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Institute for Rural Emergency Management

Humphreys Building 201D
Warrensburg, MO 64093
Phone: 660.543.4971


History of Crisis and Disaster Management

The Profession of Crisis and Disaster Management

The profession of crisis and disaster management has been undergoing rapid change. The reasons for change are many. The recent exponential increase in the cost of crises and disasters has focused national and international attention on disaster prevention, response, and relief. Recent testimony before the United Nations General Assembly stated those natural disasters alone "cost the world an average $87 billion per annum during the last decade. The cost of disasters in the 1990s has been nine times higher than in the 1960s" (Need, 1999). For this reason, the United Nations General Assembly designated the 1990s as the International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction.

Nationally, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) provides the focus for emergency management activities. FEMA describes the process of crisis and disaster management as a four-stage activity consisting of mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery. FEMA reported that during the five-year period from 1989-1994, "291 presidential disaster declarations were issued. Federal disaster assistance made available to affected States, communities, and individuals cost the U.S. Treasury over $34 billion" (Multihazard, 1997).

Recently, FEMA has increased its assistance for emergency management-related degree programs by creating the Emergency Management Institute (EMI) Higher Education Project. The goal of the EMI Higher Education Project is to support the development of emergency management degrees in all 50 states. According to the EMI Higher Education Project's website, only University of Central Missouri is developing a baccalaureate degree within Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska, the four states of FEMA Region VII (EMI Higher Education Project, 1998).

Within the state of Missouri, the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) coordinates the resources available for crisis and disaster management. SEMA has created emergency plans that address the all-hazards approach to emergency management adopted within the United States during the 1980s (Drabek & Hoetmer, 1991). The all-hazards approach recognizes four classifications of hazards: natural, technological, social, and environmental. In recent years, citizens of Missouri have faced each of these types of hazards, from flooding along Missouris rivers, hazardous materials incidents along transportation corridors, to school safety issues and threats of biological or chemical terrorism. Every county in Missouri except one has had at least one presidential declaration of disaster between 1965 and 1998 (Presidential, 1999). Emergency planning at the local level that includes governmental units and business and industry has been recognized as an essential first step for effective management of crises and disasters.

Persons prepared for service by prior military or emergency service experience, i.e. law enforcement or fire/rescue services, have traditionally filled emergency management positions in each county and numerous municipalities in Missouri. Drabek (1987) noted that the majority of successful emergency managers had active military experience due to the historic relationship between civil defense and emergency management. But Drabek also observed that the military would diminish as an entry path to emergency management positions as civil defense became a lower priority in the post-cold war world. The emergency manager in the Year 2000 will need improved technological skills, especially in the areas of "computer-based information and decision support systems" predicted Drabek in 1987 (p. 251). FEMA has stated "we believe that in the future more and more emergency managers in government as well as in business and industry will come to the job with a college education that includes a degree in emergency management" (EMI Higher Education Project, 1998).

According to Drabek (1987), the emergency manager in the Year 2000 will possess increased professionalism through certification and improved training and education. Several organizations offer certification related to the technical options included in the Crisis and Disaster Management degree proposal. The International Association of Emergency Managers has developed a certification process leading to the Certified Emergency Managers (CEM) designation (IAEM, no date). This certification process requires the candidate to complete an examination, obtain experience in the field, complete a bachelors degree and provides additional credit if the degree is in the field of emergency management. The Institute of Hazardous Materials Management operates a certification process leading to the Certified Hazardous Materials Manager (CHMM) designation (IHMM, no date). The certification process adopted by IHMM includes an examination, review of professional experience, and provides additional credit for coursework related to the management of hazardous materials. The Disaster Recovery Institute, International operates a certification process leading to the Certified Business Continuity Planner (CBCP) designation (DRII, 1999). The certification process adopted by DRII requires experience in the field of business continuity and successful completion of an examination.

CDM Curriculum Development

During 1996, University of Central Missouri was assigned a statewide mission in professional technology. One of the four goals identified in this statewide mission was development of "new degree programs in advanced technologies," especially new programs "that will be articulated with the associate of applied science degree programs offered by the states community colleges" (Missouri Coordinating Board for Higher Education, 1996). In early 1997, in response to the statewide mission, University of Central Missouri called for proposals for new degrees. The Department of Safety Science and Technology presented a proposal for development of a Bachelor of Science degree in Emergency Management and Planning on April 16, 1997. The initial proposal was well received but not funded. The Department of Safety Science and Technology continued to pursue development and a Proposal Advisory Committee was formed to create a formal proposal. Members of the Proposal Advisory Committee included:

This proposal is a result of extensive review of existing degree programs and curricular materials developed by FEMA and other institutions. Model curriculum in emergency management has been based on work conducted by the Florida Resource Center (FRC) in 1996 for St. Petersburg Junior College (Bryant, 1997). FRC utilized the Developing a Curriculum (DACUM) method to identify job tasks performed by expert workers in the field of emergency management. Bryant (1997) validated the FRC DACUM model through research conducted with state and local emergency management professionals. The Proposal Advisory Committee correlated the proposed courses with the competencies identified in the FRC DACUM model (Figure 1). Additionally, Bryant noted the importance of technologic competence; "higher education could provide emergency managers with research concerning the latest technology and how this technology could be utilized by emergency personnel for specific task and on-the-job training" (1997, p. 85).

A draft outline of the proposed degree program including course descriptions was circulated during 1998-99 to attendees at the conferences of the International Association of Emergency Managers, Missouri Emergency Preparedness Association, and the National Fire Protection Association. The Proposal Advisory Committee considered feedback from these sources and incorporated suggested improvements in the final document.

In addition, on February 5, 1999 faculty from the Department of Safety Science and Technology attended a meeting of fire science faculty from Missouri's community colleges hosted by the University of Missouri-Columbia Extension Fire and Rescue Training Institute. The purpose of the meeting was to identify a baccalaureate degree program that would articulate with associate of applied science degrees in fire science across Missouri. Attendees reported that municipalities encourage pursuit of baccalaureate education and often require completion of Bachelor of Science degree for promotion to senior fire service positions. The draft outline was distributed and the fire science educators were unanimous in their support of the degree proposal. The baccalaureate degree program in Crisis and Disaster Management should provide a seamless transition for students transferring an associate of applied science degree in fire science from Missouri's community colleges.

Present at the same meeting were representatives of the International Fire Service Accreditation Congress (IFSAC) Degree Assembly. IFSAC has established an accreditation process for "fire related, postsecondary degree programs" (IFSAC, Article 21.3.1). The representatives of IFSAC indicated that the proposed baccalaureate degree program in Crisis and Disaster Management would be eligible for accreditation under IFSAC Bylaws. IFSAC is the only established accreditation body offering review of baccalaureate degrees in this field.


The field of emergency management has advanced to the level of a profession in the past twenty years. Most positions within government and industry require a baccalaureate degree for initial placement and professional certification for career advancement. With the increasing availability of emergency-related degree programs, preference is often given to candidates possessing a degree in this field.

University of Central Missouri, through the Department of Safety Science and Technology, has offered undergraduate and graduate courses that have prepared students to serve the citizens of Missouri in the public and private sector. The baccalaureate degree program in Crisis and Disaster Management is a logical extension of the curriculum offered by the Department of Safety Science and Technology, and utilizes the strength of existing contacts between the department and the emergency response community. Finally, this degree program addresses the need within the state of Missouri for technically educated emergency management professionals.


Bryant, K.J. (1997). A study of the relationship between competencies or tasks and their frequency of performance as required by emergency administration and management (Doctoral thesis, The Pennsylvania State University, 1997). Ann Arbor: UMI Microform 9802594.

Disaster Recovery Institute, International (DRII). (1999, July 19). Professional certification. (1999, November 27).

Drabek, T. E. (1987). The professional emergency manager: Structures and strategies for success [Monograph]. University of Colorado, Institute of Behavioral Science, Program on Environment and Behavior, 44 (Whole No. 1).

Drabek, T.E., & Hoetmer, G. (1991 ). Emergency management: Practice and principle. Washington, D. C.: ICMA.

EMI Higher Education Project. (1998, October 12). Federal Emergency Management Agency, Emergency Management Institute. (1999, November 26).

International Fire Service Accreditation Congress. (1998). International Fire Service Accreditation Congress Handbook, (6th ed.). Stillwater, OK: Author.

Institute of Hazardous Materials Management (IHMM). (No date). Levels of certification and summary of requirements. (1999, November 27).

International Association of Emergency Managers (IAEM). (No date). Professional certification. (1999, November 27).

Missouri Coordinating Board for Higher Education. (1996, October 10). Agenda item summary: Programmatic initiatives related to University of Central Missouris mission enhancement plan for FY 1998. Jefferson City, MO: Author.

Multihazard identification and risk assessment: A cornerstone of the national mitigation strategy. (1997). Washington, D.C.: Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Need for effective emergency disaster-response capability stressed as assembly weighs humanitarian, disaster-relief assistance. (1999, November 19). New York: United Nations General Assembly Press Release GA/9663. (1999, November 26).

Presidential disaster declarations, FEMA region VII. (1999). Michael Baker Jr., Inc. (1999, November 27).