03/18/05 — Wayne Community College to offer emergency technology course

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Wayne Community College to offer emergency technology course

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on March 18, 2005 1:50 PM

Wayne Community College will offer a new program in emergency preparedness technology in the fall.

Two classes, Sociology of Disaster and Critical Incident Management, will be offered as part of the program.

The college received approval last month from the state Board of Community Colleges to offer the new program. Criminal justice instructor Barb Russo has developed the curriculum for the program. She said she hopes to fit the program into two years and one summer term. A total of 69 semester hours will be required to complete the program.

"It will not appeal to the average 18-year old who's looking for a major, although some 18-year-olds fit the profile of those it would benefit," said Russo. "It's designed mostly for those who are already working in public services, law enforcement, fire service or emergency medical services. It will help those in the field who are without a degree elevate into management positions."

The program approaches the subject of emergency response from a wholistic perspective, Russo said, focusing on the coordination of the efforts of fire, rescue, law enforcement and other organizations involved in emergency response.

Similar programs started to emerge after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, and some four-year colleges are now offering degrees, even master's degrees, in the field, Russo said. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill offers graduate certificates in community preparedness and disaster management. Western Carolina University was the first four-year university in the state to offer a degree in the program.

The subject field is growing so fast that there are not enough textbooks on the subject, Ms. Russo said. Instructors are having to rely heavily on the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which dictates the standards of response in emergencies.

"Prior to the development of these programs, you had to rely on the experience of the people working in the field," Russo said.

Five other community colleges in North Carolina offer an Associate in Applied Science Degree in Emergency Preparedness Technology: Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute, which shares a program with Catawba and Western Piedmont community colleges, and Durham Technical Community College and Nash Community College, which have stand-alone programs. Most of their programs focus on the firefighting aspects of emergency preparedness.

Wayne Community College is the only community college in the state that will provide the course with an emphasis on law enforcement. Many law enforcement officers, especially in the smaller communities, are also volunteer firefighters or emergency medical technicians, Russo said.

The course work at Wayne Community College will include classroom and laboratory exercises to introduce student to various aspects of emergency preparedness, protection, and enforcement. Students will learn technical and administrative skills such as investigative principles, hazardous materials, codes, standards, emergency agency operations, and finance.

The program will benefit anyone working in the emergency management planning field, Russo said, whether it is on the county and local level, the state level or the federal level. Insurance companies look for people with degrees in emergency preparedness to perform risk management, she pointed out. Private security companies, hospitals and public school administrations also look for employees in the field, she said.