Disaster Response Careers Questions Answered, Part 1

Disaster Response CareersIn this episode of the Disaster Podcast we bring on listener LN (pronounced “ellen”) to talk about her series of questions sent in to the team here at the podcast. LN asked about how she could find a job in the disaster response space and what training she might need to find that job.

Hosts Jamie Davis, the Podmedic, and Sam Bradley were joined by regular guest Dr. Joe Holley to talk about these questions with LN and to answer any other questions she might have, too. This turned into a great episode and stretched into two parts.

LN has her own podcast and web site where she talks about being a nomad of sorts and discusses things like packing light, traveling the world, and her experiences living in different places with light resources.

Paragon Brings “The Experience”

Paragon Medical Education Group specializes in bringing what they call “The Experience” to jurisdictions around the country. They bring together police, fire, EMS, and hospital teams to train together and learn what to expect from each diverse group in the response team so that each knows what to expect from the other and how to back the other groups up. Visit Paragon’s site at ParagonMedicalGroup.com for more information on how this can be brought into your system.


Again, a special thank-you to Paragon Medical Education Group for their continued support of this podcast as our partners in this endeavor to bring disaster medicine to you. Check out their page and educational resources that can help your system be more prepared for what happens in your area.


Disaster Podcast
Disaster Podcast
Jamie Davis, Sam Bradley, Joe Holley, Kyle Nelson

The show for first responders to major incidents worldwide.

9 Replies to “Disaster Response Careers Questions Answered, Part 1”

  1. Malcolm

    I really enjoyed this podcast. I too am like LN where I am doing a career change into Emergency Mgmt/ disaster response. I was going to contact you all a couple months ago about this very topic. I recently moved back home to Central West Virginia and at the end of the year I decided I was going to take my collective experience in the military, non-profit mgmt, ministry, private & military security mgmt, threat planning, technology, logistics and volunteer fire & use them to transition into this realm. I started to do the ICS classes through my preparation with Team Rubicon & that is where I started to really want to do more of this. I saw my hometown EMS was hosting a Basic EMT class so I started it in January and have talked with the local 911 & EMA Director as I have heard since we are in a very rural, impoverished community that she needed a ton of help. So I am going through the FEMA EMI IS classes, my Basic EMT classes and plan to get a FT job with one of the county EMS providers that are short staffed, then will start volunteering with the local EMA in planning and logistics. I am going to be using the FT job in EMS to provide for my family while get experience in emergency management & disaster response. Looking forward to episode 2! Thanks!!!!

    • LN

      Hey Malcom! Welcome to the TRibe! All really useful information! I never knew about the Fema Emt is classes! I’ll be looking those up down the road, for sure!

  2. jamie


    Thanks for leaving your comment. I’ve forwarded this to the rest of the team (including LN). Look for more comments responding back soon. I congratulate you on your achievements and drive to get involved in disaster response. Come back and leave a comment on next week’s episode with LN, too!

  3. Sam Bradley


    Glad to know we have another convert! That’s one reason we got LN on the air as we knew there would be others with similar questions. Glad it helped. Your background is solid and you definitely have the drive for this kind of work. Keep in touch and let us know how it’s going. Also let us know if you have any questions along the way.

  4. Sean

    Hey guys

    I enjoyed the direction that this episode went in. I really enjoyed LN’s story and hearing the suggestions that the Disaster Podcast hosts had for her. This is a topic I would love to hear more about. I am a paramedic with over 10 years in EMS and am currently looking for different career pathways that would allow me to work in disaster response full time. That being said, it’s my understanding that both DMAT and the federal USAR teams are part time/ on call positions. Am I correct about this? Are there opportunities within the federal government either with FEMA or the NDMS that are full time? Would love to hear from you guys. Keep up the great work at the Disaster Podcast!


    • jamie

      Sean, both DMAT and USAR teams are only activated and paid as needed when disasters strike and they are called up. I’ll leave it up to the rest of the team to answer what opportunities are available at FEMA and NDMS full time. I suspect, though, that they are mostly administrative in nature and not responders.


    • Sam Bradley

      Hi Sean,

      I can only answer for DMAT (which is under HHS) and Joe will have to answer for USAR (under FEMA) although I know they are similar. We are considered permanent interim employees. Jamie is right in terms of the fact we’re only paid when activated. As a training officer I have other duties I get paid for as well. If you’re looking for full time, you might look at something in disaster planning that has response capabilities. Another element is that of of what do, buy, etc. is tax deductible. It helps. So glad you like the podcast. I’m looking at scheduling people from different response organizations so we can all learn more. Stay tuned.

  5. Kevin Reiter

    Hi LN,

    If you already have your WFR, most agencies will upgrade you to WEMT if you have your EMT certification. Check with the agency that provided your WFR training/certification and ask them about it.

  6. Joe Holley

    HI everyone! Thanks for the great questions. FEMA Us&R teams are part-time federal employees when we are activated. We are generally on-call, and notified when a request for services come through. There are a few full time positions, mostly based in the home office of FEMA or in the regional offices.

    Thanks so much for listening, commenting, and being part of the group!

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