Common Application Packet Errors, Part 1

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

During the January 2012 USA CEM Commission meeting, the Commissioners reviewed more than 170 applications. As part of the review process, we take note of problem areas candidates experienced when preparing their packets and consider improvements to the packet instructions, as well as changes to our supporting documents and training materials. A few of the common problem areas we noted during this last review included failure to follow instructions, documentation deficiencies, and sloppy application packets.

Failure to Follow Instructions

This was the most common reason for incomplete application packets. Each area has specific requirements, and the Commissioners follow those requirements when reviewing the packets.

  • Training requires a candidate to complete the required training form for each training course and to provide adequate documentation supporting course completion. For training courses listed on the Training Allocation Tables, a candidate does not need to provide a course description on the training form or a course syllabus. The difficulty here has been candidates failing to complete a form for each course not listed on the table and providing a course syllabus or description.
  • Professional Contributions seem to have a lot of problems too. For example, to get credit for conferences, a candidate must document 40 hours of attendance at emergency management-related conferences. Many incomplete packets provided documentation for a single conference that was less than 40 hours long. Do not count lunch and meeting times. Only count session times toward the required 40 hours.
  • Speaking requires three separate speaking engagements of a minimum of 20 minutes each on an emergency management topic. The three engagements could be on the same topic or a different one, conducted on the same day or on different days.
  • Teaching requires one teaching engagement on an emergency management-related subject for a minimum of three platform hours. The difficulty has been with candidates confusing speaking with teaching. Speaking is simply imparting information as in a speech, whereas teaching seeks to impart knowledge or skills in a formal course of instruction with a syllabus, learning objectives, and some form of test.

Documentation Deficiencies

  • Too Much Documentation. Commissioners noted two problem areas with documentation. The first is that candidates provide too much documentation. The application packet is not a compilation of a candidate’s work history. The application packet has specific requirements to document various claims.A candidate should provide only the documentation specified in the requirement. For example, a candidate must document completion of 100 contact hours of emergency management training, yet the candidate provided 300-400 hours of training or included much more than the 25 hours per topic area. Include only the required amount of documentation to achieve the requirement. A little more is acceptable just in case some training is deemed inappropriate, but don’t go overboard because it only makes the packet that much more difficult to prepare and review.
  • Unacceptable Documentation. The second problem area is that the documentation provided does not verify the claim being made. For example, in the Service contribution, a candidate attaches an invitation or appointment letter to serve on a committee or board, when the documentation needed to verify the contribution is something that demonstrates the candidate actually served. An acceptable document would be a copy of the meeting minutes that lists the candidate’s name, or a letter from the chair of the committee or board or the candidate’s supervisor verifying actual service.

Sloppy Application Packets

The application packet is a professional document. It should be prepared as such. IAEM provides a wealth of information and forms to assist candidates to prepare a professional packet. The Commissioners noted that many of the incomplete packets were disorganized and/or incomplete.

  • Disorganized Packets. The application booklet is the beginning. Following the instructions and forms will keep the packet organized. So, too, will using the tabs template that can be downloaded from the IAEM website at www.iaem.com/CEM. Ensure that supporting documentation is inserted behind the appropriate form. Do not place supporting documents elsewhere or place a statement on the form referring to a different location for the supporting documents. If the Commissioners cannot locate the documentation, the candidate will not receive credit for the claim.
  • Incomplete Packets. An incomplete packet is another problem area. Candidates forgot to attach supporting documentation, did not obtain the required signatures, or did not actually complete the requirement according to the published requirements. The application booklet includes a checklist. Use the checklist to review the packet before submission to ensure that it is complete.

IAEM Bulletin, May 2012

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