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Guide to FEMA Courses Online

written by: Sylvia Cochran•edited by: Pamela Rice-Linn•updated: 12/9/2009

When JFK implored his audience to think about what they could do for their country, he was most likely not thinking of natural disasters. Nevertheless, with FEMA courses online, you can take this admonition and become a trained helper in times of crisis for your community.

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    Disaster Preparedness

    The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is a relatively new organization that serves Americans by being a coordinator in times of crisis and natural disasters. As such, it steps in when state, county, and city first responders are unable to cope with the extent of the emergency.

    As Bright Hub’s Robin points out in her article “How does Climate Change Affect Hurricanes", the coastal population centers in hurricane prone areas are increasing in size, while climate change is likely increasing the severity and also likelihood of these natural disasters. Add to this the other natural disasters that also hit areas all over the country -- not just near the coast -- such as earthquakes and tornadoes, and it only makes sense that communities need well trained first responders as well as ordinary citizens to step up and help out in an emergency. To this end, online FEMA courses serve community minded United States residents.

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    Nuts and Bolts

    Online disaster preparedness training by FEMA is open to American residents with a valid postal address. Of course, unofficial enrollment is open to anyone, but scored exams and also certificates of completion are only offered to US residents. Hosted by the Emergency Management Institute, independent study courses are plentiful. For example, students may study “radiological emergency management," take a class on “household hazardous materials", find out what to do with “livestock in disasters", or familiarize themselves with the “principles of emergency management". These courses are free of charge.

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    What Else Do These Courses Offer?

    After successfully passing selected disaster preparedness courses, you may receive college credit from Frederick Community College, a Maryland school accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges. Students must apply for the credit and also pay a $75 fee for receiving it.

    In addition to college credit, students may also receive CEU credit for a number of the available FEMA courses. For example, the course “livestock in disasters" offers one CEU and one college credit; in contrast, the course “household hazardous materials" only offers 0.3 CEUs and no college credits.

    It goes without saying that these onlineFEMA courses provide ordinary citizens with the necessary training to make split second decisions and also spearhead emergency efforts in their local communities.