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School of Geography

Samantha Brear, BA Geography 2008

Samantha Brear

I graduated in 2008 with a BA in Geography having completed a dissertation on Hurricane Ivan that hit the Cayman Islands in 2004. This led to several research trips to the islands, my own personal experience of a hurricane and their effects and an ongoing interest in emergency management related to this type of major weather event.

Encouraged by Dr. Grainger and particularly enjoying my modules in Natural Disasters and Geopolitics, I planned out a career path in the disaster management field starting with volunteering with the Red Cross in Los Angeles to expand my knowledge and to help me decide what area of emergency management would best suit my expertise and help me make a difference. I soon realised that if I wanted to get involved in the field in the States on a Federal level, I would need a Masters degree in Emergency Management. So, I began a Masters and also interned with the local government, helping them with re-writing their emergency management plans and working for a private consultancy group where my project work included hands-on emergency management training with multiple healthcare workers to see if they were prepared for a virus pandemic.

During this time I also worked for the Red Cross in disaster response work, including assisting during and after a massive apartment block fire on New Year's Eve that resulted in 48 people being made homeless. In addition, I participated in "ride-alongs" with the local fire department to familiarise myself with the workings of the response teams and gained valuable experience of the work of the emergency responders.

Having completed my Masters in 2011, together with my internship and volunteering experience and with a network of disaster management contacts, I was able to secure a post as an Emergency Management Programme Specialist at county level in Des Moines, Iowa. With responsibility for emergency management planning in the county and coordinating the three 911 dispatch centres in the county. I will be working closely with local police and fire departments as well as other state and federal agencies. It’s an exciting opportunity and I am looking forward to the challenges ahead.

My geography degree at Leeds has set me in good stead for my speciality work in emergency management planning. The professors that taught and encouraged me at the School of Geography had a profound impact on my career and where I am today.

If you are interested in this field of work please look at the International Association of Emergency Managers website, www.iaem.com