A community, especially a rural community, needs to have a full time rural emergency manager. A full time rural emergency manager will ensure that ultimate preparedness objectives are being attempted for the community.


Having a full time rural emergency manager for a small community doesn’t have to be an expensive endeavor, either. A community can appoint a full time emergency manager as a full time volunteer. In some cases, the emergency manager might have to be classified as a part time emergency manager pending the laws of the area however, the person can still fully focus on emergency management activities to be the full time rural emergency manager for the community. The point of this article is that a community emergency manager needs to be a full time rural emergency manager focusing on emergency management completely rather than have other community-related jobs as well.


Full Time Rural Emergency Manager

Photo Credit:
Roxie Hutchison


Full Time Rural Emergency Manager: Own Department

The best possible option for initializing a full time rural emergency manager in a rural community is to create an emergency management department for the community. The emergency management department can be much like that of a volunteer fire department. The full time rural emergency manager will run the department and take lead on lead emergency management operations and activities for the community. The department can employ volunteer personnel who are trained in various aspects that are helpful to emergency management in the community such as amateur radio emergency services, communications, search and rescue, incident management and the works. This is the best option for rural emergency management because its own department will specifically focus on emergency management and get more objectives completed in the long run.


TIP: Starting a volunteer emergency management agency isn’t a hard task. First, the state and community must approve the agency creation. A full time rural emergency manager should then be established. Objectives and a scope for the agency should be created. Volunteers should be found and sworn into the organization. Facilities, equipment, vehicles and other costly items are not always required and can be eventually gained through grant writing and budgeting sources. Start small and gradually grow the emergency management department with time.


Full Time Rural Emergency Manager: Other Department

Some communities group the full time rural emergency manager with another department because it is often easier and cheaper to do. This is not a bad way of doing it as long as the full time rural emergency manager is actually focusing on rural emergency management on a full time basis. Assigning the fire chief or police chief the position of emergency manager as well is a bad idea because there is a conflicting focus present. The fire chief is likely going to put fire department administration over emergency management objectives at most times. The same with the police chief and police department administration. The emergency manager can be integrated with another department but should have complete focus on emergency management activities and operations with that department. Emergency management is not exactly an optional objective, it is very important for the successful continuity of a community and it needs to be treated that way as well.


TIP: Retaining volunteer personnel for the full time rural emergency manager position or other positions within emergency management is not that difficult. The volunteer personnel need to see a benefit in becoming a volunteer. Getting a chance to help their community and protect others will likely be a huge success in retaining volunteer personnel. However, giving volunteer personnel an official sense may also provide to be helpful including providing an official emergency management vehicle, providing uniform polo shirts with the agency name on them and organizing the department will often help keep people interested in volunteering with the department.


The Full Time Rural Emergency Manager is Not an Add-On Job

If a rural community truly wants a successful emergency management result for the community, a full time rural emergency manager should actually be a full time rural emergency manager and not just an extra job of some other community official. Emergency management is a dedicated field. This is why many communities have a dedicated emergency management department this is why universities and colleges offer degrees specifically in emergency management. Opting out from having an emergency management department is usually fine because the county can assume the responsibility however a community that does this should expect full attention from the county since they are usually overwhelmed with other communities as well. However, communities should really have their own emergency management department even if it is very small, having their own department will critically add a successful result to the Whole Community approach of National Preparedness in America.


TIP: There are major differences between emergency management, fire department and police department objectives and personnel. Police departments are responsible for law enforcement and the safety and security of a community. Fire departments in rural communities are often responsible for fire prevention and protection as well as first responder and basic medical emergency activities. Emergency management is responsible for activities before, during and after crisis-related events in terms of preparedness, mitigation, response and recovery whether the event is an act of terrorism to a hurricane making landfall. However, all three departments must coordinate, collaborate, cooperate and communicate within one and other in a planned and organized manner for emergency management to truly be successful in the end.


What do you think about a Full Time Rural Emergency Manager?

Do you find that a full time rural emergency manager is needed even for the smallest of rural communities? What other innovative ways can you think of to make having a full time rural emergency manager possible for every rural established community in America? Please comment below with your thoughts, ideas, opinions and questions about full time rural emergency manager positions and activities.


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This article was written by Shawn Joseph Gossman. Shawn is professional in rural emergency management and rural business continuity. Shawn is professionally certified in emergency management, holds a Master of Science in Emergency Management and Public Health and has various experience in rural emergency management situations. Shawn is passionate about his lifelong focus on improving rural emergency management and rural business continuity.

About the Author

Shawn J. Gossman
Shawn J. GossmanB.S., M.S., M.B.A., SEM, PDS
Shawn J. Gossman is an article and publication contributor of rural and remote-based emergency management, continuity and public health topics. Shawn holds a Master of Science concentrating in Emergency Management and a MBA in Hazardous Environment Logistics and Supply Chain Management. Shawn is dedicated to helping rural communities and organizations be a part of the Whole Community approach of National Preparedness.