The federal government officially unveiled FEMA Corps in Vicksburg, Miss., on Sept. 19, inducting 240 enrollees into the emergency management program.
FEMA Corps is a partnership between FEMA and the Corporation for National and Community Service that adds additional support for response and recovery of disasters by new FEMA Corps teams within AmeriCorps. Each team will consist of 10 FEMA Corps members, 18- to 24-year-olds who have signed up for the program.
“We’re really excited about the opportunity to bring more young people into emergency management to help serve the country,” said FEMA Deputy Administrator Richard Serino ahead of the announcement. “They’re going to eat, drink and live emergency management for 10 months.”
FEMA Corps teams will support preparedness, response and recovery efforts by aiding survivors, helping with public communication efforts and more. The goal is to accumulate 1,600 FEMA Corps team members in the next 18 months, each serving a 10-month stint with the option for a second year. The second-year members will qualify to be team leaders. Until then AmeriCorps personnel will serve in that capacity.
The teams will respond to disasters anywhere in the country with the first teams heading to Louisiana and Mississippi to help with the Hurricane Isaac recovery effort. When fully operational, the program could save taxpayers approximately $60 million a year, FEMA says.
Enrollees go through six weeks of training with FEMA federal coordinating officers and AmeriCorps personnel. They also undergo training at the Center for Domestic Preparedness and receive a $5,500 stipend for the 10-month term, according to Serino. “Right now it’s hard for people to get into emergency management and here’s an opportunity for somebody to look at this as a possible career.”
The benefits, according to a FEMA press release, include:
- Strengthening the nation’s disaster response capacity. The partnership will provide a trained and reliable resource dedicated to support disaster operations, while enhancing the entire emergency management workforce.
- Achieving significant cost savings to taxpayers. This partnership is projected to achieve significant cost savings by using a cost-effective approach to providing disaster services.
- Creating pathways to work for young people. By providing training, experience and educational opportunity, the partnership will prepare thousands of young people for careers in emergency management and related fields.
- Promoting an ethic of national service. The partnership will strengthen our nation’s culture of service and civic engagement by mobilizing corps members and community volunteers to provide critical disaster services.
- Modernizing government operations to improve performance. By coordinating between agencies, FEMA will advance President Barack Obama’s management goals of working across government, managing across sectors and promoting efficiency.