The employment opportunities for emergency management professionals in Pulaski County, Arkansas are quite numerous. Pulaski County is susceptible to a wide range of natural disasters including tornadoes, earthquakes and floods. The residents of this county have experienced 15 earthquakes with magnitudes greater than 3.5 since 1969. Pulaski County has also had 202 tornado events strike the county in the past half century. These and other disasters have convinced many public and private organizations to hire and train emergency management professionals who can implement continuity planning and response strategies.
In addition to natural disasters, Pulaski County has also been the site of one of the greatest manmade disasters in the country. The Vertac site in Jacksonville was one of the most notorious hazardous materials locations in U.S. history. Originally an ordnance factory, Vertac was acquired by a pesticide company which manufactured the now-banned pesticide DDT. After an investigation in 1979, EPA officials discovered numerous barrels of the neurotoxin dioxins. Dioxins are known to cause cancer, birth defects and nervous system disorders. The investigation revealed that the leaking barrels had poisoned local water supply. The EPA initiated a $150 million Superfund cleanup that took more than seven years.
Pulaski County Office of Emergency Management
The Pulaski County Office of Emergency Management (PCOEM) is responsible for preparing first responders and other EM professionals as well as preparing for disasters. One of the most important components of PCOEM is the Hazardous Materials Response Team. This unit is composed of 45 members, which includes 29 Technician certified and 16 Operations certified professionals. Members are volunteers from local hospitals, fire departments and other EM agencies.
Training and Qualifications for Emergency Management Specialists in Pulaski County, Arkansas
Many of the companies in Pulaski County hire emergency management professionals to strengthen disaster preparedness. One of these, Center for Toxicology and Environmental Health, recently posted a vacancy with the following requirements:
- Bachelor’s degree in computer science
- Between two and five years of professional experience as a GIS analyst
- Well-developed skills in computer and data management on Windows platforms
- Competencies in application operations on Windows platforms
- Ability to analyze and solve problems
- Strong written and verbal communication skills
- Ability to analyze Environmental Sampling processes
- Willingness to work in hazardous environments
PCOEM offers a variety of training programs including Hazmat and Fire. The three tiers of hazmat training are
- Hazmat awareness—must complete eight hours of courses
- Hazmat operations—must complete 16 hours of courses
- Hazmat technician—must complete 80 hours of courses
Fire service training includes introduction to fire service, wildland, and emergency vehicle operations.
The Arkansas Department of Emergency Management (ADEM) also provides emergency management courses for professionals and coordinators. ADEM sponsors a number of certification programs that are designed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. These include the Professional Development Series and the Advanced Professional Series.