Washington, known as the scenic Evergreen State, usually experiences at least a couple wildfire disasters every year. Also common are mudslides, floods, and severe winter storms. A sophisticated tsunami alert system is also in place to alert residents of the rare-but-possible danger posed by these destructive waves induced by earthquakes – events seismologists predict will happen in the relatively near future. These scientists allude to a foreboding “big one” stemming from Puget Sound fault lines near Seattle. Personnel involved in emergency management training in Washington do prepare for tsunami and earthquake scenarios even though the occurrence of such disasters is rare.
However, Washington is home to the site of the deadliest and most economically destructive natural disasters of its kind to take place in the history of the United States, the 1980 eruption of Mount Saint Helens, which to this day remains an active volcano. During this disaster, emergency management forces at the federal, state, local, and tribal levels coordinated their responses to provide logistical support, emergency response, and inform the public on what to do when encountering the 540 million tons of ash that blackened skies as it fell over 11 states, propelled by the initial eruption blast equivalent to 24 megatons of TNT, or the most powerful nuclear bomb ever developed by the United States.
Emergency Management Jobs in Washington
There is a wide variety of emergency management jobs in Washington State, available at all levels and jurisdictions of government as well as the private sector. Although most people think of Washington emergency management careers as being those of the first responders and government officials seen on the news, there are many more people working behind the scenes in roles such as:
- Emergency shelter and housing coordinators
- Logistics personnel
- Mobile networks, communications, and information systems
- Warehouse inventory managers
- Essential services directors
- Floodplain and forest surveyors
- GIS systems and mapping
- Law enforcement
Preparing for Careers in Washington Emergency Management
Because of the many choices for Washington emergency management careers, an interested citizen have good chances of finding a position that is right for his or her own unique skills and abilities. Online resources, community colleges, non-profit organizations, and community centers offer introductory opportunities for emergency management certification in Washington where those interested can take courses and get a flavor for what it is like operating in a disaster zone.
When one is ready to make a stronger commitment towards a future career in the field there are also many opportunities to obtain a relevant emergency management degree in Washington State. These include associate, bachelor, and master degrees in a variety of subjects, including:
- Criminal Justice
- Legal Studies
- Homeland Security and Emergency Management
- Law Enforcement
- Criminal Justice – Terrorism, Mediation, and Peace
- Forensic Psychology
- Public Administration