Emergency Management Careers in Los Angeles County, California

Within LA County, the Los Angeles County Office of Emergency Management (LAC OEM) supervises many of the disaster preparedness and response programs.  These responsibilities are often shared with the municipal government of Los Angeles.  The Los Angeles Emergency Management Department, in cooperation with various agencies like the Department of Public Health, oversees many of the emergency management duties in the city.  These agencies have prepared strategies to respond to pandemics, earthquakes, terrorism and civil unrest.

Los Angeles County is one of the most important regions in the country, but it is unfortunately, resting upon a very active tectonic plate.  This is the same plate that shifted in 2012 and caused untold damage in Japan through violent earthquakes and a tsunami.  The almost four million residents of Los Angeles County are extremely vulnerable to seismic activity and tsunamis.

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Training and Requirements to Become an Emergency Management Specialist in Los Angeles County, California

Los Angeles County offers a wide range of jobs and careers for emergency management professionals in fields like public health, engineering, geology, and urban planning.  While there are many jobs in emergency management which require minimal educational or professional credentials, the majority of EM jobs have requirements similar to these:

  • A bachelor’s degree in emergency management, disaster response, homeland security or related field
  • Between five and ten years of experience in emergency management or response coordination
  • Ability to coordinate disaster response efforts from a variety of agencies and personnel
  • Ability to train and organize new EM professionals and volunteers
  • Superior written and verbal communication skills
  • Ability to design and execute training exercises based on federal templates like the Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program
  • Knowledge of the National Incident Management System or National Response Framework

LAC OEM regularly conducts exercises and drills utilizing a variety of possible emergency scenarios.  Emergency management personnel may also obtain additional training through classroom or online courses from the federal Emergency Management Institute, which certifies graduates of certain programs.  These include

  • Professional Development Series
    • Introduction to Exercises
    • Emergency Planning
    • Decision Making and Problem Solving
    • Developing and Managing Volunteers
  • Integrated Emergency Management Curriculum
    • Introduction to the Incident Command System
    • Exercise Evaluation and Improvement Planning
    • NIMS Multiagency Coordination System

Natural Disasters in Los Angeles County, California

In 1994, the second most expensive natural disaster in the U.S. occurred in Los Angeles.  The Northridge Earthquake was 6.7 in magnitude and lasted between ten and twenty seconds.  The earthquake killed more than 60 residents and injured almost 5,000.  The resulting damage was estimated at $42 billion.  Los Angeles also felt the effects of the Landers Earthquake in 1992, which was even stronger than the Northridge quake.  This 7.2 magnitude quake had an epicenter to the east of LA county and caused less damage to the city of Los Angeles. Only three people died from the quake bur more than 400 were injured.

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