When a disaster occurs, most people run away from the site, while others run toward it. If your mindset places you in the latter category, then you are likely to do well in the public safety and emergency management field. This is a challenging and emotionally draining line of work, but for the resilient individuals who choose this career, the opportunity to save lives and mitigate risks to the community is well worth it. There are a number of qualities you should have if you intend to pursue a career in public safety and emergency management, including the following characteristics.
You stay calm under pressure.
This is arguably the most important quality for emergency management specialists. Whether you are responding to a natural disaster, car wreck, man-made environmental disaster, epidemic or terrorist attack, you need to push aside emotional stress and stay calm. Coolness under pressure is important because it allows you to think on your feet, and to develop appropriate response plans to the situation. Calmness in the midst of a disaster is also reassuring to your team and to the people you are trying to help.
You are able to analyze situations objectively.
Critical thinking skills and objective analysis go hand in hand with staying calm under pressure. Your emotions may be leading you toward one course of action, but you need to take a step back and analyze the situation objectively to figure out if it is truly the most appropriate path. For every possible response, you must consider the potential consequences, including the best case and worst case scenarios.
Your communication skills are excellent.
Once you have thoroughly analyzed the situation and decided on the best response plan, you should be capable of clearly and decisively giving directions. You will need to delegate tasks to the people or teams that are most capable of getting those tasks accomplished. Excellent communication skills include the ability to actively listen to others and consider feedback in an open-minded way. Effective leaders are receptive to new ideas, and they are quick to adapt to new strategies when the old ones are not working.
You do not shy away from taking responsibility and learning from your mistakes.
Perhaps the most underrated quality of an effective public safety and emergency management specialist is the capacity to accept responsibility and move forward. It is inevitable that you will make mistakes and, sometimes, your mistakes can be costly. Good leaders never pass the buck. They acknowledge their mistakes, analyze what went wrong and identify the solution they should have used instead so that they avoid making the same mistake in the future. And then, they move on to the next challenge.
The Colangelo College of Business is accepting applicants for our Bachelor of Science in Public Safety and Emergency Management, which is an ideal degree program for law enforcement, fire protection, emergency medical response and environmental health and safety workers. As part of Grand Canyon University, our business school offers a rigorous academic curriculum within a faith-based setting. Find the Request More Information button at the top of the website to explore our available degree programs.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University.