The “Mile High City” has a greater chance of both earthquakes and tornadoes than Colorado or the U.S. as a whole. Between 1950 and 2010, Denver experienced 28 historical earthquakes (the largest was 5.3 on the Richter scale in 1967) and 38 historical tornadoes. On May 15, 2008, a tornado caused one fatality and 78 injuries, damaged 850 homes (300 of them either destroyed or significantly impaired) and killed 400 cows at a leveled dairy farm. Total property damage exceeded $147 million.
In the same time period Denver also had 2,275 hail storms, 467 violent thunderstorms, two wildfires, 150 floods, 43 incidents of heavy snow and more than 37 serious winter storms, including seven blizzards. The “Holiday Blizzards” that began on December 20, 2006 and lasted for two weeks, deposited five-foot-high snow drifts and caused four deaths. Denver came to a halt and was declared a disaster area. Mail delivery was suspended and holiday travelers were stranded when the airport closed and Greyhound bus service ceased.
Requirements for an Emergency Management Career in Denver, CO
Since Denver is the state capital there are emergency management positions in Denver with the Colorado Department of Emergency Management as well as the City OEM. Potential employers also include colleges/universities, utilities companies, medical facilities and large corporations. A bachelor’s degree is essential. There are three schools in Denver from which 150 students graduated with emergency management degreess in the 2008-09 school year.
Other requirements for a job as emergency management specialist include:
- Two or three years experience in emergency management, homeland security, public administration, law enforcement or a related field
- Skill in creating strategic/tactical plans
- Excellent written and oral communication skills
- General computer proficiency
- Ability to develop a training curriculum
Candidates are often required to pass an in-depth background check. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the annual mean salary for emergency management managers in Denver is $79,740.
For further information about possible openings call the Denver Office of Emergency Management at 729/865-7600.
Emergency Management Planning in Denver, Colorado
The Denver Office of Emergency Management (OEM) was established by city ordinance as an agency under the mayor’s office for the purpose of saving lives and property in the event of a major emergency or disaster. The OEM adopted the “Whole Community Preparedness” approach in which residents, neighborhoods, local government, businesses, faith-based groups, non-profit-organizations and the OEM all work together to prepare Denver for an emergency/disaster. The OEM has four divisions: administration/finance, logistics, planning and operations. Their major functions include:
- Developing/maintaining a citywide emergency operations plan for all kinds of natural and manmade disasters
- Providing training and disaster simulation exercises
- Developing community outreach through presentations, classes, a newsletter, an informative website; “Brown Bag It” lunchtime programs for local businesses, and “Disaster Ready” programs for elementary, middle and high school students
- Organizing, equipping and maintaining an Emergency Operations Center (EOC)
- Coordinating the response efforts of all involved agencies and organizations
- Maintaining and activating a siren warning system
- Developing a list of available resources (personnel, equipment, supplies)
- Providing administrative support
- Handling finances, including budgeting, grant proposals, purchasing, etc.
- Organizing/training a citizen emergency response team (CERT)