By Daryl Lee Spiewak, CEM, TEM, CFM, CEM Commissioner, Past ASPEP President, Emergency Action Coordinator, Brazos River Authority, Waco, Texas
In past issues of the IAEM Bulletin, we have discussed every section of the AEM/CEM application packet, providing information to help you understand the requirements. We also offered tips that helped you prepare each one of those sections according to the requirements. This month's CEM Corner puts everything together by offering some suggestions for packaging and submitting your completed application packet to the CEM Commission for review.
First Things First. The first thing you must do is complete the AEM/CEM Application Cover Sheet. This sheet serves three purposes. First, it tells the CEM Commission who you are and provides contact information. Second, by affixing your signature it gives the Commissioners permission to verify the information you submitted. Third, it provides you with a checklist to make sure you included all the required sections and signed your emergency management essay statement. Without this document, the Commissioners will not review your application. It will be returned without any further action. The same applies if you don't include the appropriate fee.
Documentation. Next comes proper documentation; it is the key component of your entire application. It is your responsibility to provide the Commissioners with supporting documents to prove you satisfied all the requirements for certification. Make sure the supporting documents are included immediately behind the applicable form. Don't place all the documentation at the end of the section or packet, as this makes it very difficult for the Commissioners to locate the proper document to verify your claims. Do not include original documents; copies are fine and better for you since your application packet is kept on file rather than returned. Also, make sure the copies are legible. The copies are worthless if the Commissioners cannot read them.
Appearance. The Commissioners do not require that you spend a lot of money putting your application packet together. You do not have to buy fancy notebooks or place each individual piece of paper in an expensive document protector. They don't impress the Commissioners and actually make it more difficult for us to review. Using a large paper clip to hold all the documents together is not good either because pages tend to fall out and then get misfiled or misplaced.
The professional way to present your application is to use plain section dividers, properly labeled, and place the entire packet in a simple three-ring binder or folder that is large enough to hold all the documents. Don't use a three-inch binder to hold one inch of papers either. Use the appropriately-sized binder or folder; then place your name and contact information on the cover. Don't worry about using fancy typefaces, lettering or pictures. Simple and clean is best.
Next, ensure that all your materials are typed and easy to read. The Commissioners review as many as 100 application packets over three days. If we can't read it, you didn't do it.
Finally, do not include blank pages or sections and forms that are not used to provide information to the Commissioners. Take out those empty pages. It will make your application packet smaller, much easier for the Commissioners to read, cheaper for you to mail and easier for IAEM staff to file.
Potential Problems. One problem that the Commissioners encounter with application packets that have been submitted is missing signatures. You are required to sign the application cover sheet and the essay preparation statement. We look for those signatures, so make sure you signed in the appropriate places.
Another problem the Commissioners encounter is missing documentation. Without proof, the Commissioners cannot verify your claims and will not award credit – so double check to make sure you have the right documentation in the proper locations.
A third problem occurs with those candidates who fail to complete all required sections as specified. Make sure you have adequately completed and documented the required work history and experience, three references, and your job description. Check again that you have included a copy of your college transcript and documented 100 hours each in emergency management training and general management training sections with no more than 25 hours in any one subject area. Finally, make sure you have completed and documented a minimum of six different contributions to the profession and have completed the emergency management essay with your signature affixed to the proper statement.
The fourth problem occurs when the Commissioners disallow one of the candidate's claims. This usually occurs in the training and professional contributions sections. You can include more than 100 hours of training in each section, and you can include more than six professional contributions. Doing so will speed up the application review process should the Commissioners deny one or more of your claims.
Final Tip. I can't say this often enough so I will repeat myself. Proper documentation is the key for your entire application packet. It is your responsibility to document all of the application packet requirements. Provide explanatory notes and corroborating documentation for any discrepancies or potentially confusing areas in your application packet. They help the Commissioners to more fully understand your claims. Proper and complete documentation will speed up the review process and normally results in a positive recommendation for award of your AEM or CEM.
IAEM Bulletin, July 2002
AEM® and CEM® are registered trademarks of the International Association of Emergency Managers.