Growing Leadership with an Online Public Service Degree


First responders earning a degree at Granite State College.

The Changing Needs of Public Service Leaders and How a College Degree Can Help

From the opioid epidemic to cybercrime and mass shootings, these high profile national public safety threats are changing how our public service leaders approach emergency preparedness situations. Police, Fire, and Emergency Medical Services units are challenged to manage increasingly complex incidents in a world that’s highly connected and always looking for answers. Responsibilities that wouldn’t have been anticipated five or ten years ago have become essential components of public service positions.

Together, these forces are having a significant impact on the role of public service leaders while unveiling qualities that are essential for thriving in this environment.

Let’s Explore: How is Public Service Changing?


Emergency response plans once focused on incidents such as fires or chemical spills. Today, these plans take an “all-hazards” approach which considers natural, chemical, biological, explosive, traumatic, and radiological-related events concurrently. In response, new training was developed to help police, fire, E.M.T.s, municipalities, hospitals, and other stakeholders work together to plan and maximize resources should such a severe or tragic event confront the community.

Social Media

Social media has changed the fire service and public safety. Today when first responders arrive at to an incident, it’s common to see groups of people taking videos on their phones to document the situation, creating a much higher level of public accountability.

Public service leaders are leveraging this technology into something useful for communication with the general public. Mike Allen earned his bachelor’s in public service management and master’s in project management at Granite State College. As part of his graduate capstone project, Mike developed a plan to integrate social media communications into the department.

“Social media is a huge resource for the department to build trust in the community and solve crimes,” shared Allen.


In New Hampshire, a key component of the Governor’s 2016 Comprehensive Response to the opiate/opioid crisis involves public safety. Creative solutions, such as Safe Stations in Manchester, Nashua, Portsmouth, and other communities, serve as safe environments for individuals seeking assistance and looking for treatment to start their path to recovery. Nationally, law enforcement is changing their response to drug overdoses and now prioritizes addressing the addiction instead of the drug offense.


In fire safety, the nature of their work is evolving and about 80% of fire department operations involve administering Emergency Medical Services (E.M.S.), according to the Manchester Fire Department (NH). In the 1990s, a typical job qualification for an entry-level firefighter involved becoming an Emergency Medical Technician (E.M.T.). Because of the growth in emergency medical incidents, hiring practices now favor firefighters who are paramedics and will offer a more advanced knowledge base of E.M.S. practices.

The Case for Leadership

In order to effectively tackle emerging challenges in public service, departments will need tactical expertise and strong leadership. Earning a bachelor’s degree can help you demonstrate leadership and gain skills in the administrative side of management-level positions. This will help you stand out as a highly qualified candidate when you’re ready to pursue your next big promotion, which leads to increased responsibilities and earning potential.