Successful Strategies from AEM®/CEM® Candidates, Part 2

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By Brian V. Bovyn, CEM, Emergency Services Supervisor, Manchester, New Hampshire Police Department

David Kolb, MA, CEM, Tells His CEM® Success Story

Sgt. David Kolb, MA, CEM, of the New York State Police Emergency Management Office, begins his story: “When I decided to pursue my CEM certification, I truly did not know where to begin.” David knew of only one colleague in his agency who had successfully completed and attained his CEM, but that was years earlier. The process had changed, and the colleague was unsure how much help he could offer.

David decided to undertake this pursuit by himself. David obtained the CEM application, read it, and believed that he would never accomplish his CEM certification successfully. David decided his biggest obstacle would be collecting all the required supporting documentation. “One strategy I implemented was photocopying the entire certification package so that I had a master copy and a copy I could write on and check off completed areas,” he remembered. “This process helped me develop some structure, a road map to completing the process.

“The most important tip I can offer, for completing the certification process, is to approach the process in a highly organized manner. Read through the entire package a couple times before beginning. Write down any questions you have, and obtain answers to the questions before you start making mistakes.

“After I submitted my package, I received a call from a CEM Commissioner. The commissioner explained to me that I had misunderstood the requirement for emergency management conference attendance as one of the professional contribution requirements. I had not properly cited the required number of emergency management conference hours and supported each with validation documentation. The commissioner allowed me an opportunity to fax additional documentation, in order to validate the correct number of conference hours to meet the professional contribution requirement.

"One last suggestion: prior to beginning the process, assemble all training certificates, course syllabi, validation letters, diplomas and other key documentation, and place the documentation in a single folder for easy access and review. It’s a lot of work, but it’s worth it!”

Jay Hackett, CEM, also Has a CEM® Success Story to Share

Jay Hackett, CEM, Director of Campus Safety and Risk Management at Milton Academy in Massachusetts, also successfully navigated the CEM process and attained his CEM certification. “After a few years of letting the CEM application go from the top of the pile on my desk to the bottom, I finally got to work on it,” said Hackett. “Just because you have 30 years experience as an emergency medical technician and as director of campus safety at an educational institution doesn’t mean you qualify for the CEM® certification. I decided to make my CEM a priority in the 2009-2010 academic year.”

Jay notes that much of his disaster experience occurred outside the 10-year window and was not validated. Hackett’s validated experience had come recently during a four-day 30-community water contamination disaster in Massachusetts. Additionally, Hackett notes that at one point he had to become proactive and seek out opportunities to participate in disaster-related exercises sponsored by outside organizations.

Hackett identified education and training as easier components to meet the standard and validate since he had attained his master’s degree. “My emergency management training was covered in five graduate courses,” said Hackett. While the requirement is for 100 hours, I submitted 125 hours to give me some additional hours in case some hours were not validated.

“Finally, I strongly encourage all AEM and CEM candidates to seek out support in your pursuit of the credential. This support can come from reading the monthly CEM Corner articles in the IAEM Bulletin, or go to the IAEM website and check out the CEM Corner. This job aid is available 24/7 and offers some really great tips on each of the portions of the AEM and CEM requirements.

“Since I did not use my master’s degree under the Formal Education requirement, I was able to use an internship that I had completed for the Town of Milton and apply that under “Special Assignments” as a Professional Contribution. I would recommend that anyone seeking CEM certification should look to other CEMs as a guiding resource to help them reach their goal.”

IAEM Bulletin, December 2010

AEM® and CEM® are registered trademarks of the International Association of Emergency Managers.

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