CEM® Corner: Benchmarks in Emergency Management - Pinnacles of Success or just Window Dressing?

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

Do benchmarks in emergency management really exist? A benchmark is “a standard of excellence, achievement, etc., which similar things must be measured or judged.” – Dictionary.com, 2009

EMAP as the Benchmark for EM Programs

By definition, emergency management has two predominant benchmarks and many less predominant benchmarks. The Emergency Management Accreditation Program (EMAP) is the recognized benchmark for emergency management programs seeking excellence. Those emergency management programs that are reviewed in an onsite assessment using the EMAP standards are measured against the recognized industry standard.

Emergency Management Standard by EMAP (EMAP, 2007) has 63 standards in 16 categories: program management; administration and finance; laws and authorities; hazard identification; risk assessment and consequence analysis; hazard mitigation; prevention and security; planning; incident management; resource management and logistics; mutual aid; communications and warning; operations and procedures; facilities; training, exercises, evaluation and corrective actions; and crisis communications, public education and public information.

To date, 20 states and four county jurisdictions have received full EMAP accreditation; two states have received full re-accreditation. “With the approval of the commission, these states have completed the final step for accreditation,” said Karen Windon, chairperson of the EMAP Commission and deputy county administrator of Manatee County, Florida. “States like these that work toward and achieve compliance with these standards are at the forefront in ensuring their residents are served by a comprehensive system to deal with disasters.” (EMAP, 2009)
Accreditation is a means of demonstrating, through program self-assessment, documentation and on-site assessment by an independent peer-review team, that a program meets national standards. Accreditation is valid for five years from the date the EMAP Commission grants accreditation. Accredited programs must maintain compliance with EMAP standards and be reassessed in five years to maintain accredited status. (EMAP, 2009)

EMAP baseline assessments for states were initially authorized and funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and a second round of baseline assessments have been approved by FEMA and funded to measure the improvements made by programs since the first round. While funding is guaranteed by FEMA for the second round of baseline assessments for states, participation by the states is voluntary.

IAEM is the Benchmark for EM Professionals

IAEM’s Associate Emergency Manager (AEM) and Certified Emergency Manager (CEM) Program is the benchmark for individual achievement of excellence in emergency management. The IAEM AEM/CEM credential is neither easily earned nor maintained. The AEM/CEM credential is based upon the candidate demonstrating a formula of knowledge, skills and abilities in emergency management.

The AEM/CEM credential requires a minimum of three years full-time comprehensive emergency management experience, participation in an actual disaster or full-scale exercise, professional references, a comprehensive essay, 100 hours each of emergency management and general management training, a minimum of six different professional contributions, and successful completion of a 100-question comprehensive emergency management examination (IAEM, 2009).

The purpose of the AEM/CEM is to recognize that a professional emergency management practitioner possesses at least a minimum of knowledge, skills and abilities in emergency management against the set benchmark standard. Any AEM/CEM should be able to satisfactorily operate functionally as an emergency manager in almost any jurisdiction or other emergency management program.

IAEM has certified a total of 1,358 Certified Emergency Managers. There are currently 24 Associate Emergency Managers and 825 Certified Emergency Managers.

The Importance of Quality Control Maintenance

While there are benchmarks in place, such as EMAP for programs and CEM for individuals, who polices the integrity of the benchmark? In the case of EMAP, there is a mechanism in place for program self-reporting requirements each year. Each accredited program must explain what enhancements have been made to their program each year in order to maintain compliance with the EMAP standard. Failure to report may result in a warning letter or potential revocation of program accreditation by the EMAP Commission. Additionally, EMAP responds to complaints about programs from the public, and these complaints are investigated.


In the case of IAEM, AEM/CEM practitioners are bound by the IAEM Code of Ethics, which each person signs and agrees to uphold. A violation of the IAEM Code of Ethics may result in a revocation of the AEM/CEM credential of the practitioner by IAEM.

Maintain Integrity and Foster Excellence

With these checks and balances in place for an EMAP-accredited program or an IAEM AEM/CEM professional, emergency managers should carefully ponder practices and decision making in day-to-day operations in order to maintain the integrity of the programs, and continue to foster excellence in the emergency management field.


Author’s Note: Special thanks to Nicole Ishmael from EMAP for contributing to this article.

Sources:

August 2009, IAEM Bulletin

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