In most fields, basic training is part of the learning process. Fire, law enforcement, the military, and other disciplines have training academies for building competencies and testing new recruits. An exception to these types of requirements is the field of emergency management. Some emergency managers come from other fields such as fire and law enforcement, while others come straight from college with no boots-on-the-ground experience. This discrepancy leaves a learning gap that the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) is seeking to fill. 

Learn about a new training academy model that will prepare prospective employees for the emergency management field. 

A new recruiting strategy that TDEM is implementing includes putting prospective candidates through a 32-week training academy that is being created for the purpose of better preparing emergency preparedness professionals to fill various roles in emergency management. Unique to this program is its integration of emergency medical services and basic woodland firefighting to equip emergency managers with additional skills that can be used during emergency and disaster response efforts. 

The academy course schedule will include a mixture of classroom and hands-on training and will be broken into 10 modules: 

  1. Personal Development 

  1. Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) 

  1. Foundations of Emergency Management 

  1. Pre-Disaster Hazard Mitigation 

  1. Preparedness 

  1. Response 

  1. Disaster Recovery Task Force 

  1. Recovery  

  1. Post Disaster Hazardous Mitigation 

  2. Capstone 

The first academy class is expected to begin in August 2022 with 24 students comprised of high school graduates, college graduates, military veterans, and those changing careers. At the end of the 32-week academy training, graduates will receive a certificate for completing the National Emergency Management Basic Academy (NEMBA), will have completed the FEMA Professional Development Series (PDS) and the FEMA Advanced Professional Series (APS), and will be certified as EMTs. 

The success of the first academy cohort in August 2022 in San Antonio will set the stage for the next steps. Although the first cohort will be specifically for potential TDEM employees, Chief Nim Kidd is looking to open the program to other agencies and jurisdictions in Texas and beyond.  

Emergency management degree programs provide a lot of great information but do not provide the real-world experiences and hands-on training that the new academy will offer. When a graduate has the street credibility of EMT and wildland fire experience, they will be better prepared to fill response gaps that frequently exist when deploying to emergencies and disasters. By creating a curriculum to standardize the training of new recruits, TDEM is providing a new pathway to emergency management. 

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David Covington

David Covington currently serves as the Emergency Management Academy Director at the Texas Division of Emergency Management. He is a Schertz Fire Rescue Chief Emeritus and previously served as training chief at the San Antonio Fire Department to lead development of the program and curriculum. In addition to his fire service, he served as a master instructor for the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration

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