Apr 252013

I’ve been asked more than a few times recently “What do you do?” and I’ve had a hard time figuring out the best way to describe what I do. Most people don’t know what emergency management is or what it involves. So here are some things that I do… sort of a description of my work….

Emergency management is the science of managing complex systems and multidisciplinary personnel to address extreme events, across all hazards, and through the phases of mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery.

These things are accomplished by using the Incident Command System. ICS is a fluid organizational structure in which people fill roles and responsibilities to over see the management of a major event. This allows for control over something that seemingly is out of control…. Controlled Chaos….

The Incident Command System refers to the combination of facilities, equipment, personnel, procedures, and communications operating within a common organizational structure and designed to aid in the management of resources during incident response.

Core Concepts of Incident Command Structure

  1. Common terminology
  2. Integrated communications
  3. Modular organization
  4. Unified command structure
  5. Manageable span of control
  6. Consolidated action plans
  7. Comprehensive resource management
  8. Pre-designated incident facilities (command posts, etc.)

The incident command process describes an ordered sequence of actions that accomplishes the following:

  •  Activates the system and defines the incident response structure
  •  Establishes incident goals (where the system wants to be at the end of response; these are referred to as “control objectives”)
  • Defines incident operational period objectives (measurable steps that contribute to reaching the goal) and strategies to meet the

defined objectives

  •  Adequately disseminates information, including the following, to achieve coordination throughout ICS:

Response goals, objectives, and strategies

Situation status reports

Resource status updates

Safety issues for responders

Communication methods for responders

–  Assignments with individual assignment objectives and operating parameters

  • Evaluates strategies and tactics for effectiveness in achieving objectives and monitors ongoing circumstances
  •  Revises the objectives, strategies, and tactics as dictated by incident circumstances.

All of these things happen during a major event/emergency. All the other days of the week, I analyze hazards, write response plans to deal with those hazards, and  test the plans using drills and exercises. I do loads and loads of research. I read interviews and articles about other major emergencies to learn from what others have done well or not so well. Lessons learned. I teach staff members about response actions and planning. I attend lots of training to keep up with my skills and to learn about new things impacting hazard analysis and response. I go to conferences, I watch the news all the time… I reach out to the community and develop a solid network of partners that I can call on when we are in need of resources.

For instance, right now I’m spending a great deal of time reading about the 11 hospitals who received patients from the Boston Marathon bombing event. I’m reading about all the hospitals in Dallas and Waco that received patients from the explosion in West. I’m reading about Hurricane Sandy’s impact on  east coast hospitals…  There are take-aways from all these events that will help me develop and implement better plans, training, and response actions.

And the best part? I get paid to do all of this! I love what I do.



Being an adult is like looking both ways before you cross the street and then getting hit by an airplane.

  8 Responses to “What I Do”

  1. So much to juggle all at once. I’m glad there are people like you making plans. I hope that most of the ones you make are never necessary.

  2. Yikes! You are one busy lady! So glad your job is going so well.

  3. You continue to amaze me, dear. You are one sharp cookie.

  4. I love that you are excited by your very challenging, but increasingly necessary job. Yay.

    • It’s sad that my career is increasingly necessary… it used to be that you only found emergency managers working in the public sector. and generally, it was a position that was dual-role … so typically it was the fire chief or someone like that who filled the role. but these days it’s become such a specific career borne of disaster and tragedy that there are now many public and private sector organizations that have a created a position dedicated to emergency management. there are now degree programs for the field too! i’m too old to worry with that but that doesn’t stop me from taking all the classes i can! lol

  5. Wow!!!!!
    Awesome wife!!!

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