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HomeHeraldry

Heraldry - by Clayton Oliver, CEM


One thing emergency management lacks is distinctive heraldry. This is particularly inexplicable because our ancestral profession, civil defense, had both an international symbol and a United States-specific logo (according to Wikipedia, which is never wrong).

With all due respect to NEMA, I don’t think the current standard of sloping "EM" and a swoosh with stars really represents us. It’s too abstract.


I would like to propose something… grander.


We begin with our escutcheon (shield), party per saltire (divided into four equal parts on the diagonals):

  • In the upper quarter, an argent triangle upon an azure field, representing our civil defense roots;
  • In the sinister quarter (right, from the viewer’s perspective), a quill and scroll upon an argent field, representing all the plans, budgets, reports, grant proposals, and other paperwork we perform in preparation;
  • In the lower quarter, an azure field with a domestic cat passant (walking) beneath a lasso, representing our coordinating role in response;
  • And in the dexter quarter (left, from the viewer’s perspective), an incomplete castle upon an argent field, representing our under-funded initiatives for recovery and mitigation.

The escutcheon itself can be deployed for everyday use – business cards, vehicles, stickers, and so forth. I’d personally like a couple of embroidered polos.


However, if we’re going to adopt full heraldic majesty, we can continue.


To either side of the escutcheon, our supporters are mythological chimera: a lion breathing fire, with a goat’s head arising from its back and a serpent for a tail. This beast stands for our many missions, which don’t always go together logically or comfortably.


Above the escutcheon, we place our helm: a crimson rescue helmet, symbolizing both our tendency to continually bump our heads on the limits of our authority and our role (in some states) as SAR coordinators.


Beneath it all, a scroll bearing our motto: Officium Absque Auctoritae, or Responsibility Without Authority. No further explanation should be needed.


You read it here first, folks. Now can I get a graphic designer to draw this up?

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