Detroit and the rest of Wayne County have had their share of natural disasters. Over the past few decades, the county has had 27 significant tornadoes, over 100 floods and numerous violent storms leading presidents to declare Wayne County a disaster area on six different occasions since 1997. There is also the potential for manmade disasters as evidenced by the 1987 crash of a Northwest flight after takeoff from Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport in which 156 people were killed.
Qualifications Required for a Career in Emergency Management
Basic requirements to qualify for a job as an emergency management specialist are:
- A bachelor’s or master’s degree in emergency management OR a degree in another relevant major, like public administration, and certification from the FEMA-operated Emergency Management Institute.
- Approximately three years experience in a field like firefighting or emergency aid work. Internship in an emergency management agency can often be substituted for some of the experience.
- Strong verbal and written communication skills.
- Ability to work under pressure.
There are five schools in Michigan (one in Detroit) that offer degree programs in emergency management. Courses include such subjects as:
- Hazard Mitigation
- Disaster Response Strategies
- Community Ethics
- Search and Recovery
Open positions and online applications are on the Wayne County Personnel/Human Resources website. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the mean average annual salary for emergency management directors in Michigan is $70,180 and in Detroit $74,060.
Wayne County Department of Emergency Management
The Wayne County Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (DHSEM) is responsible for planning, analyzing, implementing and maintaining programs and strategies designed to preserve/protect lives and property in the event of natural or manmade disasters in Wayne County. DHSEM incorporates:
- Emergency Management Group – develops policies and procedures for emergency situations that pose a threat to lives and/or property in Wayne County and provides training and education about emergency preparedness to governmental jurisdictions and private citizens.
- Resource Management Group – provides field operation services during disasters/emergencies.
- Emergency Operations Center – organizes, coordinates and directs Wayne County disaster relief forces during an emergency in order to reduce casualties and minimize damage.
- Technical Services Group – samples, analyzes and assesses chemical and radiological hazards; provides technical training programs.
- Notification Center – produces an online” Citizens Reference Guide” detailing emergency preparedness and operates a countywide emergency alert system.
Detroit Emergency Management
The City of Detroit maintains its own Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management that works with federal, state and county emergency management agencies to protect Detroit in an emergency situation. Activities of the Detroit office include:
- Prepares/distributes an evacuation guide that details procedures to follow in the event of an evacuation order.
- Publishes and distributes the brochure, “Ready Detroit,” which describes preparedness for a wide array of potential emergencies.
- Heads up the Detroit Emergency Planning Committee that brings together representatives from city government, emergency management, city police, fire departments, local hospitals, public health, transportation services, relief organizations and utilities companies to coordinate emergency procedures.
- Oversees volunteer groups like Neighborhood Watch, the Medical Reserve Corps and the Community Emergency Response Team (citizens who take 20-hours of training to prepare them to assist during emergencies).