Great Bay Community College is preparing the next generation of first responders and emergency-management specialists with the introduction of a new two-year Associate of Science degree in Homeland Security and Emergency Management.
New this fall, the degree program expands on Great Bay’s existing certificate in Homeland Security by adding emergency management components. It focuses on the four phases of emergency management: mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery. Both programs are geared toward individuals interested in responding to and preparing for disasters.
Great Bay is the first community college in New Hampshire to offer a two-year degree in the field. It will provide emergency-management professionals with the skills and expertise necessary to plan for and respond to natural and man-made disasters and emergencies. The new degree comes at a time when the market for homeland security and emergency-management jobs is growing in both public and private sectors.
“This is a critical career field for our nation. The homeland security and emergency management disciplines put professionals in the field who focus on preventing emergencies and minimizing their effects, preparing to handle emergencies, responding to emergencies when they occur, and recovering after the fact,” said Eric Kulberg, department chair and professor of Criminal Justice. “These professionals are saving lives and reducing the impact on our economy.”
With topics that include homeland security, emergency management, terrorism, crisis planning, and national incident management systems, the program will prepare students for hands-on careers across a range of fields, including as emergency-management directors, safety coordinators, and disaster-recovery managers. In addition to emergency management, career options include law enforcement, military service, corporate security, and risk management.
“COVID-19 showed that emergency management is not only a government function but something private companies must also consider,” Kulberg said. “Fortune 500 companies have emergency managers planning for disasters for years. And now, smaller and smaller companies are seeing the value of emergency planning.”
Justin Cutting, director of the New Hampshire Department of Safety’s Division of Fire Standards and Training & Emergency Medical Services, said Great Bay students are well prepared to assume roles in both the fire service and emergency medical services, especially those who aspire for positions of leadership in their organizations or plan to be part of an emergency-management team.
“Many fire and EMS leaders are also local emergency management directors in their communities,” Cutting said. “Proper planning and response to emergency incidents is essential to positive outcomes.”
Kimberly LaShomb, an emergency management specialist at the VA Bedford Healthcare System in Massachusetts, said the Homeland Security certificate she received from Great Bay is the foundation of her career. At the VA, LaShomb plays a critical role planning and coordinating emergency response programs and activities. Those range from potential and actual natural, wartime, and technological disasters, to terrorism or hostage situations, to the pandemic and the work required to protect the public health of her community. She also trains others in disaster preparation.
Her ascent to the top of her field began at Great Bay, where she completed a certificate in Homeland Security soon after Great Bay began offering it. She has done many things in her career, including serving as a police officer at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery and as an antiterrorism officer with the U.S. Department of Defense.
“The emergency management program is great because it’s going to give a baseline to the field,” she said. “Emergency management is an interesting field because you have to be the jack-of-all-trades to understand it and can dabble in everything from safety to business operations. As a hiring manager within the field, I look for candidates with the appropriate level of training and knowledge, especially experience in incident command.”
The two-year degree is an outgrowth of the college’s certificate program. The certificate can be a way to “test the waters” in the field and see if students enjoy the topics, Kulberg said. “The genesis of the certificate was to meet the demand for homeland security professionals after 9/11. COVID-19 showed the importance of preparing and responding to disasters. The degree was developed to meet the demand for emergency preparation.”
The certificate requires 16 to 18 credits, while the degree is 61 to 65 credits. Good candidates are people new to the field, including recent high school graduates or those looking for a career change, as well as people who currently work in emergency response. Faculty members with extensive experience in the homeland security field teach the curriculum.
For a schedule of courses offered this spring visit: https://www.greatbay.edu/academics/schedule/ For more information on the Homeland Security and Emergency Management visit: https://www.greatbay.edu/program/homeland-security-emergency-management/