Navigating a New Role: Challenges and Opportunities for Fire Officers in Emergency Management
Thursday, February 22, 2024
In today’s mobile and agile work environment, it’s common to see uniformed fire officers assigned to a role in emergency management or to seek employment in emergency management as a second career. Some are well prepared for this transition and have gone to great lengths to educate and ready themselves for a new challenge. Others, however, founder when they realize just how unique and different these two disciplines can be. Being a seasoned fire or EMS officer is a great start, but to be a professional, competent emergency manager requires an enhanced skillset. This session provides an understanding of leadership, will provide the attendee with a roadmap to assist in becoming a professional emergency manager. Topics covered will include discussing how the roles of the two professions, which certainly can complement one another, are inherently different and require seeing though a different lens. The qualities needed for success such as problem solving, relationship building, strategic thinking, accountability, adaptability, and the ability to “connect the dots” will be discussed and insight into how to master these skills will be provided.
Michelle Oblinsky is VDEM’s Deputy State Coordinator and Chief of the Virginia Emergency Support Team (VEST). Michelle oversees the four divisions within the Commonwealth Coordination and Incident Management Assistance Team (COVAMAT).
- Planning, Training Education and Exercise Division (TEED)
- Operational Coordination and the Commonwealth of Virginia Incident Management Assistance Team (COVAMAT).
As Chief of the VEST, Michelle and her work with VDEM and other state agencies to ensure the readiness of the VEST and the Virginia Emergency Operation Center systems. She holds a master’s degree in geography planning from UNC Charlotte, as well as a bachelor’s degree in planning from VA Tech.