Although Las Vegas has a much lower incidence of natural disasters than much of the rest of the country, it is highly vulnerable to threats from manmade disasters. The city is a major transportation hub and faces the potential of hazardous waste spills on a daily basis. Potential terrorist activity in the city is also considered a very high risk by the state of Nevada.
The Office of Emergency Management for Las Vegas coordinates the preparations for any major disaster or emergency that might affect the city. They are one source of emergency management jobs in Las Vegas, but certainly not the only one. In the private sector, other emergency management professionals are employed with the numerous large companies in the leisure and hospitality and transportation industries that operate in the city.
Requirements for an Emergency Management Career in Las Vegas
Starting a career as an emergency management specialist in Las Vegas typically requires at least a bachelor’s degree or prior experience in the field. Students who seek to obtain a two-year degree can obtain an Associate of Arts with an emphasis on emergency management from a school in Las Vegas.
Emergency management specialists with bachelor’s or graduate degrees generally command higher salaries and with experience can obtain employment as emergency management coordinators or directors. Such degrees can be obtained from schools that offer online learning.
The state of Nevada encourages emergency management professionals to have a high level of education, and actually sponsors students interested in obtaining training at the national level. While much of this training is conducted around the country, students can take part in large scale field exercises within the state at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Nevada Test Site. It is a national center for tests and training related to emergency management.
Potential Disasters in Las Vegas
The state of Nevada assessed the probability of different types of emergencies occurring throughout the state. Two types of events were designated as being of very high risk.
Earthquakes – Although earthquake activity in Nevada is infrequent, the state is ranked third in the country in the frequency of large earthquakes that have occurred over the past 150 years. The Las Vegas Valley is now more vulnerable to earthquake damage, because the creation of a shallow groundwater pool has increased the potential for liquefaction to occur. The probability for an earthquake occurring in Las Vegas is estimated to be 12% and potential losses are greater than $7 billion.
Terrorism – Terrorists have been active in Las Vegas, including an attempt to buy bubonic plague in 1998 and the contamination of a motel room with ricin in 2008. In addition, police have seized videotapes of Las Vegas resorts from Al Qaeda operatives. Las Vegas has a number of high profile potential targets such as the “World Famous Strip,” Fremont Street, McCarran International Airport, and the Las Vegas Convention Center.