The Palm Beach County Division of Emergency Management (DEM) is responsible for developing and executing programs for disaster preparedness. The Planning Section of DEM has analyzed county resources and produced a Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan which specifies responses to events involving natural, technological, and terrorist hazards. DEM has identified six particular areas of risk that could pose a significant threat to the lives and property of Palm Beach County residents: Hurricane, Flood, Fire, Radiological, Terrorism and Dike Breach.
The Herbert Hoover Dike is a key infrastructure in Palm Beach County that prevents flooding from Lake Okeechobee. Without the dike, in the late 1920s, thousands of residents perished when hurricanes hit the county. This structure is of great importance to the county’s safety both in the case of environmental threats as well as a target for terrorism. The DEM has also generated a plan for county residents should the dike fail, which includes alerts over radio and television, as well as phone calls to the residences in the affected areas.
How to Become an Emergency Management Professional in Palm Beach County, Florida
Emergency management professionals in Palm Beach County, Florida can be found across many industries including engineering, meteorology, business administration, public health and urban planning. The most common requirements for these emergency management jobs include:
- Possession of a bachelor’s degree in
- Homeland security
- Public health
- Emergency management
- Public policy
- Five to ten years of full time experience in disaster preparedness or homeland security
- At least one year of experience in supervision of EM personnel or programs
- Excellent verbal and written communication skills
- Knowledge of Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program, the National Response Framework and Incident Command System
- Accreditation as a Certified Emergency Manager
Training for EM professionals can be found with a variety of federal and private agencies. The Emergency Management Institute offers several certification programs including:
- Professional Development Series
- Leadership and Influence
- Emergency Planning
- Introduction to Exercises
- Effective Communication
- Fundamentals of Emergency Management
- Disaster Operations and Recovery Curriculum
- State Disaster Management
- Radiological Emergency Management
- Orientation to Hazardous Materials for Medical Personnel
The International Association of Emergency Managers also offers two highly respected accreditations: Certified Emergency Manager (CEM) and Associate Emergency Manager (AEM). In order to obtain these credentials, applicants must pass an exam and demonstrate experience in the EM field.
Major Disasters in Palm Beach County
In 1928, the Okeechobee Hurricane caused widespread devastation across Palm Beach County. This storm caused winds at 140 mph and storm surges greater than ten feet. The Okeechobee Hurricane caused almost 2,500 deaths in the region due to torrential rain, which raised the level of Lake Okeechobee far above previous flood levels. Thousands of people lost their homes to the storm and the resulting damage was estimated at $25 million, or $334 million in 2003 dollars.