Kentucky Emergency Management (KYEM) oversees the state’s disaster readiness and response programs. Among the numerous programs designed to protect lives and property of Kentucky residents are the
- Stockpile Emergency Preparedness Program—trains first responders and emergency personnel in scenarios related to a chemical release from the Blue Grass Army Depot
- Earthquake Program—protects communities in Western Kentucky who reside in the New Madrid Earthquake Zone through public outreach and preparation
- Hazard Mitigation Grant Program—eliminates or reduces risks to life or property from long term natural or technological threats
- Volunteer Coordination Program—prepares community organizations with training and information prior to and following emergency situations
Requirements and Training to Become an Emergency Management Professional
Among the major providers of emergency management jobs in Kentucky are the state and federal governments. In the latest job description at www.USAJobs.gov, the qualifications for a position as an emergency management specialist in flood plain hazard mitigation and management included:
- Possession of a bachelor’s degree
- Experience in flood plain management theories and operations
- Prior work in distributing flood plain permits and review sequencing
The responsibilities of EM specialists include
- Implement processes for collecting and collating data
- Prepare and distribute guidelines for flood plain management
- Determine damage goals for flood plain management strategies
- Provide assistance to state agencies through education and outreach
- Generate tactical plans for achieving functional objectives
- Assign tasks to crews responsible for implementing flood plain management strategies
EM personnel may take advantage of several certification programs that designate graduates as proficient in specified areas of emergency management. Kentucky Emergency Management established the Applicant Agent Certified Course to train agency officials in facilitating the application process for federal assistance.
This agency also recently instituted the HazMat Training program which offers year-round instruction to professionals responsible for disposing or transporting hazardous materials. KYEM also designs and conducts training exercises that are modeled on federal programs like the National Incident Management System and the Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program.
Kentucky’s Major Disasters
Kentucky is ranked eighth in the country for natural disasters. Since 1953, Kentucky has experienced 56 major natural disasters including tornadoes, snowstorms, flooding and severe thunderstorms. In 2008, Kentucky experienced the largest power outage in its history. The outage was a result of a massive ice storm that blanketed the state causing downed power lines. Almost 525,000 residents in the state were without power for at least a few days, and 200,000 were without water. The enormous threat to public safety prompted the governor to activate the entire state’s National Guard. This storm is suspected in dozens of deaths throughout the state.
Kentucky was also home to one of the most unusual disasters in U.S. history. In 1981, a large explosion erupted in downtown Louisville. Almost two miles of roads were destroyed as well as numerous cars and buildings. The investigation into the incident determined that a local company had been illegally dumping flammable hexane into the sewer system. In response, the city and the state tightened regulations on the disposal of hazardous materials.