Prevention is better than cure – and as a country located in a region that is known to experience natural disasters, this maxim should be one that we take to heart. If you are passionate about building a stronger, more resilient Turks and Caicos even in the face of crisis, then continue reading because a career in Crisis and Disaster Management may be for you.
What is Crisis and Disaster Management?
Although we are considering this as one field, it can be broken down into crisis management and disaster management for the purpose of defining it.
Crisis management is the process of preparing for and managing any disruptive or unexpected emergency situations.
Disaster Management can be defined as the organisation and management of resources and responsibilities for dealing with all humanitarian aspects of emergencies. It is concerned with the process by which we prepare for, respond to and learn from disasters.
Crisis vs Disaster: A disaster is a “sudden accident or a natural catastrophe that causes great damage or loss of life”, while a crisis is a “time of intense difficulty or danger” or “a time when a difficult or important decision must be made”. – Oxford Dictionary
Careers in Crisis and Disaster Management
It is worth understanding that when taken as two separate fields, there can still be some overlap in duties and functions. Whereas, when taken together, it results in a very broad field. Furthermore, careers in this field can specifically pertain to the private sector level or to a national level.
Below is a non-exhaustive list of careers that fall under Crisis and Disaster Management:
- Emergency management director – work directly with law enforcement in a crisis situation that calls for the assistance or support of first responders and any other emergency officials.
- Insurance and Reinsurance broker – use knowledge of risks and the insurance market to find and arrange suitable insurance policies and arrange cover for clients while reinsurance brokers arrange cover for insurance companies in order to spread risk.
- Risk analysis officer – help to identify and manage potential problems that could undermine key business initiatives or projects and examine how project outcomes might change due to the impacts of risk events.
- Hazard mitigation officer – take steps to help reduce or eliminate long-term risks caused by hazards or disasters, such as hurricanes, flooding, earthquakes and wildfires.
- Firefighter – respond to emergency situations and protect people, the environment and property from all types of accidents and emergencies, particularly concerning fires.
- Emergency logistics coordinator – ensure that organisations or groups have necessary supplies in the face of emergencies and disaster in a quick and efficient manner.
- Business continuity manager – perform business impact analysis and risk evaluations to project the effect of disasters and such financially disruptive events like computer errors. They work out strategies for continuity of the business during these events and perform risk assessment tests to judge the continued effectiveness of the safeguards.
- Public relations specialist/Crisis communication specialist – help organisations to manage their reputation and appearance across all modes of communication during and after a crisis.
- Emergency response officer – first line of response in emergency situations whether in regards to ambulance support or law enforcement.
For the sake of brevity, we cannot mention every career in this field and so some honourable mentions are paramedics, fire inspector/investigator and law enforcement officers. There are also some careers that are not technically considered as being in the crisis and disaster management field, but do relate to it in some aspects such as lifeguards, meteorologists, building/architectural engineers and infectious disease management officers.
From the list above, it is clear that the careers in this field vary considerably and so will the requirements depending on which career you choose. For a more general path, you may choose to study a degree in disaster management at bachelor’s level. From here, you have the option of specialising via a master’s degree or beginning your career. Some master’s courses don’t require that you study a specific course at bachelor’s level, instead, it is sometimes possible for you to transfer experience to your course. There are also master’s degree courses in disaster management which provide more in-depth studies in the field.
Other academic options that provide a more focused approach include degrees in environmental science, geography, and climatology. For a career in insurance, you may need a degree in an area like accounting or economics and a degree in business for a career as a business continuity manager. As it relates to becoming a firefighter, while there is no universal academic requirement, you would have to be in good physical shape to be able to perform the normal tasks in this career.
Other skills and attributes that would benefit you in this field include:
- Problem solving skills
- Good people skills
- Decision making skills
- Having a good work ethic
- Positive attitude
- Being intrinsically motivated
- Procurement skills (relevant to the emergency logistics position)
This field requires flexibility and sometimes empathy as, depending on which role you pursue, you may find yourself working with vulnerable people who may be experiencing some sort of trauma linked to disaster. You may also likely be required to learn safety protocols of either your place of employment and/or clients.
How to Stand Out
There are many options when it comes to certifications for crisis and disaster management which can complement your degree and set you apart on the job. Some of these are certifications in crisis management, disaster management, emergency management, CPR and first aid. It may also be helpful for you to know how to swim for some of the career options and become knowledgeable in different emergency response systems.
Get Hands-On Experience
Work experience is always an excellent way to set yourself apart which is why volunteering is something we highly suggest. The TCI Red Cross, particularly, provides volunteering opportunities in disaster management and other areas as well as training in CPR and AED. Click here to find out more about their volunteering opportunities.
There are a host of insurance companies throughout the islands that may be prepared to offer internship/work experience opportunities if you enquire. You can find a list of some of these companies here.
Lastly, the Turks and Caicos Government has a Department of Disaster Management and Emergencies (DDME) which focuses on preparing the population for disasters and hazards of various types and reducing the risk of disasters in the country. DDME also provides volunteering opportunities which can be found here but you are still free to contact them to enquire about formal internship opportunities.
While it is difficult to get practice in this field at home, you can have a look at the videos below that speak on the importance of proper disaster management and break down the steps involved.
Fun fact – Hurricanes can unleash 2.4 trillion gallons of rain in a day!