The Jefferson County Emergency Management Agency and its equivalent Louisville agency joined forces as the Louisville Metro Emergency Management Agency in 2003 as part of the city-county merger. This is the overarching agency in charge of emergency management when a disaster overwhelms the capabilities of metro response forces, and can notify state and federal forces if their assistance is required. This agency is the main provider of emergency management jobs in Jefferson County, though there are also other organizations based locally who utilize these specialists, including:
- Kentucky Division of Emergency Management
- Hazardous Materials Response Team
- Kentucky Office of Homeland Security
- Louisville Area Chapter of the American Red Cross
Training, Certification, and Education for Future Emergency Management Careers in Jefferson County
At public, private, and online higher education institutions, those planning for future emergency management careers in Jefferson County have a number of associate and bachelor degree programs to choose from, including:
- Public Health
- Urban Planning
- Social Sciences
Emergency management coordinators work in a variety of specialized positions where specific skills are required, and therefore come from a diverse education and training background. Coordinator positions will specify their individual requirements that range from First Aid certification to a bachelor’s degree in emergency management.
There are several locations where prospective coordinators can obtain relevant emergency management training and certification in Jefferson County. These include the local chapter of the American Red Cross, the Kentucky Emergency Management Agency, and federal training programs. Certification courses from these agencies include the following, with the possibility that federal courses may be offered outside the county:
- First Aid and CPR
- Bloodborne Pathogens
- Chemical Stockpile Emergency Preparedness Program
- Emergency Operations Centers Management and Operations
- Hazmat Awareness
- Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program
- Disaster Health
- Emergency Management and Public Health
- Emergency and Disaster Management
Emergency Management Coordinators in Action
Due to the location and climate of the Louisville metro area, emergency management coordinators in Jefferson County are likely to respond to some sort of disaster event like flooding, tornadoes, or severe thunderstorms at least once every few years. In the middle of August in 2009, emergency management specialists faced a severe thunderstorm system that broke all previous records in the region with up to six inches of raining falling in the span of one hour during the most intense period. As a result, Louisville and the surrounding regions were inundated by flash flooding, causing a breakdown of infrastructure including roads, electricity, and the closing of the airport. Additional lightning strikes on the regional headquarters of the National Weather Service and radio broadcasting towers caused these to cease functioning.
Fortunately emergency management coordinators working for local, state, federal, and non-profit agencies had begun preparations for the storms well in advance, referring to their flood and severe thunderstorm contingency plans and issuing warnings, ensuring emergency shelters were stocked, and strategically distributing emergency resources. Quick informed thinking helped technicians get the damaged radio tower back online, and ultimately thanks to the orchestrated and organized work of emergency management coordinators, first responders, National Guard, and informed citizens, there were no confirmed deaths as a result of the flooding.