Professionalism, Accountability, Best Practices, and Ethics in Emergency Management

Just as other professional fields, as a discipline, science based profession emergency management practitioners need the use of bodies of knowledge generated by others. The management of specific environmental threats is a responsibility of the state of technology, which is a function of the state of knowledge in a variety of scientific disciplines. For example, the state of knowledge in seismology does not currently provide a forecasting technology capable of supporting preempt evacuation from earthquakes in the way that meteorological forecasting supports preempt hurricane evacuations. Therefore, Professionalism, Accountability, Best Practices, and Ethics in Emergency Management is very vital.

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Asserting control over the professional body and its dissemination is a standardized practice that is achieved through the establishment of certifications of specialized training in academic degrees or even higher than just a degree in the various colleges as well as the universities. For example we have the IAEM and FEMA Higher Education Project bodies that are in need in the move towards attaining the prominent actors. The process of training and credentialing is perhaps the strongest public indicator to set emergency management apart as a profession. All professions have specific principles but training is common across all the professions. A body of professional knowledge needs to be under control. To be able to do this, boundaries must be drawn regarding what information lies within it and, consequently what are the essential elements of training and education. Thus, the first step in taking control of a body of knowledge is the presence of legitimate associations and organizations to define it. The FEMA Higher Education Project has already begun the process of examining how an accreditation system might be developed for academic degree programs. Until an accrediting body is officially established, the Higher Education Project has undertaken programmatic activity to establish a direction for specifying the emergency management body of knowledge.

Accountability refers to means by which power is used responsibly by the parties concerned. Emergency management practitioners should be accountable in the various activities that aid in helping the victims in times of emergencies. Accountability increases trust and communication between emergency managers and the communities where the emergency management practitioners work. Accountability increases transparency, reduces target errors, ensures flow of information and respect.The following are some of the commonly used methods in ensuring accountability.

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Setting standards and building capacity- this is done through the establishment of laws and regulations to govern the activities, conduct and operations of the practitioners. The laws and authorities element must address the legislation, regulations, directives, and industry standards that authorize the emergency management program. It is therefore the responsibilities of each and every personnel in the field to abide by the set rules and regulations of the employing body. In the laws stipulated, there are also an outline of the required standards that is due to each personnel in the field of emergency management. The building capacity on the other hand outlines the requirements or the precautionary conditions that are aimed at preventing most disastrous emergencies from occurring. The emergency managers are therefore accountable to the public safety. They do not only manage the emergencies but also engage in one to one precautionary talk on how best the emergency victims can stay safe. The practitioners therefore do the Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment element which must identify the hazards to which the entity is exposed, the probability of extreme events that would adversely affect the entity, and the potential physical and social consequences of those events. The Hazard Mitigation element requires the entity to develop a strategy to eliminate the hazards or to limit their consequences. The Resource Management element requires the entity to identify the resources personnel, facilities, equipment, materials and supplies, and money that are needed by the emergency management program, inventory the resources that are currently available, and define the resulting shortfall and eventually the solution.

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Monitoring and reporting on compliance is the self-assessment that requires the applicant to examine its emergency management program and to provide a proof of compliance record for each of the EMAP standards. The proof of compliance record asks the applicant to identify the written documentation, interview sources, or observations on which the claim of compliance is based. In addition, the applicant is asked to explain how the documentation, interviews, or observations support the claim of compliance. In the case of written documentation, the proof of compliance record must be accompanied by a copy of a relevant document or guidance in locating a copy of that document. Equivalent documentation is required for interviews or observations. Going through with this whole procedure shows some measurable elements of accountability shown by the emergency managers as well as the emergency victims.

The values proposed by IAEMA in the code of conduct for the emergency managers are very vital. The IAEM is an organization that promotes professionalism aimed at attaining public confidence in emergency management. This body is founded on education, safety and protection of life as well as property. The following are among others, some of the basic values emphasized by IAEM:

Professionalism – IAEM ensures that the emergency managers have the confidence in effecting their emergency management duties. The primary objective is to provide standards to enhance professional management and technical capabilities aiding at recruitment of qualified personnel. This value of professionalism is important since it ensures that the practitioners have the adequate required and relevant knowledge and skills required for the job. This is achieved through the training in the various recommended course duties I emergency management. IAEM’s center vision is to realize the most prominent, accountable actors as its products in the field of emergency management. Professionalism is the core value that would ensure that the right people do the job thus ensuring ethical measures.

The employees of IAEM are all committed to treating those whom they serve and their colleagues with fairness, dignity, respect and concern. Treatment with respect and due consideration is not important to emergency victims but it is also their right. The employees are therefore committed to understanding unique sensitivities of diverse groups and members of the community. IAEM’s personnel treat their federal, state tribal and local government and private sector partners with the dignity each partner deserves. They not only do this because it is right but also because it creates sustainable work relationships and environment which effectively improve every partner’s capacity to meet the needs of emergency victims.

In dealing with individuals and communities that have been affected by disaster, empathy and compassion are essential qualities that must be used in preparedness, response and recovery. IAEM must therefore ensure this. For example, it should focus on the needs of all members of a community, especially those who may have special requirements and those who are most disadvantaged by the incident. The body’s primary responsibility should be to support state, tribal and local partners in caring for all those affected by disaster or any kind of emergency worth managing and to conduct this support with much patience, understanding as well as respect.

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