Tampa’s location on Tampa Bay near the Gulf of Mexico makes the city vulnerable to hurricanes. A June 4, 2013 article in the Tampa Tribune reported on a survey of meteorologists who studied statistics from major U.S. coastal cities. They concluded that Tampa is “the most vulnerable and overdue” city for a direct hurricane hit. Tampa hasn’t had a direct hit since 1926; however, both 2003’s Hurricane Frances, which was a weak category two when it reached Tampa, and 2012’s tropical storm Debby, caused significant flooding, leaving worrisome questions about the possible impact of a stronger storm.
Tampa is also more likely to experience tornadoes than the rest of Florida or the U.S. Between 1950 and 2010, 51 tornadoes touched down in the Tampa area, which also experienced 1,250 violent thunderstorms, 732 hail storms, 236 floods and 15 wildfires.
How to Become an Emergency Management Specialist in Tampa, Florida
Persons interested in working for the Tampa OEM can go to the City of Tampa Employee’s Guide website and click on “Employment Openings” for information about available city jobs and the application process. Other potential employers for emergency management specialists in Tampa include educational institutions, medical facilities, utilities companies, oil companies, recreational/entertainment companies, etc.
Qualifications include a bachelor’s or better degree in emergency management or a related field, excellent oral and written communications skills and some work experience in an area like emergency management, law enforcement, firefighting, emergency services or public administration. Volunteer work or student internships are often accepted in lieu of paid employment experience.
Although Florida does not require emergency management certification, the completion of courses offered by FEMA is a definite plus for prospective employees. Courses offered online include subjects like:
- Operational Planning
- Disaster Logistics
- Emergency Communications
- Hazard Mitigation
- Service to Disaster Victims
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics lists the average annual mean salary for emergency management specialists in Florida as $83,460.
Emergency management specialists work collaboratively with firefighters, law enforcement, homeland security, emergency medical, public health, public works, the Red Cross and other groups/organizations. Program elements of the OEM are:
- Crisis Communications/Warning Systems
- Logistics and Facilities
- Law and Authorities
- Direction and Control
- Operations and Procedures
- Exercises, Evaluation, Corrective Actions
- Finance and Administration
- Resource Management
- Hazard Risk Assessment
Emergency Management in the City of Tampa
The mission of the Tampa Office of Emergency Management (OEM) is to protect the lives and property of Tampa residents and visitors in the event of a disaster. They envision the development of a “disaster-resistant community in concert with empowered and educated citizens and neighborhoods.” The OEM practices an all-hazard approach that not only involves hurricanes and other weather-related events, but also considers manmade incidents like acts of terrorism or hazardous materials spills. Functions and activities of the Tampa OEM include:
- Working with first responders, non-profit organizations, community leaders and concerned citizens to prepare for, respond to and recover from a disaster
- Maintaining an Emergency Operations Center (EOC) as the communication center for everyone involved in the response to a disaster/emergency
- Coordinates all emergency management activities
- Complies with National Incident Command System principles and methods