New Mexico is the home of some very important federal scientific installations as well as related high tech private corporations, so a robust emergency management program is vital to the state’s security. The New Mexico Task Force I (NM-TF1) is a search and rescue team that performs its duties following an event that results in the collapse of building structures. This 210-person team utilizes HazMat and WMD personnel to help find and rescue trapped individuals. Canine units and electronic sensing equipment are also utilized to pinpoint survivors.
The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) is a repository of transuranic waste from local and out of state nuclear facilities. Over the next 35 years, 38,000 shipments will be made to this facility. The New Mexico Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (DHSEM) is responsible for the safe transportation of these radiological materials through the state and proper storage at WIPP. This agency is also responsible for emergency planning in the case of storage breach and material dispersal.
New Mexico is an arid, mountainous state whose only major susceptibilities to natural disasters are wildfires, hurricanes and extreme heat. The DHSEM oversees the state’s many disaster readiness and response programs. DHSEM provides guidance during planning phases and additional resources when local agencies are overwhelmed
In June of 2013, New Mexico experienced two major wildfires burning outside of Santa Fe. The Thompson Ridge Fire had burned almost 2,000 acres and forced the evacuation of more than 140 homes in the area. The Tres Laguna fire also contributed to losses in the Santa Fe National Forest and resulted in the injury of one firefighter. These fires have become more common as New Mexico has experienced a sustained drought through the year.
How to Become an Emergency Management Professional in New Mexico
One of the major scientific facilities in New Mexico is the Sandia National Laboratories, which recently posted a job vacancy for an Emergency Management Trainer. This position had the following requirements, which are common among emergency management jobs in New Mexico:
- Have a bachelor’s degree with five or more years of experience; or
- Have a master’s degree with two or more years of experience; or
- Have a doctorate degree
- Knowledge of Instructional System Design
- At least five years of experience in first responder or EMT training
- Proven skills in team building
- Ability to adapt to changing situations
- At least eight years of experience in the EMT field
- Ability to acquire Department of Energy security clearance
Many of the emergency management professionals employed in the state receive additional training prior to employment. One of the most highly reputed international EM organizations is the International Association of Emergency Managers, which offers the Certified Emergency Manager accreditation to professionals who complete the preparatory course and certifying exam.
The Emergency Management Institute is a federal agency that provides a diverse selection of training programs including the foundational Professional Development Series.