Edited Transcript of March 31, 1999 Special Event

in the Virtual Forum


Special Message from
Kay Goss, CEM

Associate Director, Preparedness Directorate, FEMA


Brent H. Woodworth
Worldwide Segment Manager
IBM Crisis Response Team, IBM Global Services

Butch Smith
Assistant State Coordinator
State of Texas Division of Emergency Management

Dr. Gary R.Webb
Disaster Research Center, University of Delaware

Avagene Moore, EIIP Coordinator
Amy Sebring, EIIP Technical Projects Coordinator

The original unedited transcript of the March 31,1999 online Virtual Classroom presentation is available on the EIIP Virtual Forum (http://www.emforum.org). The following version of the transcript has been edited for easier reading and comprehension. Typos were corrected, date/time/names attributed by the software to each were deleted but content of discussions, questions, and responses are as stated by each participant. Answers from the speakers to questions by the audience are grouped beneath the appropriate question to facilitate meaning.


Amy Sebring: Welcome to the EIIP Virtual Forum!

We are in the Virtual Classroom today for Student Day. We have invited students and practitioners of emergency management to join us and hope to encourage both about the future of this profession. To assist us with this special event, we have invited speakers involved in various perspectives of our business to share some of their vision for the future and something about career potentials in the 21st century.

Before introducing our speakers, a few words about features of this software for new audience members. When a URL is used in the discussion, it shows in blue; for example: http://www.emforum.org/vclass/990331.htm . If you click on the URL, you will see the background page for today's session. It will come up in your browser window. If you lose the chat window, see the bar at the bottom of your screen with a coffee cup on it; click on it for your chat screen. If you lose your connection for some reason (it does happen!), just come back in as soon as you can.

We do try to keep order in our discussions. Once our invited speakers are through, we will open up for Q&A and comments. I will give instructions for the Q&A portion of our session after the formal remarks. We ask that you not send any direct messages to our speakers during the formal part of our discussion --- that is very distracting.

However, we want this to be enjoyable as well as informative --- I will provide explanations of various fun features utilized a little later today.


We are very happy to have guest speakers today who represent the public and private sector as well as academia/research. Please help me welcome:

• Chip Hines, FEMA Preparedness Directorate, and long-time Partner and friend of the EIIP, who will deliver a statement from Kay Goss, Associate Director of the Preparedness Directorate

• Brent H. Woodworth, Worldwide Segment Manager, IBM Crisis Response Team, IBM Global Services

• Butch Smith, Assistant State Coordinator, State of Texas Division of Emergency Management

Dr. Gary R.Webb, Disaster Research Center, University of Delaware

[Statement from Kay Goss, FEMA]

Chip Hines: Thank you, Amy. Kay sends her regrets and asked me to deliver this message from her: Although I couldn't be with you today, I am glad to have the opportunity to help start today's discussion off. Those of you who are students in Emergency Management are our hope for tomorrow. We are proud of you and are glad you have chosen to enter this important profession.

We are also tremendously pleased to welcome those already affiliated with emergency management. The Preparedness Directorate's highest profile emergency management professional training initiative is the Higher Education Project. Leading the continuing evolution and enhancement of the emergency management profession, our goal is to bring about the development of an emergency management degree program in every State by the year 2001. We need your help in extending this program and building it in each of your States.

We are also very anxious to establish higher education programs in those States that still do not have a program: Alaska, Connecticut, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Mississippi, Montana, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, and West Virginia.

The daily problems we face today are much more complex and much different from those faced even a generation ago--economic growth and environmental changes have created new threats and tough challenges for our society. New technologies bring an enormous variety of vulnerabilities and threats; population growth has placed more people in harm’s way; and the movement of people into the Sunshine States has placed them at greater risk to such hazards as earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes and wildfires. We are building a new generation of emergency managers who can handle these new and increasingly complex threats.

To further this end, we started working with the academic community in 1995 to develop and promote emergency management degree programs on college campuses for future emergency managers. Some of you here today may be participating in the programs we have worked so hard to foster, and it reminds me that we have come a long way. Twenty-nine colleges and universities now participate with emergency management degree programs and 26 more are either investigating the development of programs or are in the process of designing emergency management programs. Ten schools have certificate, concentration or diploma programs in emergency management; 5 have associate degrees; 7 offer baccalaureate degrees; and 7 offer graduate degrees. An additional 14 colleges and universities are developing programs and another 12 are seriously investigating the development of emergency management programs.

In FEMA, the Emergency Management Institute has developed five prototype college-level courses and has a dozen more in process. We have attempted to develop courses that are engaging and scholarly and that will be accepted academically on college campuses across the country. We want each course to serve as an exemplar of the project and of emergency management. Through the implementation of these courses in degree programs across the nation, we will continue to enjoy significant evolution in the profession of emergency management. Thank you for your attention, and I hope you enjoy today's session.


Avagene Moore: Thank you, Chip. We appreciate Kay's remarks. And now, Brent Woodworth who works with IBM and their Crisis Response Team. Brent, do you have a message for emergency management students?

Brent Woodworth: Thank you Ava, I fully agree with Chip. We are seeing new opportunities for individuals with skills in Finance, Risk & Insurance, Business Operations and Government Partnership. The requirement for these skills in the Global market is expanding. We have been approached by a number of countries that have asked for help in building an infrastructure to support disaster preparedness, prevention, response and recovery. (end)

Avagene Moore: Thank you, Brent. I am sure some of the students will want to talk with you. Next we have Butch Smith, Assistant State Coordinator from the State of Texas Division of Emergency Management. Butch, what do you wish to share with our young people about the future of this business?

Butch Smith: In the state of Texas, emergency management responsibilities are placed in the Division of Emergency Management which is a part of the Texas Department of Public Safety. The Division currently has 88 positions assigned, with four of those being temporary. These temporary positions are in our Disaster Recovery and Mitigation areas. Specifically, two are Public Assistance Officers, one is a Mitigation Officer, and the other is an administrative position. These temporary positions were created to help deal with the enormous workload associated with the three Presidentially declared flood events in Texas during 1998. Of the 88 positions, all but 10 are located in our Austin headquarters. The 10 field personnel include 9 Regional Liaison Officers (RLOs) stationed at DPS districts around the state and one planner at the Pantex plant in Amarillo. In addition, the State of Texas has emergency management positions at the local level as well.

The Texas Disaster Act requires each county in the state to maintain an emergency management program or participate in an inter-jurisdictional program. In addition, it states "the governor shall determine which municipal corporations need emergency management programs of their own and shall recommend that they be established and maintained ..." So, there are numerous career opportunities in Texas for emergency management graduates.

We have also hired emergency management students from the University of North Texas during summer months as interns. Thanks for the opportunity to participate in this forum, I will be available to answer any questions.

Avagene Moore: Thank you, Butch. Dr. Gary Webb, Disaster Research Center, is with us. Gary, please share your perspective on emergency management opportunities in your field.

Gary Webb: Thanks, Avagene. As always, it's a pleasure to be here. I thought I might start by saying a few words about my own background. Then, I'll focus my remarks on what I see as two major educational opportunities for students interested in disasters and emergency management

By way of background, I received both my bachelor and master's degrees from the University of North Texas, which was the first school in the country to offer an undergraduate degree in emergency management. While my degrees are in sociology, I worked closely with faculty from the emergency management program there, and I still work with them today.

After finishing my master's degree at UNT, I came to the University of Delaware for a Ph.D. in sociology, focusing my research on social aspects of disasters. As a graduate student and now as a post-doctoral researcher I have worked at the Disaster Research Center (DRC) here at Delaware. For more than 35 years now the Center has studied organizational and community preparedness for, response to, and recovery from major disaster events.

Having said that, I'd like to now draw on some of my own experiences and talk about what I see as two of the major educational opportunities available to students today who are interested in the field. First, students who are currently working on a bachelor's degree can choose to enter a graduate program that offers an applied degree or concentration in emergency management. These kinds of degrees are often offered through departments of public administration or political science. So, for example, a student might get a Master of Public Administration with a concentration in emergency management.

Right now I think is a very good time to be looking for this kind of training because these programs seem to be popping up all around the country. And that's probably due in large part to the success of FEMA's Higher Education Project, which has as one of its goals to establish a college-level emergency management program in every state.

A second thing students can do is to enter a graduate program in some discipline (sociology, geology, public health, psychology, etc.) that would allow them to do research on disasters. As with the more applied track, these kinds of opportunities also seem to be expanding (and will likely continue to grow as long as funding agencies have an interest in disasters). Students interested in these kinds of research opportunities can consider several major universities, including the University of Delaware, University of Colorado-Boulder, UCLA, Texas A & M, University of South Carolina, Penn State, Florida International University, George Washington University, and others.

It seems to me that whether a student has applied or research interests, there are plenty of educational opportunities available in the field today. And I'd be happy to answer any questions or provide any information I can to anyone interested.

Avagene Moore: Thank you, Gary. We also have Dr. Wayne Blanchard with us today. Wayne, would you like to say a few words to our students?

Wayne Blanchard: Just that hazards and disaster seems to be a growth business and I think we are really going to need to see a new generation of emergency managers. If there are questions about the Higher Education Project here at FEMA I could try to provide answers.

Avagene Moore: Wayne, thank you. Thanks to each of our speakers. I am sure your messages are encouraging to our students who will be looking for employment opportunities in the near future.

We will now open the floor to questions and comments from our audience. Please indicate whom your question is for and submit a question mark (?) to indicate you wish to speak. Compose and hold your question until you are recognized. First question, please.

[Questions & Answers]


Don Campbell: To all: Due to the fact that my college does not offer a degree in Emergency Management, does a degree in Public Administration decrease my chances for a position in the EM field? If so what can I do now to better my chances in the employment field?

Gary Webb: Don, although your school doesn't have a specific program, if you have some background or coursework in the field, you should be fine. MPA is a solid degree.

Butch Smith: I would recommend you attempt to get some emergency management experience either by an intern program, or taking some course through EMI if you can. I firmly believe that "hands on" experience in a disaster goes a long way. Obviously that is not always possible. In Texas we have a reservist program under which we hire temps to help during a disaster. From this temp list we often make permanent hiring decisions.

Brent Woodworth: I do not believe Don's degree will limit his ability to work in the disaster management field. I agree with Butch; I look for practical experience combined with educational skill when hiring

Wayne Blanchard: Public Administration degrees are quality degrees -- I would be interested in trying to get the school in question, if I knew which school it was and a point of contact, to try to add an emergency mgmt. track.

Louise Comfort: An MPA degree is a professional degree that encompasses many skills needed for emergency managers. Don can easily do course projects or specialized studies in this field.

David Crews: Don, I would suggest the FEMA Home Study courses and Contact your State EM Training Officer for EM courses offered by your state.

Russell Coile: I agree with Butch and David. To get experience to get your foot in the door for local government jobs, get experience as a Red Cross or Salvation Army volunteer, become an amateur radio operator, help in disasters. Join IAEM and start doing things you need to get to be a Certified Emergency Manager (CEM).


Amy Sebring: Emergency management seems to me to be a field for generalists. What types of skills are most important?

Brent Woodworth: Organization, Project Management, Finance, Negotiation, Management --- In the private sector traditional disaster management and consulting skills are being combined with risk management and insurance loss management skills.

Gary Webb: Knowledge of research on disasters

Wayne Blanchard: First of all traditional management skills, with an emphasis on being able to coordinate, communicate, and cooperate; then an ability to think and do problem solving on one's feet -- crisis decision making and an ability to empathize with those who suffer disaster and a desire to help those in need.

Butch Smith: People skills are extremely important, also.

David Crews: Planning, Programs, Communication, Training and Management skills.


David Cramer: Brent, please expand on "Government Partnership"

Brent Woodworth: Foreign governments and domestic are looking to develop increased levels of public and private partnerships. This requires skills in understanding and working with a wide variety of government departments and regulations.


Lindsey Burke: This is for anyone. Here at UNT, our program is filled with students from all backgrounds. From fresh college students (with no experience) to the already employed (some in EM fields) looking to better their already knowledgeable life skills. How can those fresh in college and about to graduate be rid of the anxiety of actually working in the field with people who have been their for years? Many of us feel like everything we are learning only gets us through school, even though we have been working with the Red Cross and in the field as interns.

Gary Webb: Lindsey, all that coursework will come in handy some day. Just be confident in what you've learned and be open to new ideas.

David Crews: The FEMA Disaster Assistance Employee (DAE) program is also a good way to get exposed to EM at the Federal Level. Many FEMA employees entered via the DAE route. A DAE is also known as a "reservist"

Brent Woodworth: Participation in "intern" programs will allow you to gain the practical experience you need. Many companies and government agencies have such programs available.


Tricia Wachtendorf: How does find these position openings, particularly in the private sector?

Brent Woodworth: You can find opportunities by reading some of the major trade publications and attending conferences. You should also stay in contact with the major private sector service companies such as IBM, Comdisco, Sungard, etc.

Gary Webb: What about government web pages?

Butch Smith: In Texas, we post our job openings on our Website.

John Alston: Tricia, many private entities are advertising on the web and in Emergency Service Trade publications and web pages.

BJ Sibley: Students, find a mentor, someone in the field who can help and guide you. Check with IAEM for someone in your area.

Chip Hines: FEMA has a section on our web page that is for jobs, and a link to other jobs in the EM field.

Tim Murphy: Professional journals. SCEPD has openings now and posts them on our web site.

David Crews: Networking online with EIIP and other EM interest groups can also generate leads for employment opportunities.


Isabel McCurdy: I am a Canadian Registered Nurse with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and working on a Master's in Policy and Practice. Are opportunities for employment in United States limited given that I am a Canadian citizen?

Amy Sebring: A former intern in our Emergency Management office is Canadian and is now a City Manager here in Texas! So I don't think that it is per se, however licensing issues will need to be considered.

Avagene Moore: May require a work visa or something.

Brent Woodworth: There are a significant number of international positions available in support of disaster preparedness and response. We currently do business in 62 countries and have hired many foreign citizens.

Tim Murphy: South Carolina state government jobs are not limited to US citizens, but professional licenses may be needed.


Joseph: Are internships available in the private sector concentrating in the information infrastructure, particularly e-commerce? And suggestions where they can found?

Brent Woodworth: Yes to Joseph's question. Look to many of the computer industry companies.


David Cramer: Butch, surprised to see that LSU has no coursework in EM. How do you connect with Louisiana at the state level?

Butch Smith: Louisiana and Texas are both members of FEMA Region VI at Denton and we have at least annual contact. We deal with them on numerous issues, such as disasters that happen on our borders.

Avagene Moore: There are a couple more questions that we will have to take after the formal part of our program. If you will wait around we will try to answer them. We are running long with good discussion, folks. Amy, please share some fun ideas with us.

Amy Sebring: Thanks Avagene. First I want to give a few instructions about the chat software that will help with networking . Please edit your User Profile as follows:

Select your own name from the Users List and select User Profile. An edit window will open. Edit or complete the information and in the Hobby field, include Student, or your job. Make sure a check mark is in each box for the info you want to share then scroll down and click on the Update Profile button to register your changes. This will help others identify your interests.

Next, for those of you who haven't discovered Direct Messaging, just double click on the name from the User List to send a private message.

We also have a Student Lounge room setup for informal conversation. Find where rooms are listed, scroll down and select Student Lounge [later!]

Finally, you also have the option to set up a Private Room for conversation. Back where rooms are listed, there should be an option to create a private room. For example, at the end of today's session, I will create a private room called Amy, and if anyone would like to join me to chat about the Website or the EIIP, just select Enter Private Room and enter Amy at the prompt.

Next we would like to move on with our Cartoon Contest. We have eight entries. I will be putting up the Web addresses of where we have them loaded, then afterwards we will ask you to vote for your overall favorite.

In our first category of Disasters/Emergencies, one submitted by Amy Sebring about the patron saint of emergency management:


This next one from Doug Ling takes awhile to load, but pertains to mitigation perhaps:


In our next category, computers, we have a couple of Y2K cartoons, first from Avagene:


And next, from John Neldeberg:


We have two entries in the Campus Life category submitted by UNT student, Jennifer Suter:


Funding is just one of those never ending occupational hazards:


In the miscellaneous category, this next from Avagene is a poke at our friends in the research biz:


And finally, we are getting close to tax time, at least that is what Kevin Farrell must have on his mind!


Now we would like to vote and this is how we will do it: Pick your favorite overall. Please vote only once. I will review the categories, and when you want to vote, use the graphic image for thumbs up which is near the bottom of the list of images or you can enter the text "//thumbsup" without the quote marks. We will tally and award the prize.

After asking for vote on each cartoon…..

Amy Sebring: And the winner is (drum roll please) Noah //first !

Now we promised you a little sun, sand and suds, but the best we can do is a virtual trip to the beach:


Everyone, say AAaaaahhhhh!

Tim Murphy: I've been looking for that hat every where!

Isabel McCurdy: Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

Avagene Moore: Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

Amy Sebring: Don't forget your //ball

Chip Hines: //music //beer ahhhhhhhh!

Amy Sebring: But when the sun goes down can be almost as nice:


And to finish off that warm, relaxing day, some cool refreshment. (Your system will need to be configured to play .wav files for this next one.) It will take a moment to load then hit play


Gil Gibbs: Now, THAT looks familiar!!!.. //haha

BJ Sibley: Amy, you're too cute!!!

Amy Sebring: Before we turn you loose to chat, I would like to conclude this portion, on behalf of Avagene, myself, and all the EIIP partners --- to say, "Students, keep up the good work!" We need you in the profession badly, and please join us anytime here in the Virtual Forum our regular sessions are every week, Tuesdays at 1: 00 PM Eastern for the Round Table, and Wednesdays at 12: 00 noon Eastern for our main weekly session.

Thank you for coming today, and please take this opportunity to introduce yourself, and to talk with the folks who are here.