Danielle Cortes DeVito wants to increase African American youth representation in emergency response and at management agencies across the country. Here’s what she proposes.
Studies show that African Americans are disproportionately1 affected by disasters and are underrepresented2 in the emergency response/management workforce. This research poster below displays ways to increase African American youth (16-25 years of age) representation in emergency response/management organizations in order to increase cultural competency and equity in disaster response and recovery.
The research investigates five examples of organizations that have provided African American youth with internships, volunteer opportunities, jobs at COVID-19 mass vaccination centers, undergraduate education, emergency medical services and fire training, and job placement. The examples have been successful at increasing African American youth representation in the emergency management and response career pipelines.
The Black Fire Brigade provided emergency medical technician education to 383 African American youths with 100% job placement in fire departments, emergency rooms, police and sheriff departments.
Key Medical Staffing provided cultural representation at mass vaccination centers by deploying 60 African American youth as wheelchair escorts for vaccine recipients with access and functional needs.
- My Experience As a Black Paramedic
- Advice for EMTs in Paramedic School
- Checklist for Success in EMT/Paramedic School
Many Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) offer preparedness training and are in disaster prone areas. Although only ten HBCUs have emergency response/management related programs, there is a need for a variety of skill sets in the emergency management and response workforce.
AmeriCorps is a National Service program and their diversity, equity and inclusion initiative priorities foster an equitable workforce and work to diversify the recruitment and retaining of a diverse corps. FEMA Corps, AmeriCorps VISTA, AmeriCorps NCCC and local disaster corps are opportunities for African American youth to serve in the emergency response and management field to gain experience, receive a living stipend and gain funds for higher education.
Girl’s Future Firefighter Camp is creating the next generation of female firefighters by providing basic rescue training and fire apparatus familiarization.
Emergency response/management organizations should not limit hiring to emergency management degree recipients but also include African American engineers, attorneys, human resource and communication degree professionals to fill in the essential support functionsin the field and command staff.
Sixty percent of programs in this research are self-funded or received small private donations. Emergency response/management organizations should earmark funds for training African American youth to bring cultural representation and equity to disaster response.
HBCU emergency management professors expressed that their students had difficulty navigating USAJobs.com, AmeriCorps and Red Cross job portals. The students did not have success with job offers despite being in an emergency management degree program. Local, state and federal agencies should conduct recruitment outreach, and provide assistance with resume development and job portal training to accommodate student’s school and work schedules.
Many organizations in the United States are providing emergency preparedness education and training to African American youth and preparing them for the response/management workforce. Emergency response/management organizations should not limit hiring to emergency management degree recipients but also include African American engineers, attorneys, human resource and communication degree professionals to fill in the essential support functions in the field and command staff. Emergency response/management organizations should establish strategic and intentional partnerships with similar programs in their counties and states and commit to hiring African American youth into their agencies.
Considerations for FEMA
Expand the recommendations to include Tribal, Hispanic, Asian and LGBT communities. Emulate United States Department of Homeland Security and Bureau of Indian Affairs diversity recruitment outreach efforts. Host regional USAJobs.com workshops for community based organizations.