Local, state and federal emergency management agencies can often provide campuses with free training, as well as other necessities before, during and after a crisis.
Resources can be an issue for campus safety professionals in the best of economic times. With funding as tight as it has been for the past year, campus safety leaders must often work even harder to stretch a buck. This makes the resources offered by many local, state and federal emergency managers an even better value right now.
Emergency Managers Know How to Collaborate
With advanced formal training and time-tested concepts focused on preparedness, the emergency management approach is often quite different from that of fire service, law enforcement and emergency medical services to prepare for catastrophic events.
Emergency management agencies are typically not adequately staffed. They usually also do not operate from a standpoint of authority. Instead, emergency managers predominantly rely on collaboration and support to get the job done.
First, it is the only branch that truly specializes in all hazards emergency preparedness. Next, the field of emergency management specializes in serving as a hub for all public safety disciplines before, during and after a crisis. Finally, emergency managers focus on helping other organizations and agencies locate resources during emergencies.
If you need 300 law enforcement officers, a 120-member chain saw crew, 2,000 portable toilets, 15 helicopters, or a million gallons of potable water in a hurry, you will most likely get them through your local, state and federal emergency managers.
When I went to work for the Georgia Emergency Management Agency after a 20-year campus law enforcement career, I promptly learned how much I did not know about emergency preparedness. I also saw just how quickly and efficiently emergency managers could bring much-needed resources to bear during a crisis.
I was and still am deeply impressed with the ability of that agency, and others like it, to get resources to local communities under adverse conditions.
Contacting Them Before an Emergency is a Must
While we tend to take note of emergency management agencies when they are in action after a hurricane, flood, tornado strike, earthquake or other disaster, they offer many other types of assistance when things are not so chaotic. Some of the free resources they offer include training, assistance in developing, evaluating or improving all-hazards preparedness plans, assistance with exercise programs, and a wide range of routine technical assistance.
In addition, most U.S. emergency management agencies conduct community hazard and vulnerability assessments. If you have never met with your local and state emergency managers to review the hazards in your region, it might be a good idea to contact them to review this critical information.
In terms of training, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), most state, and some local emergency management agencies offer high quality training relevant to K-12 schools, hospitals and colleges. For example, since its creation in 1999, the School Safety Project of the Georgia Emergency Management Agency has provided free training to more than 80,000 campus and public safety personnel.
Emergency management agencies in other states also provide a great deal of free, high value training relating to campus safety and emergency preparedness. Many provide National Incident Management System (NIMS) training that is tailored to K-20 campus officials. FEMA offers free Web courses relevant to campus emergency preparedness as well as free training at the Emergency Management Institute in Maryland.
Before you spend precious budget dollars for emergency preparedness services from a vendor, make sure they are not available for free through an emergency management agency. A brief Internet search and a phone call or two may be all it takes for you to locate these resources from the dedicated men and women of our nation's emergency management agencies.