Home Emergency Management News IAEM Professionals Concerned Over Possible Misuse of Term 'Emergency Manager'

IAEM Professionals Concerned Over Possible Misuse of Term 'Emergency Manager'


Emergency management being inaccurately labeled

In a recent press release, the International Association of Emergency Managers (IAEM) expressed concern over how Michigan is inaccurately labeling financial managers as "emergency managers."

Term usage creating public confusion and misunderstanding

The IAEM pointed out that the use of the term "emergency manager" to describe an emergency financial manager in the Flint, MI water-contamination crisis generates dangerous confusion and misunderstanding among the public about the real role of emergency managers -- to serve the public and keep them safe -- not cut budgets and balance ledgers at the expense of the community.

In the release, IAEM-USA President, Robi Robinson noted, "One thing must be made absolutely clear: the term 'emergency manager' in the Flint, Michigan situation refers to a fiscal-only function that bears no relationship to the term as it is commonly and universally used on a national and an international basis."

IAEM Urges Immediate Change

This confusion could undermine the vital role of emergency management professionals, whose job it is to prepare for, respond to, and recover from disaster events.

As a result, IAEM is urging the media, governments, and leaders to help resolve the situation by educating the public and clarifying the actual role of these individuals who are in place due to financial issues.  

The organization is asking for a renaming of the role to something more descriptive, such as "emergency financial manager" to immediately clarify the position and its duties.

Damaging Confidence, Making Communities Vulnerable

Robison concluded that currently, the "confusion is damaging community confidence in real emergency managers both in and out of Michigan, and in doing so it is making our communities more vulnerable."

IAEM advised that a true emergency manager works daily to support first responders and public safety agencies by building relationships within communities -- to help keep its citizens safe.

Kimberly Arsenault Kimberly Arsenault serves as an intern at the Cleveland/Bradley County Emergency Management Agency where she works on plan revisions and special projects. Previously, Kimberly spent 15 years in commercial and business aviation. Her positions included station manager at the former Midwest Express Airlines, as well as corporate flight attendant, inflight manager, and charter flight coordinator. Kimberly currently holds a master's degree in emergency and disaster management from American Public University.