Colorado Springs’ unique location at the base of Pike’s Peak in the path of warming Chinook winds allows residents to enjoy 300 days of sunshine a year with mild to moderate winter temperatures. However, it also makes Colorado Springs one of the most active lightning strike areas in the nation, a fact which once prompted scientist Nikola Tesla to choose the city for his lab to study electricity.
Nonetheless, U.S. News listed Colorado Springs among the 10 U.S. cities least likely to experience natural disasters. However, manmade disasters are another story. According to a 2011 Labor Dynamics report, emergency management jobs in the area are projected to experience a 21 percent increase by 2018. There may be many opportunities for emergency management specialists in Colorado Springs.
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Qualifying for Emergency Management Careers in Colorado Springs
A recent ad for an emergency management coordinator with the Colorado Springs OEM listed the requirements as:
- Bachelor’s degree in emergency management or a related field
- Two or more years experience in emergency management/homeland security
- Ability to assist in developing goals and objectives
- Knowledge of resource allocation strategies
- Experience in directing special projects
- Excellent oral and written communication skills
- Ability to give public presentations on emergency preparedness
One school in Colorado Springs offers a degree program in emergency management.
Open jobs and online applications are listed on the City of Colorado Springs human resources website. For further information about opportunities with the Colorado Springs Office of Emergency, call 719/385-5957.
Natural Disasters in Colorado Springs
Between 1950 and 2010 Colorado Springs had 1,806 hailstorms, 261 thunderstorms, 150 floods, 41 incidents of heavy snow, 35 serious winter storms and 10 wildfires. Floods and wildfires are the greatest hazards. They are often inter-connected because the destruction of trees and brush by fire leaves the barren land more susceptible to flooding since there is nothing to soak up the excess water from overflowing streams. The horrific Waldo Canyon fire started four miles from Colorado Springs and rushed toward the city, causing the evacuation of 32,000 residents. When the fire was contained on July 10, 346 homes had been destroyed and property damage reached $453 million
Emergencies and Disaster Management and Protocols in Colorado Springs
The Colorado Springs Office of Emergency Management (OEM) is actively involved in planning for hazards, reducing threats and preparing for a response to and recovery from any natural or manmade disaster or large-scale emergency. OEM functions include:
- Developing citywide emergency operations plans
- Equipping and maintaining an emergency operations center to serve as the hub for a multi-agency response to a disaster
- Providing preparedness information to all families and businesses
- Working cooperatively with federal, state and local agencies/organizations, including the Air Force Academy Fire Department
- Organizing/training the Civilian Emergency Response Team (CERT)
- Conducting multi-jurisdictional training and disaster simulation exercises
- Assisting with long and short-term recovery efforts
The disastrous Black Forest Fire that ignited on June 20, 2013, started near Colorado Springs but moved away from the city. The Colorado Springs OEM was instrumental in establishing a “Disaster Response Center” for the thousands of people who were impacted by the fire that destroyed 486 homes and caused $86 million in damage. Teddy bears were distributed to children while parents filled out insurance claims.