EIIP Virtual Forum Presentation October 27, 2004
EMAC In Action
Responding to the 2004 Hurricanes
Terrence M.I. Egan, Ed.D.
Emergency Management Assistance Compact
The following version of the transcript has been edited for easier reading and comprehension. A raw, unedited transcript is available from our archives. See our home page at http://www.emforum.org
[Welcome / Introduction]
Amy Sebring: On behalf of Avagene Moore and myself, welcome to the EIIP Virtual Forum! Today we are revisiting the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC). We first discussed this topic in a Round Table session in the Forum during July 1998. That transcript is still in our archives, and includes further information about the history of EMAC. We are sure it has come a long way since then, and faced a major test recently in responding to the series of hurricanes that hit Florida within a short time frame.
Now, it is my pleasure to introduce Dr. Terry Egan, immediate past Chair of EMAC, and Manager of the Mitigation, Analysis and Plans Unit, for the Emergency Management Division (EMD) of the Washington Military Department. Dr. Egan joined Washington State Service in 1990 after serving for over 20 years in the U.S. Air Force in a variety of command and staff positions where he retired from active service with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. He is also the principal investigator for a NASA research grant and has the lead for critical infrastructure protection for Washington State.
Also joining us today to help answer your questions is Leon Shaifer, who participated in that earlier session with us. Leon has since retired from the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency, but he continues to stay involved with EMAC. Please note that the Background Page for today's session has further biographical information, as well as links to some relevant resources on today's topic.
Welcome to you both, and thank you for joining us today. I now turn the floor over to Dr Egan to start us off please.
Terry Egan: Thanks Amy. I would like to start off with a question. Did you ever borrow something from one of your neighbors? Borrowing from neighbors is the guiding principle of EMAC only on a grander, national scale. The Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC) is a mutual aid agreement and partnership between states that pledges personnel and equipment resource support in the event of disasters that out strip a state's capability to respond.
EMAC exists because, from hurricanes to earthquakes and from wildfires to toxic waste spills, all states share a common enemy: the constant threat of disaster. This cooperative agreement currently encompasses 48 states, District of Columbia and 2 territories (Virgin Islands & Puerto Rico) as signatories.
Each year one EMAC signatory assumes the National Coordinating Group (NCG) role. The purpose of the National Coordinating Group is to function as the central coordinating element to facilitate the flow of resources from EMAC member states and territories to the requesting disaster-affected state. Washington State Emergency Management Division staff served in the role as the EMAC National Coordinating Group from September 2003, until September 2004.
Since August 11, 2004, in response to Hurricanes Bonnie, Charley, Frances, and Ivan, the Washington State Emergency Management Division staff, serving as the National Coordinating Group, were fully engaged on a daily basis as the national facilitator assisting Florida's Hurricane Disaster response effort with personnel and equipment assistance through EMAC communication channels. For Bonnie, Charley and Frances, EMAC positioned over 550 personnel from 31 states in 18 disciplines: Emergency Operations Center Specialist, Community Relations, Forestry Command, Mass Care, Disaster Recovery Center Management, Human Services, Housing Assistance, Infrastructure Specialist, EMAC A-Team Coordinators, Donations Management, Operations Management, Logistics, Health and Medical Services, Animal Control, Finance and Administration, Administrative Support, Human Resources, and Amateur Radio Operations.
National Guard helicopters, trucks, C-130s, and communication equipment have also been facilitated via the EMAC process. Although the national guard has not been counted in the EMAC totals, they were involved in search and rescue, debris removal, damage, assessment, and air transport, to name but a few of the vital missions they performed during this series of disasters. In short, the disaster response in support of Florida has been the largest EMAC deployment in the history of the compact. Ultimately, the response totaled over 800 people from 38 states.
The Washington State Emergency Management Division recently transferred its role as the EMAC National Coordinating Group to the state of New York. EMD began this transition in August 2004 with an exercise to familiarize New York emergency managers with the processes surrounding EMAC. During this exercise two staff members from Washington State traveled to New York in order to provide training and lessons learned.
During the actual transition, which occurred in the middle of the Florida Hurricanes, a Washington State EMD staff member was dispatched to Albany to work with New York State Emergency Management to facilitate a seamless transition of the National Coordinating Group from Washington to New York State. An absolutely flawless transition was completed at the National Emergency Management Association's annual conference on September 11, 2004 in New York City.
The response to the August and September Hurricanes resulted in staff deployed to the FEMA National Emergency Operations Center (NEOC) at the FEMA Headquarters in Washington, D.C., the Florida EOC in Tallahassee, the Alabama State EOC in Clanton, Disaster Field Offices in both Florida and Alabama and numerous local EOCs in both of those states. This series of events resulted in a number of historic "firsts" in the history of the compact:
Washington was the first National Coordinating Group to come in on a hurricane (Isabel) and go out on three;
First use of FEMA-NEMA reimbursement procedures for personnel deployed to the NEOC;
First deployment of California assets under EMAC (using a Governor-to-Governor agreement under EMAC provisions).
First simultaneous disaster with EMAC personnel deployed working one disaster (Charley) with another occurring (Frances) and again from Frances to Ivan;
First National Coordinating Group transition exercise and first transition exercise with a real event (staffing A-team for Florida);
First National Coordinating Group transition in the middle of a disaster; and,
Was by far, the largest response effort in the history of the compact.
The multiple hurricanes response stressed EMAC procedures and policies as never before. As a result, significant policy discussions will come about as a result of the after action review process. For example, one of the issues that came up early in the event was the issue of animal care. The National Humane Society has staff to provide care, but they are not agents of the state for the purpose of EMAC deployments, nor are they federal agents provided for in the National Response Plan. Nevertheless, the bottom line to the hurricanes of 2004 is that EMAC works - - and works exceedingly well.
That concludes my introduction. Leon and I will be happy to answer your questions, so I will turn the session back over to our Moderator.
Amy Sebring: Thank you very much Terry.
[Audience Questions & Answers]
Rick Tobin: I was curious how the California deployment worked since I was led to understand that EMAC had to be adopted by a state legislature first, which has never happened in California.
Terry Egan: It worked exceedingly well according to the CA OES folks who I talked with. There is a provision in EMAC procedures for a non-EMAC state to assist an EMAC state by signing a Governor to Governor agreement. With the help of the OES Director and Staff we were able to develop a very simple document signed by Governors Bush and Shwarzenegger.
Greg Padgett: Who selects which signatory will be chosen as the National Coordinating Group?
Terry Egan: Glad you asked. On the Chat today is Jeff Phillips from New Mexico who is the EMAC Chair-elect. He was unanimously voted in as the Chair-elect by the EMAC Operations Subcommittee at the NEMA Annual Conference in New York City in September.
Shannon Smith: Does EMAC include assistance with response to public health emergencies, such as bioterrorism?
Terry Egan: Yes, a case in point is the recent hurricane. We dispatched a number of nurses to Florida to assist in patient care. We also used USPS resources as well. In addition, there is a national effort to vet and credential doctors and other health practitioners and to give them hospital privileges. I am on a FEMA-sponsored national working group that is dealing with these issues. I expect that the resolution of these issues will take some time and probably some national legislation.
Chilinda Willis: Were the personnel that EMAC deployed during the hurricane effort tracked by EMAC or by FEMA?
Terry Egan: Yes, tracking is really important. We had to do some forward and retrograde movement of EMAC staffers doing the hurricane, and tracking them and making sure they were in safe locations was a huge issue for us. Safety of our people is job one.
Michael Hind: What methods did EMAC use for tracking?
Terry Egan: EMAC A-teams on the ground are responsible for tracking the whereabouts of EMAC assets (people and equipment) that are deployed to an affected state, both for safety and accountability reasons.
Avagene Moore: Terry, how is EMAC connected as far as communications in times of activation or for communications between activations?
Terry Egan: The A-teams maintain rosters of personnel and equipment showing their location and employment. For EMAC personnel, they keep information on whom they are working for, where they are billeted, and how to reach them in an emergency. If a state needs assistance they can call, fax, or email the National Coordinating Group. The NCG will respond in a timely fashion. There is also an EMAC Web site that member states can access to send out what we refer to as an "EMAC Blast" that goes to all member states. This can be used to "shop" for resources or to request them outright, or a state can go directly to another member state directly for assistance, as did West Virginia three times in the past year. They had flooding problems and secured assistance from the Virginia National Guard -- trucks, drivers, etc.
Greg Padgett: Were there any shortages based on requests for personnel or materials, or were all requests able to be met?
Terry Egan: During Hurricane Isabel last year, which was the first EMAC event that we worked, we ran out of Individual Assistance and Public Assistance specialists. Keep in mind that we do not accumulate resources; we fill orders on a first-come, first-served basis.
Leon Shaifer: Due to the length of the operations, the NCG had to go back to states that have been previously helped to recruit A-Team personnel to fill the continued needs. This put a lot of pressure on the NCG, but the states met the challenge.
Lloyd Bokman: State government resources going to another state through EMAC seems to work well. How would you say most EMAC states do in getting its local government resources identified, mobilized and deployed to another state through the home state and EMAC? Do most states have internal or intrastate procedures or databases in place to accomplish this task?
Terry Egan: Good question. One of the biggest issues that came up was I had several calls from states wanting to know how to make a local emergency management employee an agent of the state for the purposes of EMAC deployments. My reply was, "I don't know how your state laws read, but here's how we do it." We sign an MOA with local jurisdictions and this is how we make them an agent of the state.
Leon Shaifer: This can be accomplished legally in a number of ways. The state can use locals via a State (specific) reservists type program or pre-disaster contractual arrangements or, as Terry stated, an MOU (memorandum or understanding). The important thing that must exist as far as the Compact language is concerned is that anyone sent to another state under EMAC must be considered a state employee or an express or implied agent of the state in order to obtain protection under the law for Worker's Comp and legal liability.
Lauren McLane: Who pays for resources activated through EMAC both on FEMA declared disasters and on non-FEMA disasters?
Terry Egan: Another good question. Initially, the requested state does. One of the key provisions of the EMAC compact is that the requesting state guarantee payment to assisting states. That resolves a lot of uncertainty; however, FEMA will reimburse requesting states up to 75% of costs in a presidentially-declared disaster. States have found that paying 25% of the cost is more than acceptable if they can get the help they need in a timely fashion. Deployments can happen in a matter of hours and typically last from one to two weeks.
Leon Shaifer: FEMA R&R Policy 9523.6 requires that mutual aid agreements must be in place prior to a declaration in order for those costs to be eligible.
Amy Sebring: Leon, I understand you have been involved with the resource-typing effort under NIMS. How does that tie in with EMAC?
Leon Shaifer: That project is critically important. It will ultimately expedite the identification of specific resources, what the capability of those resources are, who is the POC for acquiring those resources and finally, ensuring that the requesting state is getting exactly what they need, when they need it. Approximately 66 various resources have been typed so far, and at least that many more will be finished (hopefully) by the end of December, and made available on the FEMA Web site.
Isabel McCurdy: Since disasters have no borders and shortages occur as evidenced in the recent flu vaccine, does EMAC have Canadian contacts or is EMAC strictly an American-based initiative?
Leon Shaifer: EMAC cannot enter into agreements with another country. The U. S. Congress authorized EMAC in Public Law 104-321, and EMAC is therefore a state-to-state agreement; however the states in both the Northeast and Northwest have entered into agreements with Canadian provinces using EMAC as a guide, so to speak.
Greg Padgett: Back on the "who pays issue" -- I understand that there is a procedure where FEMA will reimburse 100% of all costs in a disaster during a certain timeframe immediately following the event. In that case, if a state sends resources during that event, would it be eligible for the 100% reimbursement as well?
Leon Shaifer: I wasn't sure that FEMA paid anything 100% any more; however having said that, if a state has a pre-existing mutual aid compact in place and implements that agreement during a disaster, and subsequently the Governor of that state requests the President to declare an emergency declaration (Section 401 Stafford Act), then the state would be eligible for no less than 90% of all eligible costs for categories A and B.
Jeff Phillips: In Greg's question the issue is the assisting state. The assisting state will be made whole.
Terry Egan: Let me just reiterate what Jeff said. The assisting state is going to be reimbursed under any circumstances because the provisions of the compact mandate it, and when we request resources we sign a document called a Request-A, which is a legal contract between the requesting and the assisting states.
Amy Sebring: Leon, EMAC/NEMA has also developed a model intrastate mutual aid agreement. Have any states gone through that process that you know of?
Leon Shaifer: A number of states have Intrastate Compacts that pre-date the NEMA Intrastate Mutual Aid model; however, the Model will help those states without mutual aid agreements to comply with the legal requirements within their particular state.
Chris Lynch: How are the A-Teams are determined?
Terry Egan: We determined teams based on what we new about their experience in deployments. We are working on a database that will type folks so we can mix and match experienced folks with newbies.
Leon Shaifer: Chris, are you asking about A-Team composition?
Chris Lynch: Yes.
Leon Shaifer: Each member state has the responsibility for recruiting and maintaining an A-Team comprised of at least 2 to 4 individuals who have received the EMAC A-Team training. The A-Teams are responsible for deploying to an affected state upon their request to broker resources on behalf of the Requesting State. The Requesting State pays for their expenses via the REQ-A process, which is virtually a legal contract when properly executed by the Authorized Representatives of both the Requesting and Assisting States.
Amy Sebring: That's all we have time for today. Thank you very much Terry and Leon for taking the time to share this information with us today. Great job. We wish you continued success in your efforts. Please stand by a moment while we make some quick announcements.
We have a new partner to announce, the International Center for Enterprise Preparedness (InterCEP), URL http://www.nyu.edu/ccpr/rojects/intercep.html, and POC: Catharine Taylor, Program Executive. We are very pleased to welcome InterCEP. If your organization is interested in becoming an EIIP Partner, please see the link on our home page, Partnership for You.
Again, the transcript will be posted late this afternoon and you will be able to access it from our home page or the background page. We also have a great archive of transcripts, which you can access by topic from the home page.
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Thanks to everyone for participating today -- great questions and comments. We stand adjourned but before you go, please help me show our appreciation to Terry and Leon for a fine job.