting organizations including Interior Ambulance Rescue Squad. The fire departments of various municipalities also provide some emergency medical services.
Requirements for Emergency Management Specialists in Fairbanks North Star Borough, Alaska
Fairbanks North Star Borough is home to several major corporations including SMG World, which often require emergency management specialists to assist in disaster preparedness and business continuity planning. In a recent post for an Operations Manager, SMG World requested applicants possess the following qualifications:
- Hold a bachelor’s degree in maintenance engineering or management
- Possess knowledge of tools, equipment and materials for event production
- Knowledge of ice maintenance is preferred
- Knowledge of Excel, Office and maintenance manager software
- Willingness to work on weekends, holidays and nights
- Familiarity with risk management policies, emergency procedures and preventative maintenance schedules
- Knowledge of laws, codes, policies regarding safety and risk management
Training for emergency management personnel in Fairbanks North Star Borough is primarily received through the employer or local training organizations. Training for EMS personnel is provided through the Interior Region Emergency Medical Services Council (IREMSC), which is a regional sanctioning body. IREMSC provides course materials, trainers and classroom facilities to new EMS professionals. A variety of EM professions follow similar training models.
For emergency managers and coordinators who wish to develop comprehensive skills in emergency planning and operations direction, there are some courses available through the Alaska Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. These include:
- Emergency manager
- Exercise evaluation and improvement
- Anticipating hazardous weather and community risk
- State disaster management