By Daryl Lee Spiewak, CEM, TEM, MEP, Lead Trainer for the CEM Commission, and Chair, IAEM-Global Communications Work Group
Last month our discussion on resubmissions focused on the common errors Commissioners encounter when reviewing the emergency management essay with a focus on the six Design Elements. This month I will continue our discussion on common errors with the emergency management essay by focusing on the first three of nine knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs).
There are nine KSA’s specified for the essay. Commissioners grade them on a scale of 0, 1, or 2.
The first six points are awarded for the six Design Elements discussed in the previous CEM® Corner article. That leaves a minimum of 12 points out of the 18 available for the nine KSAs. Addressing all nine KSAs in a superficial or generic manner only provides nine points – not enough to pass. Failing to address one or more KSAs usually results in a resubmission requirement.
So be sure to address all nine KSAs, and do so in a substantial manner as the KSAs apply to solving your problem. Candidates do not receive the score. They only are told they passed the essay or the essay needs to be revised and resubmitted. In the resubmission letter, the Commissioners will identify the areas that were deficient – not awarded two (2) points – and provide suggestions for improvement. Pay heed to the resubmission letter and address all the deficient areas specified when you are revising your essay.
The first three Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities are:
Commissioners expect all six to be discussed within the essay. We also recommend candidates use these six design elements as headings for the body paragraphs (in addition to the introductory and concluding paragraphs) to provide structure to the essay and to ensure that all six design elements are covered.
The first step here is to review your first Design Element presented in the essay – identify your problem to be solved. Everything in the essay should flow from this statement, so keep it uppermost in your mind while constructing the essay. The essay should tell the story of how you will or how you did solve it.
If, in the narrative, the Commissioners believe you solved the entire problem in a reasonable manner, you will earn two (2) points. If there were some errors in logic and/or procedure, you would earn one (1) point. If you did not solve the identified problem sufficiently or not at all, you would earn a zero (0). Make sure you solve your problem before the concluding paragraph.
By definition, Prevention is the activities undertaken to avoid or stop an incident from occurring. Commissioners want to see what prevention activities were or will be used to solve your problem. A few prevention activities include, but are not limited to, elimination of the hazard, security patrols, background checks, access controls, immunizations, isolation, quarantine, uninterruptable power supplies, generators, land use restrictions, crime prevention programs, interventions, personnel management activities, and cybersecurity activities.
Solving your problem may require developing and implementing a prevention strategy rather than implementing specific prevention activities listed previously. The strategy may involve activities such as an ongoing hazard identification and threat assessment (THIRA), risk assessments, analysis of impacts, operational experience, information collection and analysis, intelligence and information sharing, and changing or introducing new regulatory requirements.
Commissioners know that not all problems may contain a prevention component. That is OK. Just be sure to explain why prevention does not apply to solving the problem so the Commissioners can see that you know what prevention entails and why the associated activities do not apply to solving your problem. If prevention activities are not addressed, you will earn zero (0) points!
By definition, Mitigation is the activities taken to reduce the negative impacts from hazards. This is distinctly different from Prevention, so do not get the two mixed up. Here the Commissioners are looking to see what mitigation activities you decided were or will be used to solve your problem, and if they do/will. Mitigation activities include, but are not limited to, activities such as implementing/updating building codes, avoidance
of a hazard, relocation out of a hazardous location, retrofitting, removal of structures at risk, and removal or elimination of the hazard; reduction or limitation of the amount or size of the hazard; segregation of the hazard from vulnerable people, property, or infrastructure; modification of the basic characteristics of the hazard; control of the rate of release of the hazard; provision of protective systems or equipment for both cyber risks and physical risks; establishment of hazard warning and communication procedures; redundancy
or diversity of essential personnel, critical systems, equipment, information, operations, or materials; acceptance/retention/transfer of risk (insurance programs), and protection of competitive/
As with the mission area of prevention, mitigation activities may not apply to solving your identified problem. If they do not apply, be sure to explain why mitigation activities do not apply to solving the problem so the Commissioners can see that you know what mitigation entails and why the associated activities do not apply to solving your problem. If mitigation activities are not addressed, you will earn zero (0) points!
The most common error Commissioners encounter with these first three KSA’s are:
Recall prevention and mitigation activities are different. Prevention activities apply primarily to human-caused hazards to prevent them from occurring, while mitigation activities apply to all hazards to reduce or z eliminate the negative impact of those hazards.
As stated in the previous CEM® Corner article, “paying attention to detail, as found in the essay instructions and scenario, will go a long way towards writing a successful essay the first time.” While addressing all nine KSAs is not necessary, failing to substantially address one or more KSAs will result in receiving less than the minimum score of 18 points and a resubmission letter.
Next month I will describe continuing errors that the Commissioners encounter in the emergency management essay with a focus on the second three KSAs. As usual, please send any questions you have about the examination or the certification process to me at email@example.com, and I will address them in future articles.
IAEM Bulletin, January 2019
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