Emergency Management Institute
“A 59-Year Legacy of Training and Education in Emergency Management”
In 1979, President Jimmy Carter formed the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) by consolidating several government organizations. That same year Congress appropriated funds to transfer the Civil Defense Staff College (CDSC) and United States Fire Administration (USFA) and National Fire Academy (NFA) into FEMA.
The Civil Defense Program (CDP) had been established in 1947 under the Department of Defense. Training was first offered under this authority in the spring of 1951 at three federal facilities. In 1954, CDSC was founded in Battle Creek, Michigan, as a national adult resident training center under CDP to administer the civil defense training program. At the time of transfer to FEMA, the CDSC was re-designated as the Emergency Management Institute (EMI) to reflect its new and significantly broader mission to train and educate the nation’s emergency management community.
In June of 1809, Elizabeth Bayley Seton (later canonized as the first American Saint) had arrived in Emmitsburg, Maryland, and established the first parochial school for girls in the United States. Over the years, that school grew to include Saint Joseph College, a four-year liberal arts college for women. In 1973, Saint Joseph College closed its doors and merged its students and faculty with Mount Saint Mary’s University, formerly a liberal arts men’s college located two miles south on highway U.S. 15.
Saint Joseph College facilities were purchased by FEMA in 1979 with funding from Congress for the specific purpose of housing EMI, USFA, and NFA in suitable facilities. Since 1979, EMI continues to share the 107-acre campus with USFA and NFA. Collectively the campus is designated the National Emergency Training Center (NETC). CDSC funded its move and the major renovation needed to open required buildings for EMI on this campus. During transition, EMI held classes in temporary facilities until its renovations were completed and officially opened its doors on the new campus in early 1981. Additionally, major upgrades to the NETC campus occurred from 1991 through 1995 from Congressional appropriations.
EMI and NFA are managed independently with unique student audiences and curricula for the emergency management and national fire communities. EMI and NFA have collaborated on curricula and programs since their inception.
Today EMI is accomplishing its mission of improving the competencies of United States officials at all levels of government to prevent, prepare for, respond to and recover from, and mitigate the potential effects of disasters and emergencies. EMI promotes integrated emergency management principles and practices through application of the National Response Framework, National Incident Management System, and an all hazards approach. EMI is the lead national emergency management training, exercising, and education institution.
EMI offers a full spectrum emergency management curriculum with more than 400 courses available to the integrated emergency management community, which includes: FEMA staff and disaster employees; Federal partners; State, Tribal, and local emergency managers; volunteer organizations; and first responders from across the Nation. EMI supports international emergency management with more than 50 countries participating in EMI’s training and educational activities through the years, both in residence and through internationally deployed training teams.
EMI also enjoys close relations with several nationally recognized professional emergency management and related organizations and has interfaced with them through training, conferences, and exercises. Some of these significant organizations include the International Association of Emergency Managers (IAEM), National Emergency Management Association (NEMA), Association of State Flood Plain Managers (ASFPM), American Public Works Association (APWA), American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), and American Society of Engineering Management (ASEM). EMI is fully accredited by the International Association for Continuing Education and Training (IACET) and the American Council on Education (ACE). In 1997, EMI was awarded the W. Edwards Deming Outstanding Training Award by the United States Department of Agriculture Graduate School at the Excellence in Government Conference. This annual award is presented to an organization for an impressive workforce development and training initiative that has measurably improved their organization’s performance.
In 2007, EMI delivered 514 resident courses at the NETC campus training 14,565 individual students. The EMI Independent Study (IS) Program, a Web-based distance learning program open to the public, delivered extensive online training from 62 courses and trained more than 2.8 million individuals. The EMI IS Web site receives 2.5 to 3 million visitors a day. Nineteen new courses were added to the curriculum this past year alone. EMI has provided technical support to dozens of other Federal government agencies and State offices on advanced distributed learning technology development and application. The IS program also hosts training for related Federal agencies.
A vital asset to FEMA’s disaster operations is the Disaster Field Training Operation (DFTO), implemented by EMI. In 2007 alone, the DFTO trained 24,950 disaster response employees and volunteers directly at disaster sites throughout the United States.
EMI conducts three national level conferences. The Institute is the host to the National Preparedness Annual Training and Exercise Conference held in May and attended by Regional Training Managers, State Training Officers and Exercise Training Officers, State Administrative Authority Officials, and subject matter experts from a broad sector of the preparedness community. The EMI Higher Education Conference is held the first week in June for more than 300 college and university officials with current or developing programs in emergency management and hosts up to 70 separate discussion groups. The Dam Safety Conference held in February is attended by dam safety officials, hydrologists, engineers, and reclamation officials.