Edited Transcript July 21, 1998
EIIP Round Table Discussion
Emergency Management Assistance Compact
Deputy Director, Mississippi Emergency Management Agency (MEMA)
Consequence Management Coordinator, Special Projects
Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA)
Chief of Operations, GEMA
This is a serious discussion and courtesy is the rule of the day. Please allow time for each speaker to complete their input. As a reminder, a sentence or two with an eclipse (....) will let others online know you have not finished your thought; a simple period at the end will signal that someone else can ask a question or make a comment.
Our guests today are here to talk about the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC).
· Leon Shaifer, Deputy Director, Mississippi Emergency Management Agency (MEMA);
· Lee Smith, Consequence Management Coordinator, Special Projects, Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA); and hopefully in a few moments
· Ron McQuaid, Chief of Operations, GEMA.
Avagene Moore: To start our discussion, I will ask a few questions of our guests to give an overview of the Round Table topic; then we will open the floor for questions.
Avagene Moore: Leon, briefly tell us what the EMAC is and how many states are involved.
Leon Shaifer: The Southern Regional Emergency Management Assistance Compact concept originated after the Hurricane Andrew experience in 1992. The original 16 consenting states were members of the Southern Governors Conference.
The SGA changed the name in 1994 to the Emergency Management Assistance Compact.
This made the EMAC available nationwide to all states and territories. So far 24 states and the territory of Puerto Rico have adopted the compact. The U. S. Congress passed the EMAC into law (P. L. 104-321).
The National Emergency Management Association (NEMA) administers the EMAC.
The NEMA EMAC Operations Subcommittee oversees the development and maintenance of operations plans and procedures and guidance for creating strike-team capabilities which are functional teams structured for rapid mobilization and deployment, upon request to an impacted state.
Strike teams include Advance Teams to assist the impacted state broker EMAC resources. Other strike teams can assist with impact assessment, damage assessment, mitigation operations support, donations management, public and individual assistance programs.
EMAC is an evolving capability with endless possibilities. For example, prior to the Florida disaster, EMAC had not considered creating a multi-functional strike team capability for supporting wildfires.
Avagene Moore: Lee, the EMAC uses Strike Teams as a means of response; how did the fire disasters effect your response to the State of Florida?
Lee Smith: One of the things that came out early was that there was a specialty need in this situation. Florida was not lacking in "normal" response capabilities, but had special needs. The fire equipment that Florida needed was not the type that was used to respond to urban fires. The states quickly learned that this was not the type of equipment that they normally tracked. So a part of what we learned, and adjusted in our response, was determining just what capabilities we had for responding to Florida's needs. The Georgia Mutual Aid Group assisted us in locating and coordinating the response.
Avagene Moore: Lee and Leon: What kinds of lessons were learned by this activation of the EMAC?
Leon Shaifer: It is important to remember that rapid availability and cost savings of resources are main EMAC benefits. Because of the travel distance required, some responding states had to look at other methods of transporting fire suppression resources and personnel to Florida. Railroads proved effective when moving large volumes of equipment; contract busing was effective in transporting personnel, responders were (fairly) rested upon arrival and ready for work.
Lee Smith: The first lesson learned is that EMAC is viable. It worked well, and will be viable in other situations. One of the issues we will have to deal with in the future is the need for specificity in requests for assistance. One states' bulldozer is another states' relic. The problem of LOW GROUND PRESSURE tracks became a real issue. Regular dozers sank in the swamps.
Incident command and coordination; the fact at an agency other than Florida DEM had the lead caused some early miscommunications and getting incident command coordination between the fire forces in the field was difficult at times. And of course, communications came forward as an issue again. Interoperability --- state pagers that didn't work out of state, cell phones that didn't work in certain areas. And finally, an issue that we continue to work, funding requirements, forms, and procedures need tweaking. Apparently the EMAC books do not have forms that are meeting the state's needs for accounting.
Avagene Moore: Lee, do you have recommendations for an impacted state when an A-Team comes in?
Lee Smith: Thanks, almost forgot that one. The supported state needs to determine where
the A-Team will locate, what computers will be available, what phone lines will be dedicated for the team, and where login would best be.
Florida did a great job of taking care of the A-Team, but most of what I've mentioned was established on the fly. The other states need to be planning for the possibility of support from an A-Team and look at determining how best to help them help the state.
Leon Shaifer: I think it is essential for a compact state to focus on three areas of pre-disaster preparation:
1. Develop, train, and maintain an Advance Team capability
2. Develop and maintain a current list of available resources and anticipated resource shortfalls
3. Develop a Time Phased Force Deployment List from identified shortfalls to ensure timely and consistent arrival of needed mutual-aid resources.
Avagene Moore: Thanks, Leon and Lee. We will open the floor to questions. Please indicate you have a question by typing in a question mark (?) and waiting for recognition before submitting it to our guests. First question, please.
Lee Smith: One point. Ron has relocated to my office. If anyone wants to ask him operations, type questions, he is available.
Avagene Moore: Thanks, Lee. Any questions, folks? Yes, Warren.
Warren Campbell: Did anyone experience the "RED CARD" issue with the US Forestry folks?
Lee Smith: I need "Red Card" explained.
Warren Campbell: We sent 183 Firefighters to Florida, but on more than one occasion when we sent a strike out on a valid mission, the US Forestry folks turned our firefighters back for lack of a Forestry approved certification class, i.e., Red Card in their wallet.
Avagene Moore: Any comments on the red card, Lee or Leon?
Leon Shaifer: This is a matter for addressing to prevent future foul-ups like this caused by certain certification issues.
Lee Smith: Light goes on. I don't know of any problems with our folks.
Avagene Moore: If no other comment, Isabel, your question, please.
Isabel McCurdy: I'm not quite clear on the term "compact state" could you elaborate?
Leon Shaifer: Compact State means an EMAC member state. I think Rich Dieffenback is on-line. Rich is with Council of State Governments and (more or less) project manager to work on EMAC SOPS, etc. Is that right, Rich?
Lee Smith: Compact states are those states where the Emergency Assistance Compact has been ratified by the state government and signed by their Governor.
Avagene Moore: I understand North Carolina was an EMAC player in this activation also. What was their role and what resources did the state provide?
Lee Smith: Is anyone from North Carolina on line?
Avagene Moore: Don't think so, Lee. Can you answer that question?
Lee Smith: If not, North Carolina was a big player in support, both in the A-Team and in the Strike Teams that they sent. They spearheaded the use of rail for movement of the equipment. And they used their SatCom equipment to maintain communications with their A-Team and their Strike Teams.
David Dennis: NC sent considerable resources, I just don't know the numbers. Besides the EMAC forces, they had a lot of forestry there.
Lee Smith: David was one of the Georgia A-Team personnel at the Florida SEOC.
Avagene Moore: Other questions of Lee and Leon? Isabel.
Isabel McCurdy: What is the composition of a strike team?
Leon Shaifer: Let me address this one. Depends on the function. We are attempting to create teams along the functional line that I mentioned in my opening statement, such as 'typing" them by size and expected mission, and equipment needs being provided by the assisting state and well as the type of equipment being provided by the requesting state.
Isabel McCurdy: Military, civilian or both?
Leon Shaifer: Civilian for the most part. Military has a different command and control structure, etc. For example, our Advance teams are comprised by Type I and Type II.
Isabel McCurdy: Is there any particular training that is required?
Leon Shaifer: Training systems are tasked to the EMAC Operations Subcommittee task force. But due to the complexity brought about by some many states and training needs, in the short-term, training is gained during actual deployment.
Lee Smith: In this case, the special training centered on fighting wild fires. The next emergency that requires EMAC support may be a hurricane. The requirements will be different. One of the things that the compact states will need, as Leon mentioned earlier, is to think ahead to the requirements for the "next" disaster.
Leon Shaifer: Good point!
Avagene Moore: Warren, your question.
Warren Campbell: Lesson learned: Florida DEM and most EMAC states seemed to understand and employ the EMAC fine. The rub came when Federal Agencies we worked with could not grasp the concept. Trying to train / explain / market EMAC during the event was not appropriate. Now is a good opportunity to ask NEMA to market /explain EMAC capabilities / limitations and we will do the same with our state agencies.
Leon Shaifer: We have been working with the feds at FEMA HQ level and presented numerous briefings at RISC meetings. In time, perhaps!
Warren Campbell: Sorry gotta run. Amen Leon. Bye folks.
Avagene Moore: Bye, Warren.
Avagene Moore: One last question from me to Leon, Lee or both of you. For the future, do you see the EMAC encompassing all 50 states or other similar compacts being formed to accommodate regional location and proximity?
Lee Smith: Don't know. This is where the individual states have to work out what they want to do. Regional compacts make sense in some ways, because the adjacent states tend to match up in topography and other requirements.
Leon Shaifer: I have stated all along, the compact works best among states within a particular region, for obvious advantages. But it definitely has multi-regional applications; for earthquakes, for example.
Isabel McCurdy: Is there a website where one can gain more info about EMAC?
Avagene Moore: Can one of you respond to Isabel's question? I imagine it is NEMA's site.
Lee Smith: Rich, do you have a site? Ron has left my office to return to his cubicle.
Leon Shaifer: NEMA has one.
Avagene Moore: Thanks to Leon and Lee for being here today. Very informative discussion and an exciting concept. Thanks to the audience also. Any closing remarks?
Leon is back. Any final comment, Lee and Leon?
One thing you may want to mention is the hotwash you have planned in conjunction with the NEMA Conference in September. A little detail on that, please.
Lee Smith: As I mentioned earlier, I think this was a great first test of the EMAC. And I think it passed. As for the hotwash, Leon?
Leon Shaifer: I had to clear up a previous message. We will meet in Tampa on August 20-21 and again in Charleston on Sept 8th.
Isabel McCurdy: Define hotwash?
Lee Smith: Hotwash is when those involved in an activity gather shortly afterwards to discuss what worked and what didn't.
Avagene Moore: Thanks again, Lee and Leon; also Ron. We appreciate your time and effort on our behalf and the EMAC. I am sure we will hearing more about other EMAC activations and activities as the disasters come and go.
Leon Shaifer: In closing, let me say that EMAC is living up to the expectations of its founding fathers and member states.
Ann Willis: Thank you for an interesting program.
Lee Smith: Enjoyed it. Wish you luck with the forum.
Terry Storer: Thanks to all for a good presentation!
Avagene Moore: We are overtime now, everyone. Thanks so much for your attention, interest and cooperation. Join us tomorrow when Amy is 'Live from' the Technology Conference in Argonne, IL. We will be here online at 12 Noon EDT. Be here!