A recent City Hazard Vulnerability (HVA) Analysis reported that the three most likely and damaging potential hazards to Pittsburgh are flooding, landslides, and winter storms. Due to Pittsburgh’s location in the country’s northeast and its hilly terrain, this city is often subject to heavy winter snowfall, ground subsidence, landslides, and flooding.
Just a few notable weather events in Pittsburgh in recent years include: the Blizzard of 1993, which brought more than 23 inches to the region; the North American Blizzard of 2010, which brought more than 24 inches of snow in less than 24 hours; and Hurricane Ivan, which dumped more than 6 inches of rain to the area in less than 12 hours.
The goal of the Pittsburgh Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security (OEMHS) is to reduce the vulnerability to both people and property in the event of a natural or manmade disaster. They also work to provide prompt rescue and treatment services to people during a disaster, and they provide rapid and orderly restoration and recovery services following a disaster. The OEMHS also works to educate the public regarding how to best respond to disasters.
Emergency Management Degree Programs
It is widely accepted that individuals seeking emergency management careers complete a course of study resulting in a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university. Many individuals seek bachelor’s degrees in emergency management, public administration, urban planning, homeland security, or disaster/crisis management. Just a few of the programs available in emergency management include:
- Bachelor of Science in Emergency Management
- Bachelor of Applied Science in Emergency Management and Homeland Security
- Bachelor of Science in Crisis Management and Homeland Security
- Bachelor of Arts in Disaster Management
Practical experience is a major component of any solid emergency management career; as such, many employers seek emergency management personnel with at least 3 years of professional experience.
Training and Certification for Emergency Management Personnel in Pittsburgh
Under Pennsylvania law, all emergency management coordinators must achieve two levels of certification, and the majority of the certification requirement is satisfied through both FEMA and the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA). PEMA administers the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Coordinator certification program. Individuals must complete a number of courses to achieve basic certification:
- Hazardous Weather and Flooding Preparedness
- Multiple Death Response and Coordination
- ICS/EOC Interface
- The Duties and Responsibilities of an Emergency Management Coordinator
- The Work Environment of an Emergency Management Coordinator
- Initial Damage Reporting
PEMA regularly conducts exercises to ensure the effectiveness of emergency management programs throughout the state. Although PEMA is not an accredited academic institution, it does work with a number of colleges and universities across the state to provide college-level curriculum to meet state training requirements.
PEMA’s Current Multi-Year and Exercise Plan (2013-2017) outlines all training and exercise programs offered by PEMA, some of which include:
- Emergency Operations
- Med/Surge Mass Casualty
- School Active Shooter
- Severe Weather Exercise
- Volunteer and Donations Management
- All Hazards Mitigation Plan Training
- Substantial Damage Training
About the Pittsburgh OEHMS
The Pittsburgh OEHMS is a key player in all emergency management and homeland security operations in the City of Pittsburgh. OEMHS works with a number of agencies and partners at the city, county, state, regional and federal levels to develop all-hazards plans for both natural and manmade disasters. OEHMS also serves to provide interagency coordination and communications capabilities to first responders and other key personnel during emergency situations and special events.