Local Emergency Management Accreditation

Overview

The Local Emergency Management Accreditation Program is a voluntary program that provides local emergency management offices in New York State a mechanism to evaluate and enhance the overall proficiency of their agency. Accreditation is a formal recognition that an office's policies and practices meet or exceed standards in all primary aspects of emergency management, to include preparedness, response, recovery and mitigation. It is expected that emergency management offices seeking accreditation will have an inclusive approach to emergency management, making efforts to engage "Whole Community" stakeholders, including government and non-government partners, and by considering the needs of those that may require specific considerations (e.g., the disabled, the elderly, etc.) during an emergency or disaster.

This Program also represents the strong collaboration and continued partnership between the New York State Emergency Management Association (NYSEMA) and the New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services (DHSES). NYSEMA and DHSES have worked cooperatively to develop this program with guidance and input from the emergency management community in New York State.

Role of DHSES

NYS DHSES serves as the administrative agent for the Program. In doing so, DHSES's responsibilities include but are not limited to: providing technical assistance to those interested in seeking accreditation, coordinating the accreditation and assessment process, and providing training to those interested in becoming assessors. DHSES also provides administrative support to the Accreditation Council and covers the associated administrative costs for the Program, including travel and lodging costs for the Assessors. DHSES works closely with NYSEMA, the Accreditation Council, and other members of the emergency management community as it relates to the administration of the Program.

Role of NYSEMA

NYSEMA is a non-profit organization created to support and enhance local emergency management efforts in the State. NYSEMA members include emergency management professionals from across the State and the members play an active role in the Program, to include serving on the Accreditation Council, the Standards Workgroup and as assessors. Like DHSES, NYSEMA also helps promote the Program and is a resource to provide insight and technical assistance to those interested in seeking accreditation.

Disclaimer

The accreditation is not in any manner intended to serve as a warranty, affirmation, or guarantee of the quality of performance of or procedures utilized by accredited emergency management offices in their line of work. The Program is only intended to establish a baseline level of proficiency in meeting the defined emergency management standards related to preparing for, responding to, recovering from, or mitigating emergency situations.

NYSEMA and NYS DHSES specifically disclaim any and all liability for any third party claims, actions, causes of action, judgments, liabilities, monetary losses, or injuries or damages to persons or property arising out of or resulting from the services performed by or any errors or omissions on the part of any accredited EMO.

Accreditation Council

In 2017, an Accreditation Council was established as the formal oversight and governing body for the Program, to include making the final determination on whether or not an Emergency Management Office (EMO) has met the accreditation standards. The Accreditation Council is co-chaired by the President of the New York State Emergency Management Association (NYSEMA) and the NYS DHSES Office of Emergency Management (OEM) Director. The Council includes a total of eight members, with the President of NYSEMA and DHSES OEM Director each appointing three additional representatives. In doing so, efforts are made to ensure the Council accurately reflects the emergency management community in New York, to include a cross-section of emergency management professionals from across the State, including urban and rural, as well as large and small jurisdictions. Each of the appointed members serve a three year term.

As the governing body for the Program, the Accreditation Council is responsible for final approval of the accreditation process, ensuring the associated standards are both current and relevant, and that the program remains viable. The Accreditation Council oversees the Standards Workgroup mentioned below and may establish other Workgroups as necessary.

Accreditation Standards

To become accredited, Emergency Management Offices must meet a variety of emergency management standards. The standards were developed by the Standards Workgroup of State and local emergency management professionals appointed by the Accreditation Council. The standards were developed based on a combination of factors, to include the Emergency Management Accreditation Program (EMAP) standards, relevant State laws (e.g., Article 2B of NYS Executive Law), and emergency management best practices.

Eligibility

Emergency Management Offices (EMOs) at any jurisdictional level in New York State (County, City, Town, and Village) may seek accreditation if they can meet the standards. For the purposes of this program, the Emergency Management Office (EMO) refers to the agency, office, or entity that has been formally recognized and granted the power and authority to administer the Emergency Management Program on behalf of the jurisdiction, to include but not limited to the coordination of emergency preparedness, response, recovery, and mitigation efforts. It is recognized that in some cases the EMO may be part of a larger public safety agency; however, for that agency to receive accreditation, they must meet all of the Program standards.

Application Process

Emergency Management Offices (EMOs) must complete a short application and submit it to NYS DHSES at: [email protected]. The application must be signed by the jurisdiction's Emergency Manager and the Emergency Manager's immediate supervisor. The application will also need to identify a point of contact (POC) responsible for providing all requested documentation and coordinating the on-site review.

Assessors

The Assessors are responsible for conducting the on-site reviews and associated document reviews as part of the accreditation process. They also produce reports for review and approval by the Accreditation Council. State and local emergency management professionals serve as the Assessors and need to meet specific qualifications and successfully complete training provided by DHSES. To the extent possible, Assessors will not be assigned EMOs within their DHSES or NYSEMA region.

Assessments depend greatly on the credibility, independence, and objectivity of the Assessors. Additionally, those conducting the assessments need to adhere to a high degree of professionalism and attest to their observations and recommendations.

The New York Emergency Management Accreditation Program (Program) uses a cadre of Assessors to conduct the on-site reviews associated with the Program.

The optimal qualifications for Assessors include:

  • At least seven years of emergency management experience, preferably at the State or local level;
  • Experience in at least one (1) actual emergency operation in which the emergency plan was implemented and participation in an activated emergency operations center;
  • Experience with at least one (1) Federally Declared Disaster;
  • Participation in at least one (1) multi-operational period emergency operation or full-scale exercise event in the last calendar year;
  • Some degree of experience in all phases of emergency management (preparedness, response, recovery, mitigation);
  • Must be available for at least one (1) assessment each calendar year;
  • Able to provide two (2) references regarding his or her qualifications from an emergency management director or equivalent;
  • Have no conflict of interest as regards to any aspect of the Program that might prevent objective review and assessment of an applicant program;
  • Satisfactory completion of the training course required to serve as an assessor for the accreditation program. 

The Accreditation Council will make the final decision on the selection of which individuals will serve as Assessors. Emergency management professionals in New York State are encouraged to apply but an application does not guarantee selection. Efforts will be made to select the most qualified candidates based on the pool of applicants, but the Accreditation Council will have the final say and ultimate discretion in this regard.

If you are interested in becoming an Assessor, please complete the Assessor Application Form and email it and a copy of your resume to: [email protected]. Please contact Terry Hastings at 518-242-5163 if you have any questions.

Note: The Assessor positions are unpaid, but DHSES will cover any necessary travel, lodging, and per-diem costs associated with the on-site review.

FAQs

Why should local Emergency Management Organizations (EMO) seek accreditation? What are the benefits?

Obtaining the accreditation demonstrates that an EMO has both a professional and proactive emergency management program as recognized by the State of New York and peer emergency management agencies. The accreditation program also places emergency management on par with other public safety disciplines that have state-level accreditation (e.g., law enforcement). The accreditation seeks to further promote collaboration and sharing of ideas and best practices as well. Additionally, as EMOs work to obtain the accreditation and meet a consistent set of standards, we hope to improve overall preparedness levels in New York State.

What happens if I do not choose to pursue the accreditation?

The accreditation program is completely voluntary and there is no penalty for not pursuing the accreditation.

What happens if I try but fail to meet the standards?

The standards are comprehensive in nature but reasonable, and the goal is not to "fail" anyone seeking to obtain the accreditation. Technical assistance is available to assist EMOs interested in the accreditation and efforts will be made to ensure the EMO has clarity on the standards and associated requirements before the on-site assessment is completed. Additionally, if the EMO is unable to meet the standards initially, they will have an opportunity to address any deficiencies and obtain conditional accreditation until all of the standards are fully addressed.

What type of technical assistance can be provided to those seeking accreditation, and how can it be requested?

Technical assistance may include additional guidance and clarification regarding the standards and the associated verification criteria, including the specific documentation needed to demonstrate compliance. Templates, planning guidance, and specific subject matter expertise may also be available. Technical assistance can be requested by contacting [email protected]. Depending on the nature of the assistance needed, DHSES may provide the technical assistance and/or identify other state or local emergency management officials to assist. DHSES can also help to facilitate conversations with EMOs that have been through the accreditation process.

What if I do not have one or more of the required documents associated with the standards?

EMOs will be expected to provide some degree of documentation to meet the various standards. The Program Guidance includes the specific documentation required to demonstrate compliance with the standards, but if the requested documentation does not exist for some reason, the EMO will have an opportunity to explain why such documentation is not available and/or provide other documentation suitable to meet the verification criteria. The EMO will also have an opportunity to develop any necessary documentation either before the on-site review (preferably) or afterwards, depending on the nature of the documentation needed.

How specifically does DHSES support the Accreditation Council?

DHSES provides administrative support to the Accreditation Council, to include helping to schedule the Advisory Council meetings, capturing meeting minutes, and ensuring that all of the necessary documentation is available and ready for review by the Advisory Council.

As it relates to Standard 15.0 - Emergency Operations Centers (EOC), are two back-up EOC facilities realistic?

Yes. For continuity purposes, EMOs should identify at least two locations that could be used as an EOC should the primary EOC be comprised. However, this does not mean that each facility needs to be fully equipped or operational on an on-going basis, as the goal is to simply identify contingency locations that could be used for EOC purposes. Note too that a mobile command vehicle or trailer could also serve as one of the locations should the EMO have access to such a resource.

Why is there a standard related to citizen preparedness? Shouldn’t this issue be addressed by volunteers or community groups?

The County Emergency Preparedness Assessment (CEPA) and other assessment efforts have identified citizen preparedness as a significant preparedness gap in New York State. Although some volunteer and community groups do support citizen preparedness, many communities lack a formal or coordinated citizen preparedness program. As such, this standard seeks to help address this issue by ensuring that EMOs have a program or partnerships in place to conduct, coordinate, or participate in efforts to educate the public about hazards, threats to public safety, and risk reduction through various media and other outlets. The EMO does not need to have a full-time staff person dedicated to this effort and can certainly identify volunteer or community groups to support this capacity, but at a minimum the EMO should identify a citizen preparedness point of contact to ensure some degree of visibility of this capability for the EMO and to help address the other components of this standard.  The goal here is not to make more work for the EMO, but rather to ensure some effort is being made to promote and track citizen preparedness activities in a more structured and coordinated way.

What type of events count as citizen preparedness outreach/education events?

Any event where the EMO or a partner agency actively engages and shares citizen preparedness information with the public can be counted. Examples include but are not limited to: citizen preparedness training classes, outreach at county fairs or other public forums, school presentations, local preparedness seminars, etc. Ideally, some effort will also be made to engage Whole Community stakeholders, to include groups such as the elderly, the disabled, children, etc. Again, the EMO does not necessarily need to conduct such events assuming they have identified partner agencies able to do so.

How does this program related to the National Emergency Management Accreditation Program

Although similar, the Program is in no way affiliated with the National Emergency Management Accreditation Program (EMAP), as the Program processes and standards are focused specifically on emergency management in New York State. The EMAP standards were one of many resources considered in the development of the Program standards. Efforts were made to ensure some degree of consistency with the EMAP standards so that jurisdictions could be in position to pursue the EMAP accreditation, if they so choose. However, EMAP accreditation is a completely separate process.

Contact Us

If you have any questions or need additional information about the program:

E-mail: [email protected]

or contact

Terry Hastings
DHSES Senior Policy Advisor
518-242-5163