Open Access Open Access  Restricted Access Subscription or Fee Access

How university students perceive emergency management: A case for marketing emergency management

Robert A. Mann, DSc, Gregory L. Shaw, DSc


Objective: The purpose of this study was to determine if university students understood the differences between first responders and emergency management as awareness of the differences informs the individual’s decision-making processes.

Design: Convenience sampling, mixed methods data collection with descriptive analysis and means testing.

Setting: US, Southeastern Conference University, during summer semester.

Participants: 500 convenience sampled student volunteers.

Intervention: Convenience sampled, mixed-mode survey administered May to July 2017.

Main outcome measures: Population sampling of a minimum of n = 372 (actual n = 500 obtained) surveys to achieve a 95 percent confidence level of p ≤ 0.05 ± 4.29 percent.

Results: 19.6 percent of the participants were able to associate response and recovery with emergency management. Word association with “Emergency Management” as the trigger word produced a 35.8 percent association with disasters and emergencies. 70.4 percent of the participants attended a university sponsored emergency preparedness course, but only 44.2 percent indicated they had received emergency preparedness training.

Conclusions: There was a derivation of three issues: A lack of understanding in the differences between first responders and emergency management, a non-association of emergencies and disasters with emergency management, and a lack of understanding in what emergency preparedness training is. Results point to a need for further education on the duties and responsibilities of the emergency management profession. A form of information transfer that may be productive would be to administer an awareness campaign via social marketing. Further study is indicated, using a more rigorous sampling and analysis methodology.


emergency management, university students, first responders, awareness, education

Full Text:



Madden S: Alerting a campus community: Emergency notification from a public’s perspective. J Contingencies Crisis Manage. 2015; 23(4): 184-192.

Jensen J: Emergency management identity and return on investment: A dialogue to address an urgent need. In: 64th Annual Conference and EMEX. Savannah, Georgia: North Dakota State University; 2016.

Blanchard BW: Dictionary of emergency management and related terms, definitions, legislation and acronyms. In: Blanchard BW (ed.). Dictionary of emergency management and related terms, definitions, legislation and acronyms. Emmitsburg, Maryland: DHS FEMA EMI; 2007.

Gee NR, Harris SL: Homograph norms: An alternative approach to determining meaning dominance. Behav Res Methods. 2010; 42(4): 976-986.

Jensen JA, Yoon DK: Volunteer fire department perceptions of ICS and NIMS. J Homeland Secur Emerg Manage. 2011; 8(1): 14.

Birkland T, Waterman S: Is federalism the reason for policy failure in hurricane Katrina? Publius: J Federalism. 2008; 38(4): 692-714.

Lovekamp WE, Tate ML: College student disaster risk, fear and preparedness. Int J Mass Emerg Disasters. 2008; 26(2): 70-90.

Rasmussen C, Johnson G: The ripple effect of Virginia Tech: Assessing the nationwide impact on campus safety and security policy and practice. Minneapolis, Minnesota: Midwestern Higher Education Compact; 2008.

Department of Education, FEMA: Guide for developing high-quality emergency operations plans for institutions of higher education. In: Education OoEaS (ed.). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education; 2013.

NIMS: NIMS 2008. In: FEMA D (ed.). Emmitsburg, Maryland: FEMA; 2008.

Claborn DM: Emergency preparedness of individual students at a large state university in Missouri. J Inst Justice Int Stud. 2010; 33(10): 34, 42-43.

Mann RA: What is emergency management to a university student? Jacksonville, Alabama: Jacksonville State University; 2017: 19.

McEntire DA: Presentation at Jacksonville State University: Promoting research and education to address the disaster problem. In: The status of emergency management theory. Denton, Texas: University of North Texas, 2019.

Guion D, Scammon DL, Borders AL: Weathering the storm: A social marketing perspective on disaster preparedness and response with lessons from hurricane Katrina. Am Market Assoc. 2007; 26(1): 12.

Torani S, Majd PM, Maroufi SS, et al.: The importance of education on disasters and emergencies: A review article. J Educ Health Promot. 2019; 8: 85.



  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2021 Journal of Emergency Management