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One Career Path into the Emergency Management Profession

Get experience when and where you can!

I’ve written about careers in emergency management many times. My most recent International Association of Emergency Managers (IAEM) Disaster Zone column was on the topic of experience.

This prompted the email below to come my way, which I thought would be good to share about how one person’s career track has played out — so far!

“I enjoyed reading your November Disaster Blog article [The Value of Experience in Emergency Management] as it brought back a few memories for me. I had originally emailed you about my experience in getting into the industry as a mid career change back in 2011 or 2012 when I worked for the City of Boston’s Office of Emergency Management as their first Logistics Coordinator (you did a post on the email). Well, that job eventually was parlayed into my current position for Licking County (Just East of Columbus) which I relocated for in 2014.

“Figure 10 years later from my original email and the path for this career field is still the same … volunteer to get the experience until someone will take a chance on you. Then get as much experience and training as you can. Get affiliated with a regional IMT, as Nike says you have to ‘Just do it.’

“My path was as follows:

  • Master’s degree in EM
  • Volunteer with County CERT on Cape Cod
  • Volunteer with local ARES
  • Volunteered with local town of Sandwich, Mass., OEM
  • That turned into a volunteer director position in the same town when the current director retired.
  • Barnstable County IMT (All of the above was unpaid)
  • City of Boston OEM — Logistics
  • Relocate to Ohio for current position
  • Along the way, the following deployments were made:
    • Multiple weather events in Sandwich (Nor’easters and tropical systems)
    • Hurricane Irene
    • Superstorm Sandy — Boston (deployed with EMAC to NYC for Sandy as well)
    • Boston Marathon bombing response
    • Multiple large-scale exercises (2 Urban Shields (MA) and 2 Guardian Shields (OH))
    • Planning and response during many large-scale planned events (e.g., 4th of July in Boston)
    • River Flooding in Ohio multiple times (couple of declarations)
    • High Wind events in Ohio plus more…..

“The point with all of this is that keeping to this path does pay off and new people to the career have to put in their time to get that experience to be eligible to get those attractive jobs.

“I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything. It’s worth the journey.

“Love the blog and best regards,

Sean Grady  MS, MSEM, OCEM
Emergency Management/Regional 911/Homeland Security/Security Services”
Eric Holdeman is a contributing writer for Emergency Management magazine and is the former director of the King County, Wash., Office of Emergency Management.
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