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Prof: Emergency management role broadens

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Elizabeth City State University professor Kevin Kupietz talks to the Elizabeth City Morning Rotary Club about the university's new degree program in emergency management at The Pines of Elizabeth City, Friday.

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By Reggie Ponder
Staff Writer

Saturday, February 9, 2019

An Elizabeth City State University professor says the university’s new degree program in emergency management prepares students for careers in a variety of fields as the role of emergency management becomes broader.

Emergency management is not just a career specialization for firefighters and emergency medical personnel, Kevin Kupietz, ECSU professor of emergency management, told members of the Elizabeth City Morning Rotary Club on Friday.

Rather, emergency management now is similar to what “safety” was a few years ago as companies become more conscious of the importance of workplace safety, he said.

“Emergency management is not just a governmental function anymore,” Kupietz said.

Emergency management is increasingly being integrated into everyday life, he added, and classes in emergency management at ECSU stress that point to students.

For instance, students in sports management often take emergency management classes. They’re advised, he said, to consider the need to prepare for an emergency that erupts during a sporting event.

Being prepared for an emergency also involves many things you might not think about, Kupietz said, mentioning that many people trying to evacuate from Florida in response to Hurricane Irma became stranded because their cars ran out of fuel.

Workplaces increasingly understand the need for emergency readiness, which encompasses some of the traditional safety concerns but also includes a comprehensive approach to preparing for emergencies, Kupietz explained. Workplaces need someone with knowledge of emergency management practices even if it’s not their main job, he said.

Kupietz told Rotarians that ECSU’s program is of one only two four-year degree programs in the state in emergency management. The other is at Western Carolina University.

One reason the emergency management program is at ECSU is to promote diversity in the field. The leadership in emergency services and emergency management has tended to be white and male, Kupietz said.

Kupietz said the university is looking for students who are passionate about public safety. He said he loves helping keeping people safe and wants students who also will love what they do.

Kupietz also mentioned that ECSU has established a Community Emergency Response Team that now includes about 16 students, faculty and staff. The team is being trained in a range of emergency response skills including CPR and basic water rescue.

“This group is learning how to be prepared and how to teach others to be prepared,” Kupietz said.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency started CERT after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Kupietz said the university has been awarded a $152,000 grant to introduce middle school students to STEM disciplines within the context of emergency management. In addition, ECSU is applying for a grant to study supply chains and their impact on business resiliency in the wake of a disaster.

Kupietz explained that even if businesses make all the right preparations and are ready to get back to work once an emergency is over, they still depend on being able to receive supplies. They could be harmed by a breakdown in their supply chain if trucks, for example, weren’t able to reach them.

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