Wyoming is prone to a large number of different types of disasters. Because of this, the state has one of the highest concentrations of emergency management specialists in the U.S.
In particular, Laramie County is highly vulnerable to disasters due to its geographic location and population density. The approximately 21 emergency management specialists in the county are critical to planning for and mitigating the impact of everything from severe weather to industrial accidents. In fact, the county has a vehicle that functions as a mobile interagency command post to help in managing disaster response.
The number of emergency management jobs in Laramie County is predicted to grow five percent in the next few years. Employers in the county include Laramie County Emergency Management and private companies that handle large amounts of hazardous waste.
Requirements for an Emergency Management Career in Laramie County
Residents who seek emergency management jobs in Laramie County should have at least an associate’s degree. Additional requirements include having a state driver’s license and being able to travel widely.
Those who seek an education in emergency management can obtain a certificate, associate’s degree, or bachelor’s degree in the field from schools located in Wyoming. In addition, a number of online schools offer training in this field. Possible courses include the following:
- Emergency Planning
- Disaster Exercises
- Mitigation Planning
- Resource Management
Advanced training is available from the Wyoming Homeland Security Training Program that is operated jointly by the Wyoming Office of Homeland Security and the Wyoming Law Enforcement Academy. While the emphasis is on providing awareness for weapons of mass destruction, the program also trains participants in the management of critical incidents and communication skills. Such training is highly important for the management of teams of disparate people who respond to critical emergencies.
Natural and Manmade Disasters that Impact Laramie County
Emergency management specialists in Laramie County have identified eight types of disasters that would be highly damaging to the county. Potentially catastrophic types of disasters include floods and tornados.
Flooding – Of all of the counties in Wyoming, Laramie County is the most susceptible to flooding. The total accumulated damage from county flooding was about $144 million in 2010 U.S. dollars. This is over $100 million more in damages than any other county in the state has suffered.
The worst flood in recent history was the August 1985 flood in Cheyenne that was caused by a thunderstorm dropping over six inches of rain in three hours. Twelve people were killed, and seventy injured from this storm that caused over $132 million in damages in 2010 U.S. dollars.
Emergency management specialists are working to try to minimize the future damage from flooding that will undoubtedly occur. Efforts are focused on Crow Creek, along with its tributaries.
Hailstorms – Laramie County lies within the part of Wyoming and the U.S. known as “Hail Alley.” This area averages 5-9 days of hail a year, and the county had 79 damaging hail events between 1960 and 2010 causing over $385 million damage in 2011 U.S. dollars.
Meteorologists predict a 100% chance of damaging hail occurring in the county in any particular year. Hailstones larger than six inches have fallen in the county, causing severe damage to cars, business, and crops. The August 1985 storm also produced hail that caused widespread damage throughout Cheyenne.
Wildland fires – The semi-arid county of Laramie County makes it vulnerable to catastrophic wildland fires. Such fires are predicted as being highly likely to occur in any given year. Over 32,000 people live in the wildland-urban interface zones in the county, making them especially vulnerable to damage from fires. Over $1.1 billion worth of buildings in the county are considered to be at risk from fires. The town of Pine Bluffs is considered to in particular danger from wildland fire.
HazMat –The use and transport of hazardous materials in Laramie County place a significant portion of the county at risk of chemical spills. The potential of such a disaster happening is considered to be highly likely in the county.
There are eight facilities in the county that handle extremely hazardous compounds. In addition, chemicals are regularly transported along railways and Interstates 80 and 25. This places Cheyenne, Pine Bluffs, and Burns at particular risk. Potential flooding exacerbates this risk, because four facilities that handle hazardous waste are in areas that are likely to flood.