In Missouri, the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) is responsible for preparing state residents, public agencies and private organizations for the many threats that are common to the state. The most common natural disasters are tornadoes, severe storms, flooding and fires. The All-Hazard Planning Program provides guidance and assistance to local agencies and personnel. This program has helped all 114 counties create emergency operation plans for almost every conceivable disaster.
Missouri Voluntary Agencies Active in Disaster (VOAD) utilizes non-governmental groups who offer assistance to disaster victims through education, communication, coordination and relief. These constituent groups must be voluntary, non-profit groups who share resources with all victims affected by a natural or manmade disaster.
Missouri is unique in the creation of a volunteer board that evaluates buildings following an incident. The Missouri Structural Assessment and Visual Evaluation (SAVE) coalition employs volunteer architects, engineers and building inspectors to conduct inspections of structures following a tornado or earthquake. These SAVE volunteers must have at least five years of experience in a pertinent industry and obtain certification in SAVE techniques.
In 2011, Joplin, Missouri experienced one of the worst natural disasters in the past century. The tornado that struck this town had winds up to 200 mph, which almost totally obliterated the entire city. It killed 161 people and caused almost $3 billion in damages. The EF-5 tornado is considered the deadliest tornado since recordkeeping began in 1950, and the most costly single tornado ever.
Training and Requirements to Become an Emergency Management Professional
Degrees – Missouri’s susceptibility to natural disasters has generated a strong system of emergency management agencies and professionals in the state. In a posting by Camden County Emergency Management Agency, applicants for the agency director position had the following requirements:
- An associate’s degree or two years of post-secondary education is required; a bachelor’s degree is preferred
- Substantial experience in emergency management is required, while fire or safety is preferred
- Must possess a valid Missouri driver’s license
- Must be able to obtain Flood Plain Certification within 90 days of hiring
- Must be certified in ICS and NIMS
Training and Certification – Missouri offers a wide variety of training and certification programs through public and private organizations. SEMA provides Emergency Management Training (EMT) for state and local emergency managers, volunteers and government officials. The EMT program provides training in disaster preparedness, mitigation, recovery and response.
The Missouri Office of Homeland Security provides training for the emergency response community to incidents involving Weapons of Mass Destruction, disease outbreaks, and radiological material releases. This agency also utilizes federal evaluation models to design exercised mimicking terrorist incidents.
The Missouri Emergency Preparedness Association is a private, industry group that provides training through its Missouri Certified Emergency Manager Program. This program is modeled on the internationally recognized Certified Emergency Manager course. In order to obtain this certification, students must meet these criteria:
- High school graduate
- Completed FEMA’s Principles of Emergency Management and Exercise Design Course
- Have at least 100 certification points