AMU Emergency Management Fire & EMS Law Enforcement Public Safety

Emergency and Disaster Management Leadership

By Giles Hoback III
Faculty Member, Emergency and Disaster Management at American Military University

In today’s world of planning for all types of threats and hazards, cross-training, and multi-agency responses, the need for educated and experienced emergency management personnel is on the rise. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports a modest growth of 3,900 positions (over a 12% increase) by 2020.[1]  Individuals with a law enforcement or military background should consider this type of position because they have been trained to work in high stress environments, have adaptive critical thinking, teamwork and leadership skills, as well as problem solving and multi-tasking abilities. Individuals with training in logistics, communications, or personnel management also have important skills that would translate well into an emergency management role.

Emergency and disaster management personnel must be ready to deal with a variety of hazards and incidents, both natural and man-made. Formal education in this field has evolved over the last ten years and has become a necessity for those looking to take leadership roles in both government agencies and private sector positions.

Those with prior experience or skill sets needed in this line of work can also use that background to aid them in their education. Prior training and abilities will translate into proficient students with real world experience to draw on as they prepare for their next career transition.

I found that both my law enforcement and fire service experience to be very beneficial in my educational goals within emergency management. The skills and training I brought with me helped me to focus my studies on areas I was interested in and made my interactions with my peers more meaningful. It provided insights into how I could contribute to leadership initiatives within emergency management.

There are many different avenues and levels of emergency management work. During the pursuit of higher education, students can expect to be exposed to and research a wide variety of issues and topics that will better prepare them to transition to serving the public. Courses range from disaster planning to terrorism response, risk management, incident command, and chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive (CBRNE) hazards.

With agencies using an adaptive approach to incident management, the ability to be engaged and flexible while dealing with various components and personnel is critical to success.  I found that my passion for the work and desire for quality training and education came from my drive to provide quality service to those in need. My background allowed me to understand the different components of response and interface with responding agencies more efficiently. I could keep a critical eye on improving the system, while engaging the response and understanding the roles and expectations of those around me.

If you are someone who has a passion for helping others, can think quickly and creatively, and are looking for a challenging and rewarding field, I highly recommend that you to consider contributing your experience to a career in emergency and disaster management. 

About the Author:

Professor Hoback serves as Adjunct Faculty in the School of Public Service and Heath. He has over 20 years experience in public safety and is a retired Lieutenant (O-3) with the U.S. Coast Guard. His experience includes tactical law enforcement, emergency response, incident command, anti-terrorism, narcotics, and homeland security. He has held leadership roles, written training and response plans, is a firefighter with advanced training, and a member of the International Association of Emergency Managers. His passion for serving others is matched only by his passion for training and educating others to do the same. Contact him at or follow on Twitter-@DisasterProf.


[1] 2010 Bureau of Labor Statistics Employment Projections. Employment by occupation. Retrieved from

Leischen Kranick is a Managing Editor at AMU Edge. She has 15 years of experience writing articles and producing podcasts on topics relevant to law enforcement, fire services, emergency management, private security, and national security.

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