Mahmoud Shoblaq, instructor for the Emergency and Disaster Management certificate at Kompass Professional Development
We don't usually think much about how we'd handle a major emergency until the emergency strikes. The sudden and totally destabilizing onslaught of COVID-19 is an excellent example.
This is an unprecedented event. We didn't see it coming. We never thought about how our lives might get turned upside down, or what measures we could take to protect ourselves ahead of time.
This isn't how ordinary people think. But it's exactly how the mind of an emergency manager works.
The current global health and economic crisis has thrust the field of emergency management into the spotlight. Suddenly, it seems everyone has an opinion on how to handle the fallout, while scrutinizing leadership decisions at every level, from government to banks to big business.
We're getting a close-up look at how emergency managers cope with a true crisis, for better or for worse. It seemed like the perfect time to interview our own Emergency Management instructor, Mahmoud Shoblaq.
Mahmoud is a Certified Public Health Inspector, with extensive experience in food safety, occupational health & safety, emergency management, environmental safety, and overall regulatory compliance.
He joined us this week to discuss the field of emergency management, what it takes to succeed in this role, and what to expect in his online course. Here are the highlights from our conversation.
Q: Mahmoud, can you share a bit about your background in emergency management?
Mahmoud: For more than 8 years, I have worked in various areas of public and occupational health. Emergency management plays a large role in both these fields.
From Public Health Inspector to Compliance Supervisor, my roles included participating in emergency planning, and ensuring emergency management plans were in place and ready to be executed when necessary.
I’ve had the privilege to work all over Canada, which has given me a good understanding of how different provinces and businesses approach emergency management.
Q: What inspired you to teach the Emergency and Disaster Management course?
Mahmoud: In general, I have always had a great passion for teaching and helping others. I love being able to share my experience and help people grow professionally.
Q: What are the most important practical skills students learn in your class?
Mahmoud: Students leave this course with a very solid grounding in the principles and structure of emergency management. They understand the elements of an emergency management plan, and what it takes to put it all together.
They know practical tactics for managing an emergency, including risk mitigation, recovery, continuity, and other key outcomes.
Q: Who is the ideal candidate for the online Emergency Management course?
Mahmoud: My students come from diverse backgrounds and different stages of career growth. The course can benefit a new grad or someone who is already working in the emergency management field.
We have people who currently work in emergency services, and are looking to build additional skills to advance their career.
We also have students who have found themselves in a new role, which requires them to build an emergency program from scratch (or update an existing strategy). The Emergency Management course is beneficial for many.
Q: What kinds of assignments and learning tools do you use in class?
Mahmoud: We use a variety of approaches, which are designed to help students put emergency management theory into practice. We break down real scenarios, do research, analyze case studies, and debate strategies.
Most of the assignments focus on practical applications of the concepts learned in class.
Q: Do you need a university degree to break into this field? Or can you get started with a certificate or related work experience?
Mahmoud: Each company is structured and budgeted differently and will hire based on their needs. There are certainly entry-level emergency management roles that don't necessarily require a degree.
For example, administrative positions that help support emergency management personnel. Depending on your experience and the position, anything is possible. Never sell yourself short, always put your name out there!
Q: Which sectors offer the most emergency management career opportunities right now?
Mahmoud: Most occupational health and safety (OHS) positions play a major part in workplace emergency management programs. OHS along with government positions are abundant right now.
Q: What natural strengths are key for success in this profession?
Mahmoud: Leadership, grace under pressure, and communication are absolutely essential skills to have in this field. You need to be a clear communicator and persuasive leader to maintain and direct a cohesive emergency management team.
Q: In your experience, what's the biggest myth about emergency management?
Mahmoud: The biggest myth people believe is that every emergency is managed the same way. The general elements or phases of emergency management may be similar, but every crisis is unique in its own way.
Emergency managers must adapt their approach to the needs of the moment, and the different nuances of each scenario.
Q: How are emergency managers dealing with the current COVID-19 crisis?
Mahmoud: The response will differ quite a bit, depending on the company and position. Every company will have unique challenges in responding to COVID-19, keeping staff and customers safe, and dealing with business continuity issues.
In government, emergency professionals are focusing on both policy and practical measures at the federal, provincial, and municipal levels to contain the virus and protect public health.
Individual businesses are working with emergency managers to find new ways to operate, safely and effectively, while respecting social distancing measures.
Across the board, the most important objective is effective communication, to ensure the emergency response is clear, well understood, and possible to implement. Some leaders are doing a great job in this respect, while other are struggling.
Q: How does your online Emergency Management course stand out from other training options?
Mahmoud: The course stands out for its flexibility. The Emergency Management certificate is delivered entirely online, using an integrated learning platform and virtual communication with the instructor.
Students can fit assignments around their work schedule. You have up to 6 months to complete the course. But at every stage, you have access to the instructor, so you're supported throughout the process.
Learn More About Emergency Management Training
Kompass Professional Development offers a 3-6 month online Emergency and Disaster Management Certificate. This course is particularly relevant to people working in healthcare, law enforcement, human resources, emergency, or fire protection services.
Students learn the fundamentals of risk management and emergency response, including:
☑️ Introduction to Emergency and Disaster Management
☑️ Hazard Identification and Risk Management
☑️ Prevention and Mitigation Strategies
☑️ Preparedness and Response
☑️ Incident Management Systems
☑️ Impact to the Community and Environment
☑️ Recovery and Continuity