Enhance Your Emergency and Disaster Career with EMAP Assessment
By Daniel Hahn, Faculty Member, Emergency and Disaster Management at American Military University
If you are new to the field of emergency and disaster management and want to understand what an emergency management program is, take some time and get involved in an Emergency Management Standard program (EMAP) assessment. As the Plans Section Chief for the Santa Rosa County Florida, Division of Emergency Management, my jurisdiction is currently going through the EMAP assessment. This process truly forces a program to evaluate itself in ways I was not aware of before I started going through it.
What is EMAP?
EMAP is less than 20 years old, but is gaining traction in the United States and Canada. The standards have gained wider acceptance and, in 2008, the EMAP program was recognized as a Standard Developing Organization by the American National Standard Institute (ANSI).
According to an EMAP document, “Emergency Management Standard,” EMAP and its criteria (standards) are meant to measure an emergency management program to ensure it is “flexible in design so that programs of differing sizes, populations, risks, and resources can use it as a blueprint for improvement and can attain compliance with the standard.”
These standards are not created arbitrarily, but come from industry experts. EMAP standards have gone through an evolutionary process, allowing the standards to be adjusted to meet the ever-changing needs of the disciple of emergency management. They have done so while keeping core criteria that are a necessary component of any emergency management program, regardless of size or location.
What Are The Standards?
The first two chapters in Emergency Management Standard spell out the purpose of EMAP, its authority, and definitions of words that you might not think need defining, but in reality do.
For example, an emergency management program is defined as:
A system that provides for management and coordination of prevention, mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery activities for all hazards. The system encompasses all organizations, agencies, departments, and individuals having responsibilities for these activities.
If you do not have time to review the entire book, check out chapters 3 and 4. These are the proverbial meat and potatoes of EMAP. These sections are extremely in-depth, which demonstrates to potential students the level of detail an emergency management program must go through in order to meet the EMAP criteria.
Chapter 3 covers topics like administration, coordination, and the advisory committee. The chapter overview states:
An accredited Emergency Management Program is characterized by visible leadership support, endorsement, and engagement demonstrated through the elements of its program. The Emergency Management Program chapter of the standard describes what is required in terms of program administration, coordination and stakeholder involvement jurisdiction-wide for an accredited program” (EMAP, 2013, p. 4).
Chapter 4 is more operational in its coverage, with its overview stating: “An accredited Emergency Management Program should have the following elements: prevention, preparedness, mitigation, response and recovery (EMAP, 2013, p. 5).
Benefits of EMAP
The EMAP process ensures that an emergency management program has procedures in place in order to execute its plans and standard operating guidelines (SOGs). It makes a program look at its partners and ensures stakeholder buy-in. It forces a program to evaluate itself in-depth and question its procedures.
The EMAP process is not U.S.-centric so it does not force National Incident Management System (NIMS) compliance nor adherence to FEMA regulations. The EMAP process is about making programs better.
There is a cost involved, and work—lots of work. But encourage your agency to budget for the EMAP process and start the work. In the long run, the EMAP experience will make your program a better one for all of your stakeholders.
About the Author: Daniel Hahn is the Plans Section Chief for the Santa Rosa County Florida, Division of Emergency Management. Daniel was named the Florida Emergency Preparedness Association (FEPA) 2009 Emergency Management Professional of the year. Daniel earned his master’s degree in Emergency and Disaster Management with AMU, and has an MBA with a specialization in Homeland Security. Daniel is an active member of the International Association of Emergency Managers (IAEM). Daniel has his CEM from IAEM, and his FPEM from FEPA.