The Pima County Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security (PCOEMHS) is the agency responsible for preparing emergency management personnel and the general public for environmental or manmade disasters. If a major incident does strike Pima County, PCOEMHS is tasked with activating county response plans and coordinating resources to mitigate the effects. PCOEMHS is also in charge of collecting and analyzing intelligence about the incident, and distributing raw data and recommendations to appropriate local, state and federal agencies. Following the event, this agency is responsible for allocating recovery funds and personnel to accelerate the reconstruction of damaged communities.
Training and Requirements for Emergency Management Professionals in Pima County, Arizona
Pima County’s major urban center, Tucson, is a hub for numerous colleges and universities which require emergency management specialists to prepare their institutions for natural or criminal events. The University of Arizona recently posted a job vacancy for an Associate Director of Programs, which offered a salary of $62,000 and had the following requirements:
- Master’s degree in recreation administration, sports management, or higher education
- At least six years of professional administrative experience
- At least five years of personnel supervision
- Outstanding communication and interpersonal skills
- Certifications in CPR, AED, first aid and blood borne pathogens
- Possession of a valid Arizona driver’s license
PCOEMHS provides a number of courses and training programs for emergency management professionals in the county. These courses are sponsored by the Federal Emergency Management Institute and include:
- Continuity programs
- Integrated preparedness
- Disaster logistics
- Incident management
There are also a number of certification programs offered by prestigious industry associations. Among the most reputable of these is the International Association of Emergency Managers, which offers training courses with certification exams for Certified Emergency Manager (CEM) and Associate Emergency Manager (AEM).
Disasters in Pima County
Tucson and Pima County enjoy one of the safest environments in the country. According to a 2008 study by SustainLane, Tucson is ranked third among major metropolitan areas for safety from natural disasters. Although there is always the persistent threat of extreme heat for this arid area, the only natural disasters to cause significant property damage or fatalities were two tornado occurrences in 1964 and 1994. While the first caused the death of two residents and injuries to nine others, it produced only about $25,000 in damage. The second caused no injuries but did result in more than $500,000 in damages.
One of the most horrific shootings in recent years occurred in Tucson. On January 8, 2011, Jared Lee Loughner opened fire in a crowded speaking event held by U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords. Giffords and 18 others were shot, with eight people killed as a result of their wounds. The fatalities included Judge John Roll, and eight year old Christina-Taylor Green. Congresswoman Giffords was shot in the head resulting in traumatic brain injury from which she is still recovering.