At the Resource
This ongoing feature provides information on free resources accessible to first responder departments nationwide. This includes training, equipment, and funding opportunities that focus on rural and small to midsize communities.
Free FEMA Independent Study Program for CEUs and College Credit
The Emergency Management Institute under FEMA offers an Independent Study Program geared toward emergency response that can be completed online and is eligible for continuing education and college credit. A total of 165 courses are currently active, and include topics from incident management and planning to communications. Each class may receive up to 1.5 CEUs and one college credit, with the full breakdown provided next to the course list which can be found here. CEUs are provided at the end of the course; check with your program prior to enrollment to ensure that the credits match the requirements for continuing your certification. College credit is obtained through Frederick Community College, and converting the certificates to credit costs $79 per semester-hour. Transcripts showing the credits earned are provided within four weeks of application. The program processes close to 44,000 test submissions each week, and since its creation, has resulted in about 20,000 college credits issued for its courses.
Each of the class pages includes a course summary with the expected study duration, and links to the class materials and final exam. To take a course, download the study materials and review the content, then take the exam when ready. All study materials can be accessed without logging in, and students are considered “enrolled” in a class at the time the exam questions are submitted. The exam draws from a pool of possible questions, and re-taking the exam will result in a different test set being displayed. Once all questions have been answered, students must complete the requested ID and contact information with their submission; tests will be scored within one business day, with results provided through the student’s email. Emails for exams with a score of 75% or higher will also include a link to download the certificate of completion.
Students will need to use their social security number to complete the final exam required at the end of each course in order to receive their college credit or CEUs. If students do not wish to use their social security number, an alternate ID can be requested through the process here; however, using an alternate number may cause issues in applying college credit because of the discrepancy in identification.
Courses offered include:
• Professional Development Series: 5 CEUs, 6 college credits (seven when combined with Exercise Evaluation) - This seven-course series is intended to “provide a well-rounded set of fundamentals for those in the emergency management profession.” Students completing all seven courses will automatically be provided with a PDS certificate in addition to the standard course completion record.
• National Incident Management System Courses (credit varies, 17 courses total) - This comprehensive guide to the Incident Command System provides information at all levels of response, from law enforcement to public works. Also included are healthcare, mutual aid, and community response guidelines relevant to first responder organizations.
• Exercise Design: 1.5 CEUs, 1 College Credit – This course teaches responders to plan and implement community exercises simulating disaster response. “This course is designed to introduce you to the fundamentals of exercise design and to prepare you to design and conduct a small functional exercise for your organization. It addresses: The value of conducting exercises. The components of a comprehensive exercise program. The exercise development process ¾ development tasks, organization of the design team, exercise documentation, and the steps in designing an exercise.”
• Community Hurricane Awareness: 1 CEU, 1 College Credit – This course is designed for emergency managers in high-risk communities. It instructs participants on how to “identify the characteristic features of a hurricane, list ways in which meteorologists monitor hurricane development, describe hazards from hurricanes, discuss the basic hurricane forecasting process and its limitations, identify the correct forecast product to use at various stages in an event, and analyze various source of information about a hurricane and formulate a plan for dealing with the potential disaster”