By Daryl Lee Spiewak, CEM, TEM, CFM, CEM Commissioner, Past ASPEP President, Emergency Action Coordinator, Brazos River Authority, Waco, Texas
Many of the jobs and specialties performed by members of the armed forces meet the eligibility requirements for the CEM. While most specialties do not have the words "emergency manager" in their title or job description, much of the work performed relates directly to comprehensive emergency management. The key is documentation, and that is one place where military people have an advantage over civilians. Everything that military people do is documented somewhere. The problem for nonmilitary people on the CEM Commission is to understand what the documentation is telling them about that experience. In Part One of this month's tips article, I will offer some suggestions and tips for documenting your military accomplishments in the areas of work history, experience, references, and training – and putting them into terms that nonmilitary CEM Commissioners can understand.
The first thing you must do is document three years of comprehensive emergency management experience. This means that you have management experience with all hazards and all actors. Merely serving on a response team is not enough, but leading a response team might be. For example, a commander or noncommissioned officer (NCO) is responsible for protecting his or her unit from all hazards. This includes preparing for, responding to, recovering from, and mitigating against severe weather events and technological hazards, as well as the manmade hazards associated with war.
An NBC NCO, leading NBC teams, is another example that meets the work requirement. In this example the NBC NCO plans, directs and coordinates the NBC support to the organization. He or she also trains the response teams, ensures they are organized and properly equipped, and recommends various courses of action to the commander regarding NBC issues.
A NBC team member operating a chemical agent alarm or serving in a position on the decon line is not engaged in a management function. Therefore, this type of duty does not meet the work requirement.
Include copies of your evaluation reports indicating the emergency management functions you performed. You may also include a copy of your job descriptions listed in supporting documents if your evaluation reports don't provide enough details. One last option is to provide a letter from your supervisor detailing your specific emergency management functions.
The next thing you must do is document experience in an actual exercise or disaster response. This should be easy, since military units are constantly conducting exercises and many organizations are engaged in actual disaster or emergency operations today.
You may document your participation with an evaluation report, an after action report, a letter, a certificate or an award citation. A letter from your supervisor will also suffice as documentary evidence.
Remember to provide names and contact information for three references, one of which must be your current supervisor. Do not use military-only phone numbers such as AUTOVON or DSN because the commissioners do not have access to those systems. Use civilian exchanges for your phone numbers. Be sure to tell your references that you listed them and that the commissioners may call to verify selected information in your packet.
Here is another area where military personnel have an advantage. The military offers numerous courses related to emergency management and general management; the military issues training certificates; and the military has catalogs describing course content. Plus, the education centers can assist military personnel with converting their training and experience into college credits.
The application packet lists a variety of topics as sample subject matter that fits into each training area. For example, training in terrorism, fighting fires, planning for and responding to chemical attacks, rapid runway repair, base recovery and unit reconstitution all relate to emergency management. Leadership, communication, computers, ethics, finance, personnel management, and tactical and strategic planning all relate to general management training.
Some courses, such as officer and noncommissioned officer development or professional courses, take months to complete and cover numerous training areas. The course description will break out the hours applied to each training area. Include a copy of the course description, with hours listed for each training area, and you may be able to receive full credit for the training requirement with only one professional course. The key here is adequate and detailed documentation that shows at least four separate training areas because you can only receive training credit of up to 25 hours in each one.
One additional source for training is the FEMA independent study courses. They are free and available to military personnel by mail or over the Internet. You will receive 10 credit hours for each course successfully completed.
Just as with other candidates for the CEM, proper documentation is also the key for military applications. Provide explanatory notes and corroborating documentation for any discrepancies or potentially confusing areas in your application packet. When in doubt, provide more explanatory documentation. This will help the commissioners to more fully understand your claims. Proper and complete documentation will speed up the review process and will normally result in a positive recommendation for award of your CEM.
See Part Two of Military Submissions for a discussion of tips for the professional contributions and essay sections.
IAEM Bulletin, October 2002
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