Living in a Hazardous Environment

Eric Kremers,
Arkansas Tech University


Overview of emergency management systems with an analysis of the causes, characteristics, nature and effects of such disasters as avalanches, drought, earthquakes, epidemics, fires, flooding, hazardous materials, hurricanes, industrial accidents, nuclear power plant accidents, power failures, volcanoes, and other catastrophic hazards.

Course Size:

Course Format:
Lecture only

Institution Type:
Public four-year institution, primarily undergraduate

Course Context:

This is an introductory course with no pre-requisites. It is a required course for a BS in Emergency Management. This course will improve students understanding of Earth processes that influence natural systems while examining human behavior patterns that led to heightened risk from disasters. During the semester students will examine fundamental hazard-related processes and concepts lending to a better understanding of different types of hazards and appreciation of the complexities which are even today beyond complete scientific understanding. Students will discuss risk associated with hazardous materials and current mitigation efforts by emergency managers who must prepare for infrequent, improbable and often potentially catastrophic events of unpredictable scale in terms of human and economic cost. Students will discuss and understand the Emergency Support Functions and their specific roles in a hazardous environment.

Course Content:

  • Describe the different hazard categories and various hazards that are included in each of them
  • Describe examples of scales and systems used to measure the magnitude of hazards and disasters
  • Explain the various types of natural disasters and how the phases of Emergency Management flow dynamically through them.
  • List and explain the steps by which hazard risks are assessed
  • Describe the social and economic risk factors and how they influence a community's risk profile

Course Goals:

Unit 1: Introduction; Syllabus, Schedule
Unit 2: Natural Hazards
Unit 3: Natural Hazards, cont'd
Unit 4: Technological Hazards
Unit 5: Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear
Unit 6: Risk Assessment, Hazard and Risk Analysis
Unit 7: Hazard Identification
Unit 8: Domestic Hazards
Unit 9: Emergency Support Functions

Course Features:

The main features of this course are detailed description of natural disasters and emergency response efforts. In depth detail is also discussed using the Emergency Response Guide for dealing with Hazardous Materials.

Course Philosophy:

The primary reason for this course was to express a wide variety of situations in the classroom that I have experienced in the field. My background was heavy in disaster response and expressing real world experience to the next generation is the main goal.


Assessment is about 70% exams that cover the lectures and about 30% independent and group research of disasters and hazards.


Course Syllabus (Microsoft Word 63kB Apr11 14)

References and Notes:

  • Haddow, G. D.; Bullock, J. A.; Coppola, D. P. (2011). Introduction to emergency management (4th ed.). Burlington, MA: Butterworth-Heinemann.
  • Emergency Response Guide 2012