AMU Emergency Management Opinion Public Safety

Emergency Management & Training Go Hand in Hand

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For those who respond to emergencies on a regular basis, the idea of training often is something that is drilled into their minds. Emergencies happen in a variety of different ways. While it is important to train in different scenarios, it can be hard to train in for of the different emergency scenarios.


Lifeguarding is a tremendous area of emergency management. Lifeguards are trained in water parks, lakes, oceans and pools, with the training focusing on different aspects of an emergency based on the type of involvement with swimmers.

Some areas of emergency management do not have a lot of emergencies, as it is just the nature of the activity.  Lifeguards may have many small-scale emergencies — pulling young swimmers out of the water — but larger emergencies — where someone actually drowns — may not happen too often.

With that in mind, it is important to train often, because emergency responders need to have a frame of reference for handling major emergencies. Without this frame of reference, it can be difficult for them to effectively handle emergencies.

Recent drowning incident

CBS News recently [link url=”” title=”reported”] that a 33 year old man recently drowned at a Wild Waves Theme Park in Federal Way, WA. Bystanders said that the lifeguards tried to figure out what to do in the midst of the emergency. The scenario was likely horrifying to bystanders, but was probably terrible for the lifeguards to work, especially if they didn’t have a good frame of reference for how to handle the emergency.

Why training is needed

Emergency responders in all lines of work must train for emergency scenarios on a regular basis. When emergency responders train on a regular basis, they’re working through the motions of what they need to do in a disaster. They’re contemplating what needs to happen first, and so on. Thus, when fear kicks in during an emergency, the responder can fall back on their training and go through the motions. It is an integral part of managing an emergency to keep things from getting worse.

Ultimately, it can be very concerning to have to deal with an emergency – especially an emergency where an individual has died or has suffered cardiac arrest. This is why it is imperative for emergency responders to train often in a multitude of emergency scenarios so they have an idea of how to handle themselves during an emergency.

Lifeguards are just another component in emergency management, and, therefore, it is critical for them to train often to build a positive frame of reference for handling medical and traumatic emergencies.

Allison G. S. Knox teaches in the fire science and emergency management departments at American Military University and American Public University. Focusing on emergency management and emergency medical services policy, she often writes and advocates about these issues. Allison serves as the At-Large Director of the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians, Secretary & Chair of the TEMS Committee with the International Public Safety Association and as Chancellor of the Southeast Region on the Board of Trustees with Pi Gamma Mu International Honor Society in Social Sciences. Prior to teaching, she worked for a Member of Congress in Washington, D.C. and in a Level One trauma center emergency department. Passionate about the policy issues surrounding emergency management and emergency medical services, Allison often researches, writes and advocates about these issues. Allison is an emergency medical technician and holds four master’s degrees.

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