In the American heartland, Nebraska is often visited by some of Mother Nature’s most destructive events including blizzards, fires and tornados. In order to protect the residents of Nebraska from unnecessary risks and assist victims of natural and manmade emergencies, the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) has implemented an array of programs that facilitate disaster readiness, mitigation, response and recovery.
The NEMA Planning Section collaborates closely with local and county agencies to ensure that resources are stockpiled, personnel are equipped and trained, and that procedures are in place should a disaster occur. The Planning Section develops State and Local Emergency Operations Plans that are continuously updated as new technologies and resources become available.
The NEMA Homeland Security Division is devoted to providing the highest safeguards for Nebraska residents from nuclear, radiological, chemical or biological threats. In order to facilitate readiness, NEMA has implemented a regional communications system that connects all 77 counties and prioritizes emergency management communications. The Homeland Security Division also provides critical training and evaluation for personnel throughout the state through training exercises modeled on federal templates.
Requirements and Training to Become an Emergency Management Professional
State agencies sponsor many of the emergency management jobs in Nebraska, including a recent opening for Public Health Preparedness Training and Exercise Coordinator, which had the following requirements:
- Possession of a bachelor’s degree in one of the following majors
- Human resources
- Training and development
- Organizational communication
- At least two years of experience in training or education through workshops, seminars or other instructional formats
- Experience in public health or emergency response
- Experience in law enforcement, EMS or fire management preferred
- Proficiency in common internet and word processing applications
- Familiarity with National Incident Management System or the Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program
NEMA provides a variety of training and certification programs for EM personnel in public or private organizations. The entry-level program is the Nebraska Emergency Management Basic Certification Program which includes classes in:
- The emergency management profession
- Local emergency operations plan
- Terrorism preparedness
- Risk assessment
- IMS orientation
There are also a variety of other certification programs in Hazardous Materials, Weapons of Mass Destruction, and the Professional Development Series.
Major Disasters in Nebraska
In 1980, Nebraska was the site of a massive tornado outbreak that killed five and injured more than 200. Commonly referred to as the “Night of the Twisters,” on June 3 a supercell traveling over Grand Island generated seven tornadoes. The resulting damage was estimated to exceed $285 million.
Nebraska is often the recipient of extreme winter weather, with many of the worst blizzards targeting or touching the state. In 1949, a snowstorm with winds of 50 to 70 mph hit the state, blanketing many regions in 24 inches of snow. The storm trapped almost 250,000 residents, forcing the U.S. air force to drop supplies to isolated residents.