5 Fascinating Books for Emergency Management Majors

Emergency management majors are preparing for a profession that is highly practical and dependent on circumstances. A career in the field has the potential to help many people, but it is difficult to learn about emergency management from classes alone. Real world experience is the only true way to learn, but for students who do not yet have the means to gain experience, these five books are an excellent supplement to their curriculum.

1. Sitting in the Hot Seat: Leaders and Teams for Critical Incident Management, by Rhona Flin

This emergency management book is a textbook, but it is an excellent one. Flin provides an overview of the selection and training of those who will eventually be in command in the management of emergencies. She compares emergency management structures in the public and private sectors, and she goes into the psychology involved in being an on-scene commander in emergency situations. The text has a comprehensive selection of case studies to give a comprehensive and insightful analysis of the endeavor of preparing for and responding to crises.

2. Disasters by Design: A Reassessment of Natural Hazards in the United States, by Dennis S. Mileti

This textbook is another fantastic overview of the field, with a focus on preparedness for and mitigation of natural disasters. Students who are just getting started in the field will find it to be a good summary of current thinking on the issue. The book discusses the different types of disasters society faces and the strategies that have worked for each. Mileti does a particularly good job explaining the process by which research leads to policies firmly in place. If Flin’s text is the psychological approach, then Mileti’s represents the sociological perspective. Greater attention is given to the aspects of a community that cause it to be highly resilient to natural disasters.

3. The Unthinkable: Who Survives When Disaster Strikes – and Why, by Amanda Ripley

Amanda Ripley, a journalist for Time magazine, researched disasters over the past century and wrote this fascinating book about the factors that lead people to survive them. Ripley is not directly involved in the field of emergency management, so her approach is based more from the perspective of the average person faced with a disaster. She examines common responses and their effectiveness. In the process, readers learn a great deal both about human psychology and about how to be prepared for emergencies.

4. Americans at Risk: Why We Are Not Prepared for Megadisasters and What We Can Do, by Irwin Redlener

Those who are studying emergency management may have encountered the extremist culture of “preppers” who are prepared to live self-sufficiently in the case of a massive infrastructure collapse. Without descending into paranoia or sensationalism, this book tackles the issue from a relatively moderate, academic perspective. Redlener’s main goal is to get readers thinking about what would happen if various disasters actually occurred. He breaks down the common illusion that if a particular disaster is possible, then someone must have thought of it and the systems in place must have already worked out a way to deal with it.

5. Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital, by Sheri Fink

In this book, reporter Sheri Fink pieces together the events at Memorial Medical Center in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina that eventually led to a fierce debate about human euthanasia, according to The New York Times. Under wildly inadequate conditions and using failing medical equipment, doctors in this hospital struggled for five days to treat people taking shelter from the hurricane in the hospital. This book is a close look at the difficulties victims might face during major disasters.

Related Resource: 5 Great Concentrations for Homeland Security Majors

Students aspiring to enter the emergency management field professionally will find these books fascinating and informative. Experience will ultimately be the best teacher, but the variety of perspectives in these emergency management books will help students develop a well-rounded understanding of their field.