Each year, emergency management personnel from across Virginia gather at the Virginia Emergency Management Symposium to discuss current trends and topics in emergency management and to share information about the latest emergency management and homeland security technology and tools. Longwood University Emergency Management Coordinator, Tracie Giles, was able to attend the symposium which included attending the Institutions of Higher Education Caucus meeting where college and university emergency management practitioners work collectively to share information regarding emergency management best practices, legislation, training and exercise opportunities, and much more.

Since the founding of the Institutions of Higher Education Caucus in 2012, the Virginia Emergency Management Association has promoted the importance of emergency management on college and university campuses across the Commonwealth and has provided a scholarship opportunity for one emergency manager in higher education to attend the symposium. Scholarship candidates compose a brief essay describing how attending the symposium will benefit themselves and the institution they represent. This year, Longwood University Emergency Management Coordinator, Tracie Giles, was awarded the Institutions of Higher Education Scholarship and was recognized at the annual awards banquet on Thursday, March 22. The conference was held at The Omni Homestead in Hot Springs, Virginia. A copy of Tracie’s essay is below.

Chief Bob Beach of the Longwood University Police Department, which manages the Universities office of Emergency Management said, “The Emergency Management Office is a critical component in the overall structure for the safety and security of Longwood. That is highlighted in the fact the Commonwealth Emergency Management Association has taken the time and effort to institute and highlight that office’s efforts in the Higher Education Community. We are so proud of all the effort that Tracie has created out of her office and her expertise is well recognized by this award. Like Tracie, we look forward to the benefit that will come to Longwood University and the larger community as she works with campus partners and the community to be better prepared and to make more informed emergency management decisions based on best practices.”


VEMA Scholarship Essay

I was given the opportunity to attend the VEMA conference in March of 2017 when I was working as the Deputy Emergency Management Coordinator for Chesterfield County. The conference offered me the opportunity to attend sessions where I gained practical knowledge and learned the latest trends and technology from others. The conference was also a great way to network with other emergency management practitioners around the State of Virginia.

In June of 2017 I accepted the Emergency Management Coordinator position at Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia. As I switched emergency management hats from a locality to an institution of higher education, I was able to use the knowledge I gained from last year’s conference in my new position and the relationships that were formed continued to be an important part of my transition.

With that being said, moving from an emergency management position within a locality to an institution of higher education revealed similarities as well as differences. I found that I could use the knowledge and skills that had already been developed and I also found that I had a lot of learning to do. Each day I am learning more than the last and I have had many people offer support.

I would like to attend the conference again this year to continue my quest for knowledge that is best satisfied through training sessions, lectures, and networking with other emergency management professionals. This year, I would like to meet the colleagues that work at institutions of higher education to learn from each one, to share information, and to create relationships that are best formed in face-to-face interactions. Not only will this benefit me personally as I do my job, it will benefit Longwood University as I work with campus partners and the community to be better prepared and to make more informed emergency management decisions based on best practices.