Common Application Packet Errors, Part 3

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

In Common Application Packet Errors, Part 2, we discussed a few of the common application packet errors the CEM Commissioners noted regarding the emergency management essay. These common errors included failure to follow instructions, failure to solve the problem, and failure to include the necessary design elements and KSAs. This month we conclude our discussion of common application packet errors.

Work History/Experience

The most common reason for incomplete or unsatisfactory Work History was candidates not documenting three years of comprehensive integrated emergency management duties. The Commissioners accept various methods of documenting three years.

  • The first method is to document three or more years full time in an emergency management position.
  • The second method is to document the percentage of time spent performing emergency management duties that add up to three or more years.
  • The third method is to document the full-time equivalent of 1,920 hours per year.
  • The final method is to document any combination of the previous methods.

The second most common reason was candidates not documenting a minimum of three years’ experience. Many of the candidates document technical duties such as fire, police and EMS response. While performing technical or technician duties is critical to the emergency management mission, they are not comprehensive integrated emergency management duties. If they were, then any emergency manager could easily change jobs and be a firefighter, police officer or emergency medical technician. We know that is not true, because these jobs require specialized education and training emergency managers do not receive. They also require much specialized experience to be effective responders. So the two jobs are not interchangeable.

Job Descriptions

The Commissioners look closely at job descriptions to determine if the duties performed were actually comprehensive integrated emergency management duties. These are duties that include activities in preparedness, response, recovery and mitigation. They also include all hazards – natural and manmade – and all actors.

Many of the incomplete applications only describe duties in some, rather than all, of the emergency management phases. To be accepted, job descriptions should include activities in all four phases.

For those job descriptions that do not, successful candidates provide supporting documentation that demonstrates activities in all four phases, for all hazards, and including all actors associated with the organization’s emergency management function. A candidate may write the description if other independent documentation is not available. Just be sure to have a supervisor, HR director, or other appropriate knowledgeable person approve and sign it.

The other issue with job descriptions is that they list a large number of duties not associated with emergency management. The emergency management duties appear to be a small percentage of the duties described. When this occurs, the Commissioners give equal weight to each duty and assign a percentage to the emergency management duties. Then they multiply the percentages by the number of years in each position. When the calculated total is less than three years comprehensive integrated emergency management, the candidate’s application is deemed incomplete for Work History/Experience.

Independent Verification

That brings us to another common application error – independent verification of claims made. Independent verification means documentation that was produced or approved by knowledgeable people other than the candidate or his or her subordinates. A candidate may prepare drafts of documents, but the document then must be approved and signed by a knowledgeable person.

Another source for independent documentation may be official reports, letters or newspaper articles that mention the candidate by name. A document that does not mention the candidate by name will not be accepted as independent verification. In most instances, these documents are signed by a knowledgeable person other than the candidate. A blank signature block without an accompanying explanation is not deemed adequate verification of a claim.

Information posted on official websites, such as FEMA or the candidate’s organization, may be acceptable too. However, the criteria is the same as for hard copy documentation – it has to be controlled, published, and/or signed independently and not under the control of the candidate.

IAEM Bulletin, July 2012

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