The mission of the Lake County Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency (LCHSEMA) is to help residents of the county prepare for natural and man-made disasters. The agency takes a two-pronged approach when confronting this challenge:
- First it conducts public education courses to make people aware of some common disaster risks and survival tips.
- Second, when disaster does strike the LCHSEMA must be ready to handle the emergency situation in an orderly and responsible manner.
This means issuing bulletins through its public information officers, staffing emergency shelters with volunteers and emergency management coordinators, and when necessary conducting search and rescue operations with disaster relief experts. Recently officials were involved in preparing for potential terrorist attacks as well as severe storms.
How to Become an Emergency Management Specialist in Lake County
Applying for emergency management jobs with the Lake County Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency can start when a candidate meets the minimum requirements for his or her desired position. Because these positions often place professionals in decision-making situations that could result in life or death, an emergency management degree or certification is commonly required for job candidates. These are available at locations across the county and range in depth from a few weeks for a certification class to a few years for an associate’s or bachelor’s degree.
Knowing a desired career path can help candidates target their education:
- Becoming a mental health counselor requires a bachelor’s degree in psychology or social work.
- Public information officers should have some education in their disaster-specific subject; a wildfire spokesperson would have a certificate in fire science.
- Emergency management coordinators come from an educational background in emergency management and public health.
- Members of Community Emergency Response Teams benefit from a certificate in general disaster management.
Some other emergency management programs include:
- Homeland Security Management
- National Security Technology
- Information Technology
- Emergency Planning
- Political Science
Emergency Management Preparations in Lake County
Lake County was named as one of the most likely targets for a terrorist attack in Indiana in a report released by a federal government agency. The report stated that it and four other counties were the number one targets for terrorists in the state, a status not taken lightly by the Lake County Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency (LCHSEM). For this reason and in the name of being generally prepared for any contingency, agency officials have ramped up their inter-agency emergency management training in Lake County and provided a greater focus on terrorism-related events. This includes everything from a hostage situation to scenarios involving weapons of mass destruction. The LCHSEM also works closely with local citizens – who are often times the first ones at the scene of a disaster – in Community Emergency Response Teams.
Tornadoes, severe thunderstorms, and flooding are unfortunately not uncommon in Lake County, and that is why the LCHSEM is constantly monitoring weather forecasts, conducting inventories, and assessing its action plans for these severe climatological events. After every significant thunderstorm or flooding event, the agency sends out disaster research specialists who study the aftermath, making a report and recommendation on how emergency services can improve their preparations and response. The LCHSEM creates action plans based on these studies and others like them across the country and world. An example of an improved disaster response is the addition of mental health professionals to field; this coming as mental health has received increasing consideration in recent times with the recognition of conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder. In addition to psychologists and social workers, emergency management careers in Lake County can include everything from business administrators to first responders.