St. Louis County is part of the St. Louis Metropolitan Area but does not include the independent City of St. Louis. Extreme weather is common in this area. Heavy rains, high winds and tornadoes led Governor Jay Nixon to declare a state of emergency in St. Louis County just this May 31 (2013).
St. Louis County Disasters/Emergencies
St. Louis County is more likely to have tornadoes than either Missouri or the U.S. as a whole. Between 1950 and 2010, St. Louis County had 89 tornadoes of a magnitude two or higher, causing dozens of deaths and billions of dollars in property damage. During the same time period the county also experienced 4,925 thunderstorms, 3,680 hail storms, 1,216 floods, 161 incidents of extreme heat and nine blizzards. According to “Environment Missouri,” St. Louis County was declared a disaster area six times in the last five years.
The county has also had its share of manmade emergencies. There have been three mass shootings since 2008 in which at least four people were killed; the most recent occurred on June 13, 2013, when a man opened fire on workers at a St. Louis suburb business.
How to Become an Emergency Management Specialist in St. Louis County
Qualifications for a career in emergency management include a bachelor’s degree in emergency management or a degree in another field and emergency management certification. The county of St. Louis employment website posts open jobs and application forms. Additional information about possible job openings can also be obtained directly from the St. Louis County Office of Emergency Management, 4847 Ladue Bluffs Crossing Drive, Chesterfield, Missouri 63017; tel.: 314/628-5400.
Openings with the city of St. Louis are civil service jobs. Available positions are posted on the City of St. Louis website under “Personnel.” Interested persons may also contact CEMA. 1315 Chestnut St., Lower Level, St. Louis, MO 63103; tel.: 314/622-3501.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the annual mean salary for emergency management specialists in Missouri is $41,270 and $44,900 in the city of St. Louis.
Emergency Management in St. Louis County
The operations center of the St. Louis County Office of Emergency Management (OEM) is located in a self-contained underground structure that can function even when public utilities are disrupted. OEM functions include:
- Preparing local government, law enforcement, businesses and the public for an array of potential natural, technological or manmade disasters/emergencies
- Updating and implementing the St. Louis County Emergency Operations Plan
- Maintaining extensive radio communications
- Operating 195 outdoor early warning sirens
- Encouraging residents to have weather radios in their homes/businesses
- Coordinating activities of the Local Emergency Planning Committee which focuses on hazardous materials issues like storage, spills and leakages
- Conducting realistic disaster training exercises
- Working with local agencies/organizations like hospitals, the Red Cross, the Police Chiefs Association and the Salvation Army
- Developing and training a Civilian Emergency Response Team (CERT)
Emergency Management in the City of St. Louis
The City of St. Louis Emergency Management Agency (CEMA} consistently maintains an active program of disaster mitigation, preparation, response and recovery. CEMA’s primary functions are:
- Emergency Operations
- Emergency Reporting
- Resource Management