Sample Certification Exam Questions – The Emergency Manager

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By Daryl Lee Spiewak, CEM, TEM, MEP, Lead Trainer for the CEM Commission

Last month we discussed mission areas vs. the four phases of emergency management. We discussed their definitions, along with their differences and similarities. We also discussed what a certification candidate needed to know about them for the CEM/AEM examination.

This article continues our discussion on exam topics with a discussion and analysis of a few example examination questions on the roles and responsibilities of the emergency manager.


NFPA 1600 version 2013 does not specifically define the emergency manager. It does define a program coordinator as the person appointed to “develop, implement, administer, evaluate, and maintain” the emergency management and business continuity program. The standard uses the title of program coordinator in a generic manner. It recognizes “that different entities use various forms and names for the person who performs the program coordinator functions identified in the standard.” But for the purposes of the certification examination, IAEM generally uses the terms emergency manager to simplify the examination questions and remind candidates not to confuse their specific job requirements, duties and responsibilities with the general examination questions.

Roles and Responsibilities

Emergency managers have certain legal roles and responsibilities, depending upon the country they reside in or the governmental jurisdiction for which they work. Emergency managers also have certain roles and responsibilities depending upon the specific industry they work in, such as military, medical or business and industry.

All these roles and responsibilities are too varied and job-specific to be part of the core questions. Even FEMA’s Independent Study course 1a, Emergency Manager: An Orientation to the Position, says, “Emergency managers wear many hats – including leader, alliance builder, communicator, planner, administrator, coordinator, educator, problem solver, and protector.”

So for the purposes of the core knowledge questions, IAEM had to narrow the focus of these roles and responsibilities. We narrowed the definition of the roles and responsibilities of the emergency manager to those described in the Principles of Emergency Management. The Principles state, “Emergency managers synchronize (coordinate) the activities of all relevant stakeholders to achieve a common purpose.” That purpose is “protect[ing] communities [as well as organizations, businesses, and entities] by coordinating and integrating all activities necessary to build, sustain, and improve the capability to mitigate against, prepare for, respond to, and recover from threatened or actual natural disasters, acts of terrorism, or other man-made disasters.”

Based on this definition for core questions, emergency managers coordinate their organization’s emergency management and/or business continuity programs, regardless of the actual title they hold and any additional duties they may be tasked with performing.

Emergency managers aren’t responsible for personally performing all the tasks that make up the program. They are tasked with ensuring that the proper person, stakeholder or partner performs the task. Coordination activities occur across all the phases or mission areas of prevention, protection, response, recovery and mitigation. Those tasks often will include leadership, administration, planning and training.

Sample Core Questions

So what would some core questions look like on the certification examination? Here are a couple, with a simple analysis of each one to help you prepare.

1. Which one of the following is a primary role of an emergency manager?
a. Incident commander.
b. Joint Information Center coordinator.
c. Program coordinator.
d. Shelter manager.

Analysis: The incident commander leads the onsite response to an incident. The emergency manager manages the EOC and supports the incident commander. The Joint Information Center is similar to the EOC, but its function is to communicate with the media and is the province of the public information officer. The emergency manager is the program coordinator for the appointing authority, so c. is correct. Finally, the emergency manager ensures that the shelters have trained managers and supports their needs through the EOC.

2. What would the emergency manager’s role in mass care be?
a. Distributing emergency supplies.
b. Ensuring the proper organization provides meals.
c. Inspecting temporary housing facilities.
d. Supervising physical security for congregate shelters.

Analysis: Mass care includes distributing emergency supplies, feeding, temporary housing, and congregate shelters. The tasks are all correct, so we cannot use them to eliminate any of the answers. The emergency manager doesn’t distribute supplies, but ensures that supplies are distributed. The emergency manager doesn’t inspect temporary housing, but ensures that they are inspected by proper authorities. The emergency manager doesn’t supervise physical security, but ensures that shelters have security. Therefore, the correct answer is b. Ensuring the proper organization provides meals is one of the coordinating tasks emergency managers perform in mass care situations.

Next Month

Next month we will begin analyzing another area of concern, along with some practice exam questions. Please send any questions you have about the examination or the certification process directly to me at info@iaem.com, and I will address them in future articles.

IAEM Bulletin, February 2015

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