Emergency Management Careers in Chicago, Illinois

The training of emergency management personnel and implementation of EM programs for Chicago is overseen by the Office of Emergency Management and Communications (OEMC). As the third largest city in the U.S. with over 9.5 million residents, Chicago is a vital metropolitan and economic center that must be protected from a variety of natural and man-made threats.

The OEMC is a major component of Illinois’ emergency management infrastructure.  The OEMC administers the Alert Chicago program, which warns city residents about impending or occurring emergencies.  This program also educates the public about how to prepare supplies, obtain training or develop a family plan in anticipation of a natural or manmade emergency.


How to Become an Emergency Management Professional in Chicago, Illinois

Professionals who possess backgrounds in homeland security, transportation management, criminal justice, information technology or public health often fill emergency management jobs in Chicago.

While the specific job requirements will depend upon the employing organization, most emergency management jobs in Chicago specify similar qualifications:

  • Bachelor’s degree in
    • Emergency management
    • Public policy
    • Terrorism studies
    • Business administration
  • Five years of experience in emergency preparedness and response or homeland security
  • Knowledge of major EM programs like NRF, HSEEP and NIMS

While the OEMC does not certify any emergency management personnel itself, it does work closely with certifying bodies for first responders.  Police, fire and EMT professionals must obtain certification and maintain it in order to serve in their respective fields.  In addition to professional licensing, there are numerous colleges in the Chicago area that offer academic certification in the fields of emergency management.

Chicago Public Safety Initiatives

As the lead agency in emergency response, the OEMC has taken the initiative in implementing a variety of public safety programs.  The International Secure Communications Network is a system of 350 miles of fiber optic cable that links police organizations, fire departments, city hall and other emergency management groups through a dedicated phone, data and radio network.

Chicago OEMC has also implemented a state-of-the-art video surveillance network called the Private Sector Camera Initiative. This program is integrated with Operation Virtual Shield, which is an initiative to deploy chemical, biological and radiological sensors throughout the city.  These cameras and sensors are hooked up to Chicago’s emergency management nerve center, the Emergency Operations Center.

Natural Disasters

Chicago has experienced a variety of natural disasters that have contributed to numerous deaths and widespread damage to the city.  In 1995, the Chicago heat wave produced temperatures as high as 106 degrees with a heat index at 119 degrees in some places.  The combination of record-breaking heat and excessive humidity contributed to more than 750 deaths over five days.

In 1979 a massive blizzard blanketed the city of Chicago causing widespread traffic snarls that virtually brought the city to a standstill.  On January 13, almost 16.5 inches of snow fell, setting a record.

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