Even with 21 years of educating, publishing, training, and consulting to emergency management and public safety constituents, ranging from exploratory students to industry leaders, across the county and across the country, we are often asked, “What is MACEM&PS?”
What does MACEM&PS do? What types of projects does the MACEM&PS staff work on? What is its relationship with Frederick Community College (FCC)? How does MACEM&PS, situated at a community college in western Maryland, serve learners and leaders across the entire nation?
How Did We Get Here?
Our story starts with the founding of FCC. Located in western Maryland, FCC began operations in 1957 as a means to provide affordable and accessible higher education to the residents of its growing region. Its foundational motto, “Avec Progres Marchons En Evant,” translated to “Let’s move Forward With Progress,” guides the institution and its components to present day. In the words of Interim President Thomas Powell, “Responding to community needs is at the forefront of what FCC does and how it centers its teaching and learning.” FCC is a forward-thinking, agile, community oriented, responsive leader in affordable higher education.
In 1999, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) was and had been offering Independent Study (IS) courses to prepare emergency management learners on a variety of technical topics. Historically, many of these courses had been offered in a distance-learning format, allowing learners across the entire United States to capitalize on FEMA’s expert and standardized training. FEMA recognized the need for participants to translate this valuable training into marketable recognized credentials, and as a foundation for further academic credentialing. Through a competitive process, FEMA subcontracted with FCC to accredit its rigorous IS courses and enable them to be converted to college credits. In this manner, FCC launched a mutually beneficial relationship with FEMA, and propelled its reach from the Frederick, Maryland, region to serving learners across the United States.
The FEMA/FCC partnership stimulated an expertise in the field of emergency management within the College. Recognizing the regional need for formalized academic and recognized emergency management credentials, FCC received the approval of the Maryland Higher Education Commission to offer the Associate of Applied Science in Emergency Management degree in 2004. This was the foundation of the Emergency Management Academic Department within FCC. Since then, FCC has responded to regional needs, developed staff expertise and curriculum, and expanded the offerings to include Associate of Applied Science degrees in Fire Service Administration, Police Science, and Criminal Justice. Further, Certificates and Letters of Recognition are awarded to successful completers of a specific series of technical emergency management coursework, including Geographic Information Systems (GIS).
Emergency management is a critical and dynamic societal function. In addition to performing essential responsibilities of preventing, preparing, responding to, and recovering from disruptions and disasters, emergency management leaders must change and adapt to wide-ranging factors that affect their roles and communities. The expertise and efforts required to stay abreast of, and synthesize trends, technology, threats, opportunities, administrative and legislative changes, standards, community needs, and training into their existing infrastructure stretches, strains, and often exceeds emergency management leadership’s abilities.
With its nexus of emergency management expertise and academic credentials, FCC’s Emergency Management Academic Department was uniquely positioned to help emergency management professionals and entities adapt to and incorporate changes stemming from their ever-changing environment. To present day, the FCC emergency management staff straddles both the emergency management and academic realms. Many of the leadership, staff, and adjunct instructors started their careers in emergency management and/or public safety fields, furthered their education and qualifications, and transitioned into higher education administration, teaching, and program management. In their academic capacity, the staff routinely studies academic research, stays abreast of regulatory, administrative, technological changes, and develops and delivers relevant curriculum and training. These characteristics bridge the practical emergency management expertise with academic ethos, skills, and talents. This unique skill set is needed by emergency management entities to help their staff to adapt to changes in order to serve their communities most effectively.
In 2010, FCC extended its emergency management academic expertise beyond the College and into the emergency management industry when it established the Mid-Atlantic Center for Emergency Management (MACEM). The MACEM provided technical emergency management education consultancy through attainment of competitive grants, contracts, and cooperative agreements. Soon after its founding, MACEM began to serve and partner with a variety of industry constituents including local, regional, and national government emergency management organizations to develop and deliver a variety of valuable, timely, and innovative training programs.
A Fusion for the Center
In July 2019, under the leadership of the Executive Director, Mrs. Kathy Francis, MACEM expanded its staff and expertise to include the public safety discipline. The entity emerged as the Mid-Atlantic Center for Emergency Management & Public Safety (MACEM&PS) with five academic disciplines: Criminal Justice, Emergency Management, Fire Service Administration, Geographic Information Systems, and Police Science. The combination of these disciplines reflects the national goal of integrated emergency management—a principle linking all public safety fields through the interconnecting elements of preparing, protecting, and assisting the public during emergencies, and maintaining an effective justice system within society. Continued efforts to develop public safety program pathways and descriptive materials provide additional opportunities to reflect—and inform our students and clients of—this integrated public safety philosophy.
The mission of the MACEM&PS is to provide academic and career credentials, professional services, and community engagement in Criminal Justice, Emergency Management, Fire Service Administration, Police Science, and Geographic Information Systems. It serves as a resource to connect, secure, and prepare both virtual and physical environments. Guided by the ideals of equity and justice, the MACEM&PS provides education, training, and professional services to meet the challenges of developing a safe, prepared, and resilient community, state, and nation. With the strength of a fully accredited academic institution, exceptional relationships with state agencies, and the validation of long-standing federal contract partners and consultants, the MACEM&PS excels at developing and delivering meaningful and relevant homeland security courseware at local, state, and national levels using cutting-edge learning technologies, and producing documented return on investment for its clients.
The MACEM&PS is proud to serve our nation’s public safety and emergency management learners, who are as varied as the projects we deliver. Learners range from inquisitive entry-level career explorers, individuals seeking a career change, and experienced personnel looking to advance skills for promotion to leadership, honing personal skills or seeking support for their organizations. Our distance learning enables us to serve learners across the United States. The number of FEMA employees, veterans, and academics that have graduated from our program is noteworthy. Routinely, this program serves an adult population of career changers who already have earned baccalaureate, master, and even doctoral degrees. Our learner population is varied, diverse, and always impressive.
Projects of the Past
The FCC founding principle of providing affordable higher education has been furthered by the MACEM&PS through its commitment to Open Educational Resources (OER). Traditional textbook expenses are often a barrier to higher education. To level this obstacle, organizations have committed to digitizing and opening access to textbooks and educational resources via the internet. The Maryland Open Source Textbook (M.O.S.T.) initiative offers a Faculty OER Mini-Grant Program, designed to support “faculty efforts to increase access, affordability, and achievement for students… through the incorporation of OER into teaching practice” https://www.oer-maryland.org/). In 2019, the MACEM&PS applied for and was granted an award from M.O.S.T. to adapt emergency management course materials from textbook to no cost OER.
With its M.O.S.T. award, the MACEM&PS collaborated with staff and adjuncts from the Emergency Management Institute to accomplish its goal of implementing OER. These individuals were tasked with investigating, vetting, and developing relevant educational materials for the delivery of foundational emergency management curriculum. The MACEM&PS accomplished this effort by adapting the Emergency Management Certificate and Track 1 degree programs with free resources, making it accessible to anyone with access to the internet. The MACEM&PS also revamped the EM101 coursework for traditional students to low or no cost materials. These efforts underscore the Center’s commitment to making course materials accessible and affordable.
Affirming/Validating our competency/expertise, the MACEM&PS has been awarded three federal grants from the Department of Homeland Security FEMA National Training and Education Division (NTED). Each of these grants was awarded through competitive grant processes with durations of three years in length and amounts over $1 million dollars apiece. The first grant, awarded in 2012, trusted the MACEM&PS to develop and deliver an online training program concerning Complex Attacks’ Situational Awareness and Response (CASAR). CASAR’s target audience was experienced emergency management professionals who sought to hone their awareness and skills on multi-layered attacks. Coursework encompassed historical and contemporary knowledge about the nature of complex attacks, critical thinking skills, understanding federal regulations, national policies, doctrines and priorities, and tenets of risk management. High-level communication skills training was conveyed to prioritize available information to discern an imminent, or realize the existence of, a complex attack. The MACEM&PS proudly delivered CASAR to 554 participants.
A companion course, Situation Assessment for Complex Attacks (SAFCA) was developed and delivered via an online platform to 250 participants. This course mirrored CASAR, but was modified to address a line-level public safety supervisor audience. It provided an education and training event for emergency sector first-line supervisors to recognize, report, and take appropriate actions for complex attacks.
The second FEMA NTED grant awarded $1.17 million dollars to the MACEM&PS at FCC to develop and deliver a valuable course on Maturing Public-Private Partnerships beginning in 2017. Public-Private Partnerships (P3s) are those alliances among private sector organizations and public entities for the prevention, preparedness, mitigation, response, and recovery of emergency incidents for the benefit of the community. Coursework topics included the historic foundations of P3s, elements of success and obstacles in partnering, methods to align interests and outcomes, and leveraging collaborations and communications. Further, procedures to build strong pre-incident partnership teams, share situational awareness during events, and share innovative models, as well as legal considerations were addressed to stimulate effective P3s. Participants were stakeholders in their communities’ safety, and spanned emergency management and public safety planners, along with representatives from private sector entities, including for profits, non-profits, and non-governmental organizations. This course was delivered as a two-day workshop at locations across the United States to 721 participants.
In a third FEMA NTED grant, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security awarded a $1,000,000, three-year, cooperative agreement to the MACEM&PS through the FEMA Continuing Training Grant program in 2019. For this grant, the MACEM&PS is finalizing a two-part course on the FEMA Community Lifelines concept. This Community Lifelines, Logistics, and Supply Chain Awareness trains participants in incorporating supply chain techniques to emergency management operations for the restoration of essential community functions of food, water, and shelter, as to mitigate disruption. The first course will be delivered in an engaging online distance-learning format to an anticipated 1,200 participants. The second course offers participants a deeper dive into supply chain strategies and in developing relevant planning and exercises. It will be delivered in a workshop format to 420 participants, nationwide. This Community Lifelines, Logistics, and Supply Chain Awareness course will appeal to community leaders and emergency response teams and planners and will grant successful completers Continuing Education Units and certificates of completion. The course content was developed in partnership with national subject matter experts and has recently been approved.
Partners, Partners, Partners
The MACEM&PS proudly supports first responders by helping them to convert prior career learning/training/experience as well as completed FEMA IS courses to college credits. Longstanding partnerships with FEMA, FEMA’s Center for Domestic Preparedness, and the multinational engineering firm Jacobs Technology enable the MACEM&PS to provide this service. The Center monitors, evaluates, and assesses credit seekers’ prior work training and experience for college creditworthiness. Completion of many FEMA IS course are also available for FCC accreditation. When such accomplishments are accredited, individuals can apply those credits to an FCC transcript via a fee-based service. Those credits can then be used to progress toward an Emergency Management AAS degree, Letters of Recognition for career advancement, or promotion, or to transfer to other institutions.
The residents of Maryland also benefit from a collaboration of the Maryland Department of Emergency Management (MDEM) with the MACEM&PS. Our organization supports MDEM with its planning, education, and operations through a variety of functions. Historically the MACEM&PS has provided apprentice staffing, Complex Coordinated Attack regional planning support, development of a planning course, and the development of a mitigation manual for Maryland state, county, and municipal planners.
One of the MACEM&PS most rewarding ongoing projects is contributing to the development of the leaders of tomorrow, the Maryland high school students who are studying emergency management. The MACEM&PS has served its ninth year as the Maryland Postsecondary Affiliate for the Career and Technical Education program in Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (HSEP). The MACEM&PS provides curriculum review and revision services, and prepares, edits, and hones presentation materials. In addition, the MACEM&PS provides ongoing program advocacy, outreach, support, and professional development to Maryland’s high school teachers of the HSEP program. Each summer, the MACEM&PS welcomes HSEP teachers from across the state to a Summer Institute, offering a career development and network opportunity for them.
Another meaningful opportunity is the Center’s work with the Maryland State Police (MSP). It is deeply gratifying to support law enforcement professionals throughout the state of Maryland with the continuation of the MSP Police Science degree program at FCC. This program has greatly enhanced the quality of professional police services in the state of Maryland. To date, over 400 Troopers have enrolled and successfully completed the program while obtaining their Associate in Applied Science degree in Police Science. The continued relationship between FCC and MSP signifies the ongoing commitment both agencies share to bring the community and law enforcement together to benefit all residents of the state. The MACEM&PS recently expanded the FCC relationship with MSP by the addition of four Technical Writing Programs designed to address challenges in law enforcement written communications with consideration to the national focus on improving law enforcement written communications.
Most recently, the MACEM&PS was awarded a contract with the Naval Postgraduate School, Center for Homeland Defense and Security (CHDS). The CHDS is the nation’s premier homeland security education center and is located in Monterey, California. The MACEM&PS is commissioned to develop online courseware for educating participants on the topic of private-public partnerships that will serve a national audience.
Like our constituents, the MACEM&PS is at foremost a learning organization. Opening our minds to various perspectives with active listening is essential to our academic ethos and a valuable means of staying abreast of the current needs in the industries we serve. In 2021, the MACEM&PS hosted a conversation series called Reclaiming Humanity. The MACEM&PS Executive Director, Kathy Francis, interviewed a series of public safety leaders to hear their experiences of enduring and counteracting racism, earning public trust and respect through accountability, community engagement, and transparency in the course of their public safety and emergency management roles. Stimulating these important conversations and providing a platform for these stories that need to be told and voices that need to be heard left a moving impression on all who participated – and documented experiences for posterity.
The MACEM&PS takes great pleasure and pride in serving and supporting emergency management and public safety partners. We take to heart our charge to contribute to the building of a resilient and prepared nation. We embrace our duty by staying abreast of environmental changes in the fields of emergency management and public safety, keeping an eye on the horizon. We listen, network, read, learn, analyze, synthesize, and communicate to our learners changes in the fields we serve. Like our host, Frederick Community College, we help our learners move forward with progress.