EM Forum Presentation February 11, 2009
America's Under-served Communities
A Group Discussion on the Challenges of Rural Emergency Management
Dianna H. Bryant, CIH, CSP
Associate Professor and Director
Institute for Rural Emergency Management
College of Health and Human Services
University of Central Missouri
The introduction, presentation and closing parts of the transcript are prepared remarks and not necessarily verbatim. The Q&A responses are prepared from a transcription of the recording. The complete slide set (Adobe PDF) may be downloaded from http://www.emforum.org/vforum/IREM/IREM.pdf for ease of printing.
[Welcome / Introduction]
Amy Sebring: Good morning/afternoon everyone. Welcome to EMforum.org. This will be our first time to attempt a "group discussion" in this Live Meeting venue, so it will be more or less an experiment for all of us. We are counting on your participation AND your patience!
With the recent ice storms that have hit rural areas of the country, we were reminded of the discrepancies between the haves and have nots when it comes to emergency management programs. So todays topic is "Americas Under-served Communities: The Challenges of Rural Emergency Management."
Now, that is not to say that individuals living in those communities are not resilient and self-reliant. Its more that there are limited available resources to provide basic emergency management services, both before and after disasters. I am also sure there are dedicated individuals in those communities struggling to meet the challenges, frequently on their own, and we hope some of them are with us today and can share their experiences.
The post-Katrina Reform Act established "Small State and Rural Advocate" position within FEMA. We wondered whether such an advocacy office might be useful at the state level and hence this weeks poll question on our homepage. "Should a rural ombudsman/ advocate be included in state EM agencies?Yes or No." Please take time to participate by voting and review the results thus far.
Now it is my pleasure to introduce todays guest speaker: Dianna H. Bryant is an environmental health professional with research interests in emergency preparedness. She is currently the Director of the Institute for Rural Emergency Management (IREM) and Program Coordinator for the BS in Crisis and Disaster Management at the University of Central Missouri in the College of Health and Human Services.
The Institute has worked with not-for-profits organizations, LEPC's, economic development agencies, and emergency services departments and provided students with experience in emergency preparedness and recovery planning. Currently IREM is creating a student team, DART, to provide community preparedness and recovery support services in rural Missouri.
As a tenured Associate Professor of Industrial Hygiene, she has taught graduate and undergraduate courses in the fields of industrial hygiene and safety. Ms. Bryant has worked as a public health specialist and hazardous materials emergency responder.
Welcome Dianna, and thank you for being with us today. I now turn the floor over to you to start us off please.
Dianna Bryant: Thank you.
Just a little background on the university that I teach atit is in a town of 15,000 people with a student population of about 11,000. The county is one county away from the county that Kansas City, Missouri is in, so we are within an hour of a large urban center but are relatively rural county.
The B.S. degree in Crisis and Disaster Management that I direct was approved by the state of Missouri in April of 2001, so weve been educating students in this area. There are three option areas in the program as you can see from the slide: Emergency Management, Hazardous Materials, and Business Continuity. We are the only undergraduate program in the U.S. that has business continuity courses in it, and an option area for that.
As you know, in the field of Emergency Management experience is a very important thing. The Institute for Rural Emergency Management was created in 2005 to provide a linkage to the community to help engage students in service learning opportunities, and to provide needed resources to a lot of the rural communities that these students also come from. Our courses are taught online, so most of the students remain in the community that theyre serving in, rather than relocate to the campus.
Just a few thoughts about the challenges of rural emergency management:
As weve been working with rural communities, there are some issues that weve noticed that are much more profound in rural areas than in urban areas. Principally, I have categorized them in four main areas: Capability, Accessibility, Remoteness, and Density.
Capability includes a wide range of issues, and we are really looking at the capacity of rural communities to address emergency management needs. We often think of that in terms of manpower, but also capital. In sociological terms we talk about capital in a lot of different ways human, financial, natural, cultural, political, and social capital. Social capital is the one you might hear about the most, and rural communities have issues with population. Population is declining. A lot of this is due to the out-migration of young, educated residents. As a lot of young people go to college, many of them do not return to their rural communities, and this has an impact on the availability of young people in emergency services.
Consequently then, we see an increase in aging population in rural areas, and also, increasing poverty. The people that do remain in these rural areas are disproportionately poor compared to, especially, the suburban areas often as poor as some of the very inner city urban areas that we think of when we think of poverty.
Our manpower needs in rural areas are generally met with volunteers, so most of the emergency services agencies are also staffed predominantly by volunteers. This is very much different than we see in urban areas.
Financial issues, of course we know that most of the funding for emergency services, outside of what might be federal funding or grants, depends upon the tax base of the local jurisdiction. As I mentioned earlier, the increasing rates of poverty means that theres less revenue from taxes to fund those organizations. Weve also seen the trends in government funding and grants, concentrated in what are the high-density areas, and what are considered to be the high terrorist threat areas and those are urban areas.
Also, the change in the population demographic means that we have some shortage in expertise, and this goes for everything from engineers to look at damage assessments and building construction, to legal advice, to even the Boards that are elected to run the emergency service agencies not having the kind of expertise that Boards would have in an urban area.
Accessibility is another theme that comes up often when we look at things like ICS-100 and ICS-700 only being available online; and yet, a lot of rural communities do not have adequate broadband and Internet connection. Many rural fire departments do not have Internet access, so the availability of keeping up with the required training is becoming more and more difficult. This expands into other communication realms, like cell phone serve, a thing we take pretty much for granted in urban/suburban areas.
Remoteness is another big theme, and if anyone has looked at the USAA report on mitigating the rural fire problem, you see that this is another theme. They call it separation by distance, both individuals from each other and from community centers. This creates increased response times to go out and meet the needs of people, and also issues sometimes in just being able to get there because of the poor quality of the roads. The remoteness or separateness, depending upon whose theme you are looking at, is an important issue, and also ties into density.
As people are more separated, they are then less dense. We see that a lot of attention at the federal level, for funding, is based upon "more bang for the buck," where you can get economies of scale, and that means more people in smaller areas. There are a couple of definitions out there for what is rural. I like tone that is used in rural health, which is based on population density per square mile. The Census looked at communities of less than 2500. We also realize that there are very rural areas in counties that have a lot of population concentrated in small areas. Density isnt necessarily a magic value, but it is something to be considered.
I just want to leave you with a couple of thoughts about the impact of federal and state emergency management agency programs and activities on rural emergency management agencies.
Because a lot of these agencies are staffed by volunteers, (sometimes even one, or a fraction of the time, or in combination with other responsibilities), the ability to attend required, or even recommended training means that they often do this without compensation. So they are attending training on their own time, and if they have another full time job, it may mean that theyre actually using their vacation time, or taking off without pay.
When we look at even the exercise scenarios in the NIMS 300 and 400 courses, they represent equipment and manpower capabilities unrealistic in rural areas. This makes it difficult sometimes for rural emergency responders to even take it seriously. But theyre required to attend this training when it doesnt really deal with issues that are relevant to them. We see that even incidents much, much smaller than the kind of scenarios in the NIMS courses overwhelm the resources available in these rural communities. It doesnt require an exotic mass casualty terrorist incident to create a scenario where they are exceeding their capacity and need to call mutual aid or outside resources.
Even an event with 10 or so injuries that require trauma care is a significant problem, especially as we again think about the remoteness and the distance, and how long it takes to get injured individuals to trauma care centers that may be hours away. In my county we rely a lot on helicopter transport of any trauma care people to the Kansas City metropolitan area, which then certainly raises the cost to the individual.
The cost of services is an interesting issue, especially as we consider that we, in a democracy, expect that theres equal access to government services. I question whether thats actually true in the rural areas. Many of these places do not have the same level of service it costs more to have even close to equivalent services. Is this really an equitable arrangement, the way that we fund emergency services and emergency management overall? That concludes my remarks.
Amy Sebring: Thank you very much Dianna. Now we will proceed to our discussion. We are also interested in hearing about your experiences and your particular challenges if you happen to be from one of these rural communities.
Question 1.While federal priorities have shifted from terrorism to catastrophic natural disasters, from bioterrorism to pandemic flu, small and rural communities may have different needs. What should these communities focus on, given the limited resources available?
Dianna Bryant: It seems that one solution is going to be enhanced use of volunteers. I think this is one are where we see big differences between the perceived value of cultivating volunteers in urban areas relative to rural areas. Its a requirement in rural areas if were going to expand manpower capabilities. Theres going to have to be enhanced use of volunteers and development of volunteers and retention and incentives for those volunteers to continue to give their time to support Emergency Management.
Moderator: This question also goes to what are some of the essential capabilities that these communities need to concentrate their efforts on. Maybe not exotic chemical attacks, but more common disasters they are more likely to encounter. What capabilities do they really need, whether its communications capabilities, response organization, etc.?
Rhonda Grandi: I think that rural communities MUST take an All-Hazards approach and focus primarily on community preparedness in general to make these areas self-sufficient in a disaster or emergency situation.
Greg Moser: The term "all hazards" tends to be interpreted as a need for a plan for every likely contingency. The result is we feel overwhelmed by a need for a library of plans. I am working with small communities in Colorado based on consequences. A consequence base planning approach can provide us with solid basic plan that is achievable.
Dennis Hull: Enhanced communications are needed in many rural areas. Cell phone towers are along main roads. TV/radio concentrate on disasters in larger cities.
Pat Hays-Moore: One of my colleagues feels that training, education and volunteer development
Douglas Hess: I think there needs to be an emphasis on training for volunteers and the first responders. Grants are pretty easy to get for "stuff" but you can't get money to train people to use it or work the emergency plans in place.
Colin Whitmore: In doing exercises in some very rural areas in the the midwest, I've often seen that the response to a natural disaster is well-planned and coordinated but that recovery is always lacking. Volunteers are usually happy to respond to "the big one" but tend to be unavailable for long-term recovery efforts.
Dianna Bryant: I think Colin makes a really good point which is, when you have volunteers, how long can they be engaged in some type of activity? So response tends to catch peoples attention; recovery is much more difficult to staff.
John Tallas: As a backdrop to my response is my belief that we continue to see increased, albeit unresourced, requirements. In Coffee County, 9 of our 10 fire departments are volunteer. Many of those members have one or possibly two jobs so it's difficult to get folks to complete required training. In rural communities, we must continue to focus on improving our readiness posture and maximize limited opportunities to do so.
Rick Heers: Shouldn't an active CERT or similar program be instituted to help be prepared in the locality?
Dianna Bryant: I think its really important that a CERT program requires that somebody manages it. That means your emergency management people are then focusing a lot of energy on cultivating a CERT program. It becomes difficult to make your choices between updating your plans, or doing coordination with other agencies, or working on a CERT team. Ive just seen many people have very difficult choices to make in doing that.
Also, people in the emergency management profession do not have a lot of preparation for handling volunteers -- how to keep volunteers interested, how to keep them motivated, what kinds of reward systems you need to have. If youve worked in non-profit organizations that rely on volunteers, this is a big emphasis. But Im not sure that emergency management professionals were focusing on how you cultivate and maintain volunteers.
Dave Maser: Local capabilities need to be geared toward the particular hazards they face. High probability / severe consequence / frequently occurring incidents.
Mark Warnick: Do you think that it would be advantageous to re-implement a Homeland Defense Equipment Reuse Program using excess equipment from the federal government?
Dianna Bryant: I think equipment is really important, but as pointed out by one of the comments, there isnt any money for training so sometimes equipment is easier to get than it is to actually get people trained to use the equipment.
Avagene Moore: Family preparedness must be stressed. Self-preparedness and resiliency is vital.
Question 2. Could realistic planning guidance, developed specifically for small and rural communities, be helpful?
Dianna Bryant: I think it is important to show that there are contrasting needs between urban and rural. It seems odd, though, to have two dual tracks. Were going to have planning guidance for urban areas and then planning guidance for rural areas, but I think that you do have people that end up often in rural communities having to learn the same lessons again and again and again. We dont share a lot of best practices and show what has been successful in some areas so that others can learn from that.
Moderator: This question also goes to, we have certain planning assumptions. Quite often local plans are done based on state templates, and there are certain planning assumptions that may not be valid for the small communities. I just wondered if some effort to recognize these unique challenges and tailor some of these best practices into guidance for these smaller communities might not be helpful. Wed be interested, what do our participants think?
Dianna Bryant: I guess I would ask who would write that planning guidance? I think theres some disconnect between who is in charge of writing these documents and what they would know about rural communities.
Moderator: And thats a good question that well get to later on.
Pat Hays-Moore: Yes, as long as thorough assessment is done, recognizing that one size does not fit all. It is important to note differences given economic, cultural and geographic differences --- state EM entities should work with local folks.
Greg Moser: Yes. Plan based on the common consequences, not specific hazards. Also develop a crisis action guide that can enable small communities to quickly transition from routine to crisis operations and enable themselves to effectively receive county, state, and federal assistance. The private sector must also be involved due to the role they play in restoring basic services. This an approach we are taking in several communities in my state.
Dianna Bryant: A very good point. I think engaging the private sector is often lower on the priority list than working with other emergency services and government agencies. In rural communities, thats probably not as high of a priority.
Rick Heers: Our Long Term Disaster Recovery Organization in Immokalee, FL received a community grant after Wilma, and has a fairly well-developed plan that helps tie us with the county EOC an hour away. Couldn't there be a place to share these plans, so that all could benefit from having access to them? Like a clearinghouse to provide access to them.
John Tallas: The short answer is yes. There seems to be a disconnect between the view of the world at the federal level and the reality of life in the local/rural area. If federal planners better understood the challenges and needs of rural emergency managers, planning guidance would be more useful and applicable.
Dianna Bryant: Agreed. The challenge is finding the group who would help write the guidance and who would review that and weigh in on it. Unfortunately the people who have the expertise are already so busy trying to balance the needs of their local communities they find it difficult to attend or engage in other collaborative activities outside of their local communities, where they could share their best practices.
Dave Maser: How would additional guidance assist local Emergency Managers who work 1/4 time?
Question 3. Few of these communities have the resources to meet the technical requirements for FEMA approved mitigation plans, which may prevent them from qualifying for post-disaster mitigation grants (HMGP). Should small and rural communities be exempted from this requirement?
Dianna Bryant: Having long, detailed plans is a barrier to local communities being able to comply. Having some streamlined or expedited requirements would be nice, especially if it was based upon population of the community, or whether or not they had a full-time Emergency Manager to actually work on the plans.
John Tallas: No. Having experienced two tornadoes in the past two years, we know the value of an all-hazards, multi-jurisdictional mitigation plan. Rather than exempting communities from the requirement, efforts should be made to resource them to get the plan done.
Dianna Bryant: My counterpoint to that is that in my state, a lot of communities were provided with outside consultants to write their plans, and what I find is that almost none of them have actually read the plan that was written by somebody else for them.
Dennis Hull: In large cities, TV media will often video document a disaster very well via aircraft, interviews, and other on-scene video. No so in small towns.
Mark Warnick: There should be a sliding scale based on population.
Greg Moser: It varies from state to state, but in Colorado our counties and all-hazards regions coordinate hazards mitigation plans for our smaller towns.
Question 4. Should portions of the federal funds available under various grant programs be set aside for small and rural communities to achieve a baseline "all hazards" capability?
Dianna Bryant: Well, I certainly agree. I think this is about equal access under the law. Rural residents should have the same right to have some capability that protects them. Without having federal support for that, its not going to be funded at the local level.
Douglas Hess: Yes. Because now with our LEPC, the only money we get are SERC and HMEP grants that are still geared only to HAZ-MAT even though we are supposed to be All Hazards. The other issue is that the grant funds can't cross state lines which is a problem for border counties since disasters don't recognize political subdivision marks.
Dianna Bryant: Excellent comment. I think LEPCs are particularly challenged, and weve had them now for 20 years. The state of their HAZ-MAT plans, especially in rural communities, a number of studies have been done on this in terms of how few, as many as 25-40%, do not have updated plans.
Mark Warnick: It bothers me deeply that funding is sent to larger cities while rural communities are ignored, especially in funding.
Rhonda Grandi: Yes, and maybe not necessarily targeted to individual counties specifically, but to several counties or Regions within each state with similar needs to meet a common goal in their all-hazards planning and capabilities.
John Tallas: I believe this could relate to the previous question. The fact that some communities hired consultants to write their plans and then failed to read them reflects poorly on those community planners. Having said that, my answer is yes. Poor community planners/emergency managers should be replaced.
Amy Hughes: In response to the statement on training, DHS/FEMA funds the Rural Domestic Preparedness Consortium, a grant funded consortium of academic institutions tasked with developing and delivering training tailored specifically for the rural emergency responder community. Training is completely free and includes a selection of web-based and instructor-led/on site training. Information can be found at www.ruraltraining.org or call 859-622-8825. Several courses are DHS certified with many more in the pipeline. Training can be delivered in one sitting, or broken up to meet the time demands of rural responders. The training is developed with an all hazards focus, not specifically a terrorism or WMD focus. Brief descriptions of each course are located on the site.
Hollye Carpenter: Most all grant funds now available are through a competitive process. It's difficult to compete with the metro areas. Having a pot for rural localities to equally compete would put things on a more equal playing ground.
Dianna Bryant: Good point because again, who has professional grant writers that can craft the proposal to attain the best score?
Lauren O'Brien: One problem is that we don't have a grant writer and can't afford to hire one. This makes it hard to obtain grants.
Question 5. Should state and federal response planning incorporate strategies be based on an assumption that small and rural communities will be almost immediately overwhelmed by an average sized disaster?
Dianna Bryant: In our state, were doing regionalized teams to try to build up regional capabilities realizing that is going to happen, and providing resources that can respond sooner; but "sooner" is still an hour or two away. You have to be overwhelmed and then request help, and that process of requesting help consumes time, and when you have volunteers who are showing up and they are overwhelmed, its difficult for them to spend the time to get on the phone or get on the Internet to be able to make requests.
Mutual aid is a much more rapid kind of assistance response, and thats fine if its just a localized event. But if its a regional event, those mutual aid agreements are really not going to be helpful because those communities are going to need their own resources.
Mark Warnick: Well meaning volunteers (although not called upon) can also be the disaster after the disaster. That happened in Katrina and on 9/11.
Dianna Bryant: Especially in the concept of citizen responder, and CERT plays on that, that we should increase capabilities of people. I think Avagenes comment earlier about having more citizen-based preparedness, household preparedness, thats really the concept behind CERT. Should there be maybe some re-energizing of the initiative to get CERT done in these rural communities, and would that be some kind of federally-funded initiative? Whereas, in the way it is now where the money comes trickling down through the state Citizen Corps down to the local areas, they have to apply for that, so that means you have to write for it. And that may not get done.
Bruce McFarlane: I just came from a statewide meeting in Alaska, and their rural communities do not have communication resources to request for help. No help from the State is apparent.
John Tallas: We too have regional capabilities. We also pride ourselves in being self-sufficient (to a point). The danger here and speaking from experience, spontaneous response can be part of the problem vice part of the solution.
Question 6. There are almost no state disaster assistance funds, yet geographically limited events seldom meet the requirements of presidential disaster declarations, while the losses are equally disastrous for the victims. Should a national mechanism be found to establish state disaster funds?
Dianna Bryant: Its particularly true in recovery. How do we get these communities that are impacted by what might be a local event that doesnt hit the dollar value becoming a presidentially declared disaster, how do we help them recover and get back, or do we just let them struggle with the impact of that event? We havent really addressed how that funding for recovery is contingent upon it being a large event that covers a large value of damage. I think some state funding or some mechanism to provide recovery assistance, even if it is a locally impacted event.
Amy Sebring: As long as Ive been in the business we struggled to attempt to set up state disaster funds to provide some assistance to victims when they cant get a federal individual assistance declaration. Florida has one; Texas has one except its seldom funded. Theres seldom any money in it, and when there has been money its been a very small amount of money, because apparently the concern there is you dont want to tie up the funds just sitting in an account somewhere. In Texas, what we tried to do was follow Floridas model where there was a surcharge on insurance policies, and that attempt didnt get anywhere.
Dianna Bryant: There are some assumptions that our system is based on, that these are insured losses, and so people will be able to get assistance from the insurance companies, and that may not always be true. There is also the assumption that there are social service agencies or disaster response organizations like the Red Cross. In the last decade, Red Cross has consolidated its operations into larger urban areas, and a lot of these remote rural areas dont have the same kind of services from those agencies that they used to.
Douglas Hess: Yes. Because a lot of times you get offered SBA loans even in a big disaster, but the companies can't afford to pay those back and may not even need a big loan- just some money to get back.
Rhonda Grandi: Wouldn't that be kind of like a "savings plan," which I don't see the federal government doing anytime in the near future, but this would seem like a way of ultimately minimizing overall losses.
Lauren O'Brien: We live on the coast and have losses every year. Out Local monies are quickly depleted. Our Local Public Works can't even keep up on repairs to our infrastructure.
John Tallas: I think the Feds could provide impetus to start such a program but believe it is a State's responsibility. Alabama is pushing legislation to establish such a fund but it does not provide a source for the funding; presumably the General Fund.
Question 7. Small and rural communities seldom have the staff to do public assistance projects, even if the cost share were available. What resources could help fill this gap?
Dianna Bryant: Its a very difficult thing. I think the point about a little bit of investment up front saving a lot of money on the back end is important, and who can we get to be those investors? I think that insurance companies certainly have a lot of savings to experience if the impact of events are minimized through mitigation, and maybe theres something there, but that would be probably in the terms of premium reduction. We see that with ISO codes and those kinds of things that help reduce the cost to the individual, but not really providing funding to the community.
Dennis Hull: State could establish regional liaisons or subject matter experts so that the local EM does not necessarily need to be bogged down with learning all administrative details or be an expert on every potential disaster. The local EM only needs to be an expert for local contacts and resources.
Amy Sebring: One of the things we come across, and not just in a rural community, is the complexity of the Benefit Cost Analysis (BCA), and even having an expert at the state level has been a challenge for us.
Dianna Bryant: Many states have emergency support teams or incident support teams that will go out and help rural communities; it just depends on how many incidents you have. And certainly when you have a large regional ice storm, who gets the team and who doesnt? Thats a very difficult rationing of limited services.
If anybodys ever gotten grant money, you know how difficult it is to spend. It seems like youre getting money for something but it can take years to go through the procurement, especially if its a publics works project, you have to have engineers that have to build it.
Question 8. If small and rural communities need advocates at the state and national level, what organizations could serve this purpose?
Dianna Bryant: I think Citizen Corps can; thats kind of the point of Citizen Corps. You have to ration that certain positions are dedicated to rural representation, and not just let it be overwhelmed by the availability of people in large urban areas. Again, the participation of volunteers that arent getting funded and so there needs to be some funding for travel and support for people from rural communities, to serve as liaisons or representatives on other panels.
Moderator: If anyone in our audience knows, we now have FEMAs National Advisory Council, and Im curious if they have dedicated any representation on that for small and rural communities. Were also thinking here in terms of professional organizations, whether they be public administration, NEMA, IAEM, NACo perhaps.
Dianna Bryant: I think ICMA, PERI; there are other organizations that do public policy work. PERI is the Public Entity Risk Institute. When youre trying to shape policy, and youre trying to influence state and national programs, thats a policy issue and you have to be able to craft the information thats needed to lobby for what you want.
Douglas Hess: Since each county is supposed to have an LEPC. If they had a state representatives or regional people to advocate that might help. They are normally made up of the emergency responders and others who would know best what the rural areas need.
Bonnie Morrison: Have you talked about animal representation yet? I am the Ohio State Coordinator for United Animal Nations EARS and can fill that role for the rural areas.
Bruce McFarlane: On the special needs front, Illinois and New Jersey has established Special Needs Advisory Panels (SNAPs) that reach out into the communities for emergency planning and inclusion of people with disabilities.
Rick Heers: State VOAD's, Volunteer USA and even faith-based organizations like FIND (Florida Inter-faith Networking in Disasters) could certainly assist in advocating for us.
Jaime Longoria: Along the Texas Mexico Border, our Ombudsman Offices serve to advocate for the needs of rural communities called colonias. We are working to bring the needs of these EM communities to light.
Pat Hays-Moore: What about faith-based orgs or civic organizations, like local rotary?
John Tallas: We use our Alabama Association of County Commissions and to a lesser degree the League of Municipalities.
Mark Warnick: Why not use the rural caucus in Congress?
Question 9. Could a voluntary, national mentoring program help provide technical assistance to these communities?
Dianna Bryant: I think AmeriCorps is one group that has done some work with disaster assistance. I think we may see, and hopefully we would see, something equivalent to AmeriCorps or Peace Corps, where we could service learning commitments, where we could meet up young, energetic college students, who really want to make a difference, to provide services in this area to rural communities. Weve seen it on other kinds of initiatives, fighting poverty or other things. Why not for helping with mitigation, preparedness, and recovery from events, whether they are local or regional?
Im forming a student group, DART, to help both my students gain experience, but also meet the needs of rural communities. Certainly we are only able to serve a regional area where we are, but because the Higher Education Project has created, or at least empowered the creation of, a number of academic programs out there, there are a number of students. IAEM does have a student group that is growing all the time. I think that is a possibility, to connect up this resource in terms of providing support to communities. Its just a large management nightmare to do that, and it would require support.
Pat Hays-Moore: Retired senior volunteer programs (RSVP) or student interns from the state schools, etc.
Question 10. Could inter- and intra- state mutual aid agreements be used more effectively to provide pre- and post- disaster emergency management assistance to small and rural communities?
Dianna Bryant: I think especially the post-disaster recovery. We probably are not using mutual aid because most mutual aid is with response agencies. We probably could do a lot more with disaster recovery operations and getting resources shared for that. I think our focus tends to be on the response aspect of it, and as pointed out earlier, there is a lot of activity there, but once the event is kind of concluded, trying to help these communities recover is much more difficult to fund and staff.
Douglas Hess: Yes. But as I mentioned above- not just mutual aid- but allow the regions to cross state borders since the paperwork nightmare of who is paying for someone to work out of state would be a problem.
Rhonda Grandi: Most definitely, but unfortunately the legalities from state-to-state is a huge barrier to actually putting this in place. We are currently working on this issue between California counties who border Nevada.
Mark Warnick: Thank you very much for a much needed focus on the rural communities. I hope this is a beginning for further discussion.
John Tallas: It appears that this is an evolutionary process. The Emergency Management Assistance Compact, the Alabama Mutual Assistance System and our regional mutual assistance agreements work well but certainly can always be refined. I think an area that is still lacking is the unmet needs portion of the recovery process.
Amy Sebring: Time to wrap for today. Dianna, thank so much for an excellent job. We hope that your Institute will be successful, and be a leader in bringing some attention to these issues.
Dianna Bryant: Well, thank you so much for inviting me to participate in this.
Amy Sebring: Please stand by just a moment while we make a couple of quick announcements...
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Thank you everyone for participating and we stand adjourned. Please come again.