Partnership seeks to prepare students for a career in emergency management

A female dispatcher wearing a headset sits at a computer.

Navigating the intense atmosphere of the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) during the Tunnel Fire—a 2022 Coconino County wildfire that burned more than 26,000 acres—was challenging for even experienced emergency professionals. Now, those lessons are being used to train the next generation of emergency managers. 

Coconino County Emergency Management is collaborating with Northern Arizona University’s Career Ready initiative, along with its emergency management degree program and the Office of Emergency Management, to offer an unparalleled educational opportunity to a dozen students.  

From April 18-20, students will be immersed in the environment of a real-world EOC, drawing on data and insights gleaned from significant emergencies in northern Arizona. With the Tunnel Fire serving as a case study, participants will tackle a range of scenarios mirroring those faced by EOC personnel, acquiring essential skills and knowledge that will pave the way to careers in emergency management. 

The course begins with FEMA’s Incident Command System/Emergency Operations Center Interface class, which teaches the fundamentals of communication and collaboration between on-scene incident management teams and the EOC’s command and general staff. 

Guided by Coconino County’s emergency managers, students will then assume command and general staff roles, bringing the EOC to life in a comprehensive functional exercise. 

Thanks to support from NAU Yuma’s Elevating Excellence initiative, students participating in this project will receive financial assistance to offset travel expenses. 

This immersive training session will take place at the Coconino County Emergency Operations Center in Flagstaff, where emergency management experts from across northern Arizona will converge to mentor and guide students through this transformative experience. 

NAU Communications