[Welcome / Introduction]
Amy Sebring: Good morning/afternoon everyone and welcome to
EMForum.org. I am Amy Sebring and will serve as your Host and Moderator
today and we are very glad you could join us.
Our program today is about a relatively new organization for tribal
emergency managers, iTEMA. The mission of iTEMA is to promote a
collaborative, multi-disciplinary approach to prepare for, protect
against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate against all hazards that
impact Tribal communities.
Now it is my pleasure to introduce Jake Heflin, President and CEO of
iTEMA. Jake has been involved in emergency services for over 22
years and is a Firefighter/Paramedic for the City of Long Beach Fire
Department. He is currently assigned to the Community Services Division
serving as the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Program Manager.
Also joining us is Regina Marotto, Secretary and Chief Administrative
Officer for the organization. An emergency management
professional, she currently serves as Acting Director for the
Inter-Tribal Emergency Response Commission, a department with the
Inter-Tribal Council of Nevada.
Welcome to you both and thank you very much for taking the time to be
with us today. I now turn the floor over to Jake to start us off please.
Jake Heflin: Thank you, Amy. I really appreciate the
invitation to participate in EM Forum and we are excited about the
opportunity to share about iTEMA, too—those who have called in today and
are participating and are interested in what we have to offer and what
we are moving toward as far as an organization for and by Indian
I am Jake Heflin and I am an enrolled member of the Osage Nation out of
Oklahoma and the President and Interim CEO of iTEMA which is the Tribal
Emergency Management Association and I also have on my line my
counterpart, Regina Marotto who is also the Secretary and Chief of
Administrative Officer for iTEMA as well.
We are excited to share this information with you and we look forward to
your feedback and questions as we move forward with this discussion.
Without further ado we’ll get started on the presentation.
When we started this effort it was based on a series of conversations
throughout Indian Country. As we went through Indian Country
participating in different events, classes, educational opportunities
and conferences we found that emergency management is a small community
but tribal emergency management is even smaller.
We saw a lot of the same people over and over again that were continuing
to express some of the same challenges that they had within their own
communities on how to deal with and respond to these disasters that
impacted their communities. As we continued to have some of these
conversations we collectively came up with a vision or shared vision to
develop an organization that wasn’t discipline specific but was more
collaborative and more multi-discipline in regard with all the players
that participate in an emergency incident.
We started looking at the other organizations out there and realized
there was a great opportunity for us to go out and reach out to those
organizations that existed with a single discipline focus. As we
went into that effort we identified through the organization of what
collectively became iTEMA that we could create an effort that was not
only specific to emergency management but could also include elements of
fire, emergency management, EMS, homeland security, law enforcement,
public health, incident management and all those things that are related
to managing the large scale incidents.
I’ll get into that a little further but that is the impetus behind how
this effort started, how these conversations developed as a ground swell
and why the organization was created. That is what the mission
statement talks about—promoting the collaborative, multi-disciplinary
approach to coordinate and enhance emergency management and to develop
capability and capacity throughout Indian Country.
We see that typically on average in Indian Country—and obviously there
are exceptions to this and there are some very robust and very advanced
programs throughout Indian Country—but by and large the individual who
is responsible for emergency management typically wears three or four
different hats and may not have the support structure within the tribal
organization to support and respond to the management of a larger scale
We talked about enhancing not only emergency management but the response
capability and recovery to protect all tribal communities. That
really summarized what we wanted to accomplish without organization and
what we set out to accomplish with the creation of iTEMA.
How did we do that? We sent out a survey and basically I’m going
to go into the survey here. A lot of people say they understand
Tribal Emergency Management Association but what does the “i”
mean? Where did that come from? This is a unique
conversation but I think what the “i” stands for is unique to iTEMA in
That is really what it means to us. There are multiple meanings but that
lowercase “i” was chosen to show humility. That gives individual
ownership in the association but the “i” becomes one within the context
of the team or “TEMA”—you as the individual become part of the
association to create that team effort. The “i” stands for Indian,
indigenous, international—we have our first nation brothers and sisters
and aboriginal brothers and sisters in Australia and New Zealand.
Obviously we are not at that point yet but we realize with our native
Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders that some of these challenges we
experience as native to North America are certainly shared by our
brothers and sisters throughout the continent and so we thought this
would be an opportunity to help develop some of those programs
internationally as we move forward down the road in our future.
It also stood for inter-tribal and it stood for a source for information
both on the internet and in person. We wanted to provide support
for incident response and immediate assistance should that tribal leader
or designated official need assistance. It stood for innovate and
inclusive. In the human context your “eye” provides vision for
the future. That is how iTEMA came to be the name for the
It is certainly unlike many associations out there but to us that “i”
was very unique to who we were and what we identified and what we
envisioned our association to be.
As we moved forward we created a survey. We realized when we set
this organization up that we didn’t want to do it in a bubble. We
wanted to make sure we allowed people to participate and allowed for
broad-spectrum reach to make sure that everyone who was engaged had the
opportunity to provide feedback and input on what they wanted their
association to look like.
This association was created for Indian Country by Indian Country and
that is what made it unique. We sent out a response survey to
capture some of that information relating to capacity, where were tribes
at, what the capabilities were and if they were interested in
developing an association.
We received approximately 148 responses. Of those, 95 tribal
nations were represented meaning that basically 17% of all 566 federally
recognized tribes provided feedback for the development of this
association. Some of these may have been tribal leaders, emergency
managers, fire chiefs, police chiefs or even ground firefighters but
the point is we received feedback and of those of 91 people who answered
the question, 97% supported the creation of an association that was
built on this premise.
We then had the validation we were doing the right thing. That was
really what this was all about—doing the right thing. As we
continued to move through the survey we asked—where are you with regard
to emergency management and how have you developed your capabilities or
your programs? What are your needs pertaining to your
program? We found that training and exercise were at the top of
What we also found was the funding and resources including personnel are
continuously challenges throughout Indian Country. We have
engaged in multiple conversations about the importance and need for
direct funding for tribes. This survey was reflective of that
groundswell of challenges, issues and trials that emergency managers
were experiencing throughout the country.
From that perspective this gave us a good snapshot of where we need to
go and how to develop. Since resources and personnel were a
challenge we asked why not look at a way to share some of these
resources and personnel and subject matter experts during that kind of
event and of course buy-in from leadership and the community.
Those of you who have been in emergency management or participated you
realize that some people say we don’t need an emergency manager all the
time—just when a disaster or incident happens. We all realize that
if we don’t plan we realize the impact of that disaster can be
significantly much more substantial.
We have identified as multiple reports and different studies have
identified that for every one dollar spent on preparedness we save four
dollars in response and recovery—that is conservative based on some
numbers. I’ve seen some up to seven or eight.
We realize that the value of this cannot be understated. The importance
for us to develop and promote this process and promote relationships and
to promote the concept of working together with one strong and united
voice was essential to the success of the organization. Through
that we see coordination, communication and information—the need for
information and to share information—best practices.
What have you done? Where did you get that information? How did
you apply for that grant? What grants are available? How did you
negotiate that event? How did you declare that disaster?
Folks, for those of you who are in tribal communities and are emergency
managers I can tell you right now based on your feedback these concerns
and challenges resonate with everyone.
In addition to that we talked about communications and interoperability
and identifying how we restructure funding to support some of those
things. If we didn’t speak with that united and strong voice to
allow decision makers—whether they be elected officials within our
tribal government or elected officials in our state and federal
government—the point is that divided we fail and united we can achieve
amazing success. That is the reason iTEMA was started.
This is the purpose. We want to promote and facilitate emergency
management through a collaborative and multi-disciplinary
approach. We wanted to make sure we allow for all different
disciplines to participate in the organization, to give each discipline a
specific division within the organizational structure, to allow them to
continue to grow within the organizational structure—that is what we
wanted to accomplish through the multi-disciplinary approach.
To collaborate—make sure we are having those conversations before the
event and not during the event. For those of you who have been
around you realize the value of relationships isn’t that you are passing
out business cards as the emergency is unfolding but that those cards
were passed out and the relationships were established pre-event.
We want to make sure we enhance and improve those events to prepare for,
protect against and to respond to and recover from and mitigate against
all hazards that befall our communities—whether it is something we have
identified as a hazard annex or something the tribal communities are
facing with a pipelines running through their community or something
else that could potentially impact the community or standard of living.
The point is we also have our traditions and stories that give us an
indication that these things have happened in the past and how we
prepare and mitigate against those things are critical to the success
and survival of our tribal communities. We also wanted to
encourage and facilitate participation in education.
We talked about the value and importance of training and preparedness
activities. We wanted to make sure we promoted the cooperation and
equality and support with what FEMA’s initiative was—the concept for
developing the ‘whole community’ approach. Why is this
important? It’s about the rights and benefits afforded to them
through the trees.
The Constitution of the United States, Executive Action, federal
legislation, the United States Supreme Court decisions—as it relates to
the trust and responsibility of the federal government with regard to
Homeland Security and emergency management and emergency services.
We say that because we know there are situations and challenges and we
have identified problems but unless we come to the table with
solutions—that’s the challenge we posed to everyone that participated in
the initial discussion as iTEMA was organized.
We believe iTEMA can be the solution for some of those challenges the
federal government has with meeting their trust and
responsibilities. That is through a collaborative,
multi-disciplinary approach that brings together Indian Country and
focuses on tribes helping tribes.
Part of that purpose is to promote and support through all association
activities the preservation of who we are as a native people—our
traditional forms of government, cultural values and our heritage.
We realize those partnerships are critically essential because all
disasters start locally. We need to make sure we work together
with the tribal, federal, state and local agencies to help promote these
services and programs so when that event happens the local responding
agencies don’t say, “It’s tribal land and we don’t go there.”
The discussions beforehand we realize are of value. Since
disasters start locally we have to develop and work towards achieving
success with those local agencies because they will be the first
responding to our tribal communities if available. I’m not here to
say that history doesn’t pose these challenges because I know many
tribes have challenges with their state government and local governments
but if we don’t try and are not persistent and tenacious in some of
these efforts we will never achieve success.
This is part of why iTEMA was developed—to help facilitate some of those
conversations and to educate the public, iTEMA partners and other
stakeholders about what tribal sovereignty is and what self-governance
is and what is important to us in terms of being socially sensitive and
aware of who we are as native people.
Here is the organizational vision and this was part of our structure
with divisions of fire, EMS, emergency management, Homeland Security,
law enforcement, incident management and public health. Our CHR’s
(Contract Health Representatives) that provided a lot of that assistance
in our tribal communities on a daily basis play a pivotal role in
identifying those with high needs or access and functional needs.
We can identify by embracing public health as a part of our emergency
management process by saying they have a place at the table. When
we talk about the division of fire and EMS some of the things I am very
excited to say is that as these divisions continue to grow and develop
those divisional structures will allow for continued extension or
further enhancement with committees or sub-committees or sub-groups that
for instance, deal with arson or fire prevention codes or things that
relate to firefighters.
As the amount of impact that the tribal firefighters have throughout
this country there is no place for them to be a part of an association
that is tribal. That is what we wanted to do by accomplishing and
developing these divisions within our organizational structure—to give
them a place to belong, to have ownership and be a part of
something. When we all get together we are stronger and that is
why we created this different divisional structure within the
Each division will be further broken down and here it is. The
Search and Rescue for instance for division of fire, HazMat, wild land
firefighting, aircraft rescue firefighting—we have some tribes that have
airports on them and develop those aircraft rescue firefighting
programs and/or policies and procedures and they are critically
essential to fire chiefs.
Fire prevention, arson, fire explorers, the division of emergency
management—we realize the value of CERT in tribal communities—a place
for them to belong—amateur radio, public works. The point is that
we can expand and collapse based on the needs of Indian Country.
That is what we wanted to do by accomplishing this divisional structure
Not only that but it also helped facilitate the concept of incident
command and being familiar with the process of incident
command—realizing there are basically divisions and falling into
groups. We have these different opportunities to continue to
develop these things and move forward on some of these efforts. We
are excited about what this means for all of Indian Country to be that
inclusive and that united voice for these things related to emergency
management and emergency services.
How do you belong? Here is what we have done. In the
organizational structure and the bylaws we identified there would be
basically four levels of membership. One would be voting
membership. We thought it was critically essential that one tribe
had one vote. No other tribe could be more important than another
one because they were so much larger or so much smaller than each
other. The value of that vote was critically essential to the
What does that vote do? That vote gave you the opportunity to
provide the resolution or direction for the organization in the
future. We created the council membership. That was
consisting of federally recognized tribes, pueblos, Rancherias, nations,
villages and communities that provided a resolution and paid their
That was a seat reserved for each federally recognized tribe on that
council—the one vote per tribe. The annual dues are 2,000 dollars
per year per tribe. Obviously dues will be evaluated on an annual
basis by the council and adjusted as necessary based on the value-added
benefit and the deliverables.
I’m excited to tell you that in the next month we will be launching that
membership. We will be launching our individual membership,
council membership, our partner membership and associate membership that
I’m going to explain. Now is Indian Country’s time and we are moving
forward on this association and we are moving forward on this membership
because we believe that is the value of belonging and that is the value
that this brings to the organization by identifying and creating that
unified voice and strength.
Non-voting membership—here are those partner memberships. These
are the organizations, companies or organizations out there—some of
those local, tribal, regional-tribal, and inter-tribal organizations
that can belong to the association as well. For that the annual
dues are 2,000 dollars a year and these dues will be evaluated and
adjusted as necessary by the council and the board.
The point is those organizations that have a vested interested in seeing
the success of Indian Country, emergency management and emergency
services develop and improve—those organizations have a place they can
belong. Those companies have a place to belong. The other
associations that work diligently to do those regional efforts to
promote tribal emergency management and emergency services have a place
to belong and they don’t lose their identity in this organization.
That is what we identified as being important. Those associations
that have been successful on a regional level have a place where they
don’t lose their identity but they can belong to the greater
organization that iTEMA brings to the table. In addition we talked
about individual membership—and that’s you and me—the individuals that
want to be a part of this.
They may not be a vote on the council but want to be and believe in what
iTEMA is about—that wild land firefighter, emergency manager, CHR that
wants to be a part of the organization and wants to participate.
That is a 100 dollar annual due. We are trying to identify and do things
that are manageable to allow participation.
The next step we did was associate membership—any tribe, organization or
individual who supports the mission of iTEMA but had a challenge to
come up with those funds. We wanted to create that associate
membership—they are not required to pay the annual membership due but
they are therefore ineligible for the rights of full membership but they
can upgrade their membership status if they are unable to pay the
membership dues they can petition the board for a waiver of dues.
We want to make accommodations to organizations, individuals or tribes
that don’t have the financial means to support those memberships.
Those will be reviewed on a case by case basis. We have done a lot of
due diligence on developing a membership process that allows for broad
spectrum participation. We didn’t want to alienate or
We created a place for everybody at the table. We created a value
with the one tribe one vote process and that is the council membership.
Why should you belong? Why do you want to participate? What
is the value of this organization? Here are a few things we are
currently working on. We believe that the tribal disaster response
fund is going to be critically essential to the future of our
organization. When the tribe picks up the phone for help, the
question we don’t want to ask is, “Who is going to pay for it?” That can
be worked out after the fact.
What happens is that when a tribal community needs assistance, they pick
the phone up and there is no way for another tribe, group or effort to
support that response. We believe as tribes continue to get
involved and see the value of iTEMA, we can help develop through
donations and other funds to create a disaster response fund so those
funds can be paid out initially.
As we develop the pre-disaster contracts with the different tribes that
are members or participate with the iTEMA effort, those funds are
reimbursable as soon as those contract is activated and that disaster is
declared and approved by the President. Not all disasters will be
declared. We realize that.
It is based on the intent and scope of the event itself. The point
is unless we create something in a process we need to be able to
support the tribes in the early stages of these events. It is not
to say that we are taking over or coming in to take charge, it is that
we are there to facilitate those people in the decision making process
to answer questions and provide guidance and subject matter expertise
that are critically essential in the early stages of an event.
Also to help facilitate and foster the development of tribal incident
management teams—we believe we have the capabilities and the subject
matter expertise within the organization and those who have identified
and support what we are trying to accomplish to work towards the
development of these efforts.
Whether it is a smaller type three team or a short team or rapid needs
assessment team that can come in and help a tribal leader or community
during this process—that would be your tribal incident response
officers. We talked about creating tribal emergency management
assistance and self-determination act. The point is if we don’t
have these conversations we’ll never know what options or opportunities
are there for us.
These are things we can work toward collectively as we move forward with
this association. Emergency operations plan, hazard mitigation,
continuity of operations support as you move forward in developing those
plans—and here is another challenging thing—as we have trainings
throughout Indian Country we realize there is no centralized tribal
training program or a master training calendar.
We don’t even know what is happening within our own region other than
the emails we receive from FEMA. Our goal is to create a
centralized master training calendar that really allows people to see
what is going on in their communities or regions.
Quarterly Emergency Management—the goal is to have our emergency
management and emergency services magazine to showcase the value-added
benefit of tribal emergency management emergency services—to showcase
those best practices and tribes that are doing a great job and have
achieved success, to learn about lessons learned from events or
incidents, to talk about tribal CERT programs and things we have a
vested and shared interest in.
I believe that as we move forward with this, the more we can put it into
the mainstream of our consciousness and bring it to the forefront of
tribal leaders saying, “I got this magazine in the mail about tribal
emergency management”—that helps facilitate the continued development of
our programs because it basically legitimizes us as a specialized field
of study and a specialized field with regard to tribal communities and
the value and importance of that for developing these capacities and
capabilities within our communities.
Obviously with legislative advocacy—we realize on issues that pertain to
things such as the amendment to the Stafford Act we have to speak with a
united voice. We have to have subject matter experts that are
able to provide those testimonies to Congress and to members of the
Senate with regard to some of these issues.
Where iTEMA can be a very strong voice on some of these things, it is
about the collective good of the organization. It is about
developing and looking for opportunities to promote tribal emergency
management and emergency services and to look for opportunities to
secure direct funding for tribes and to also identify ways we can fund
additional training and deliverables that help support emergency
management and emergency services.
Those are some of the values of why we believe it is important to belong to iTEMA and to be a part of this special effort.
ITEMA is a coordinating body. We are there about project
delivery. A tribe needs assistance we can enter into a contract to
provide assistance and develop those capabilities and capacities.
Programmatic support—we are having challenges with this. As
council members and as members of the organization we want to support
you and continue to provide those best practices as you move forward.
To help facilitate training, to education partnerships with tribal
community colleges—I am extremely excited to talk about the partnership
we just had with the University of Nebraska in Omaha as we move forward
in formalizing tribal emergency management as a specialized field of
study. That centralized communication and coordination of the
resource database of who has what and what the points of contact are
throughout Indian Country for emergency management.
The information sharing either through the website, or the magazine or
resource sharing through things such a tribal mutual aid or TEMAC which
USET has worked so diligently on, and then the subject matter experts
who provide a lot of the feedback and information. Networking—it’s
about making those relationships and shaking hands and understanding
who is around the corner to help or who is a phone call away to provide
assistance when you need it. Obviously an annual conference to
bring everybody together.
Here is our partnership with the University of Nebraska in Omaha.
You may have seen the press release that came out of the university but
what we were able to accomplish is to identify that within emergency
management --obviously emergency management is a specialized field of
study--however what we identified is that as we move forward in this
concept of emergency management that tribes have a very unique set of
expectations and a specific need of tribal emergency management as it
relates to cultural sensitivity, historic sites and preservation. It has
things on how you deal with managing sovereignty and not to diminish
sovereignty by providing different delegations of authority.
If we don’t have those conversations and we don’t work toward developing
that new future of emergency management we are basically embracing or
accepting what the current emergency management practices are. We
are specifically unique. Tribes are unique. Tribes are not states
and they are not local government. They are sovereign nations.
We need to have an emergency management curriculum that deals with and
specifically addresses those issues of sovereignty, tribal law, trust,
treaties, obligations to historic sites and preservation—all those
things that make us unique as governments. That is why we are
extremely excited about what this looks like as we move forward in
develop the certificate and associate and bachelors program as it moves
forward and continues to develop over the next couple of years.
What is even better that this allows us for this tribal community
college to embrace this program and bring this program out to their
local tribes and communities so we basically go out and embrace our
future, our youth, as we develop them in tribal CERT programs and THEN
transition into the fire and EMS programs and becoming tribal emergency
It is that multidisciplinary focus of developing a career path for our
future. That is why we are thrilled about this partnership with
University of Nebraska in Omaha and the MOU that was recently signed.
We move forward on this and say we want to support student development
by bringing iTEMA’s reporters and support staff so we give them projects
and assignments as curriculum and say that we have a tribe that was
impacted by this event so call them and interview them and identify the
lessons learned, the success stories, what they did right and what they
could have improved on and share that information so we can showcase
We can share that information that allows for lessons learned to be
learned from everyone. We all have a role in this process.
There is certainly no need to reinvent the wheel and especially I think
this provides a great opportunity for them to participate in this
process and have the ability to get the community service requirements
for their degree in support of our association overall. That is
why we are excited about that partnership with UNO.
How do we sustain? Quite frankly this has been the biggest
question. It sounds like a great idea and I’m sure you’ve put a
lot of due diligence into this. Well I can tell you we certainly
have. The business plan is just under 90 pages long and we have
done a tremendous amount of work and vetting with our bylaws to make
sure we are sustainable.
We have a 501c3 tax exempt attorney go through the bylaws with a fine
comb to make sure we are capturing all the elements and to make sure
this organization is sustainable for the long haul. It is not just
a flash in the pan. When we look to the future in 14, 20 and 30
years, iTEMA will still be there making a difference for tribes and
Also we realize there are other opportunities through tribal sponsorship
whether they are at bronze, silver, gold or platinum levels, vendor
sponsorship, the annual conference, our membership dues, federal grants,
donations and advertising. Those are other things we have
identified through our business plan that provide some value-added
benefit to help promote and facilitate what we want to do as far as the
organization to sustain us into the future.
For those of you that have further questions about the business plan and
how that works and the contracts and all those other things I am happy
to share that with you as well.
What have we done? We have been at it for about a year and a
half, and almost two years now. We gave the national survey which
gave us a good snapshot and starting point for where we were. We
had to identify where we were and I think we realized we needed to do a
better job and we need to dedicate resources to call every single tribe
to make personal contact to make sure we understand where they are with
capability and capacity and where they want to be with their capability
and capacity. That is our starting point for our continued development
of our deliverables.
We want to update that list for emergency management and emergency
services points of contact in Indian Country. That is not a
one-time deal. That happens, as all of you who work in Indian
Country realize, that changes fairly frequently. We want to have a
centralized database to support that.
When we talked about Hurricane Isaac and Hurricane Sandy—here is an
example of one thing we can do. As we provided the TAC-G or the
Tribal Citizens Coordination Group with a roster of Tribal Subject
Matter Experts that were available for deployment upon request—although
they weren’t required we realized there is value to that.
Tribes want to see other tribes coming to their assistance when there is
a need. We realize it’s not that we’re saying that FEMA’s not doing the
right thing but we realize that tribes by nature want to have the
support of other tribal communities. This couldn’t have been more
proven with Hurricane Sandy. The Shinnecock Nation was definitely
impacted by that event. The Seminole Nation responded.
They sent two tribal emergency managers up to the Shinnecock nation and
provided a significant impact on minimizing the traumas and challenges
that Shinnecock experienced. Obviously they can’t take away the
actual physical trauma and physical challenges but to have that support
and guidance from very early in the event was very very helpful to that
One of those that ended up providing that response was Jason Dobronz is
on our board and he realizes and continues to be an advocate for
it. That is the right thing. That is so necessary and needed
and couldn’t have been more substantiated during that event than what
we saw during Hurricane Sandy.
Other things we continue to support—we are very active in coordinating a
last-minute response from Indian Country to Representative Bennie
Thompson and asking him to reconsider his position on H.R. 2903.
Again, there were a lot of challenges that happened while we were trying
to get the Stafford Act amended. As we move forward we realize there
were things we needed to work on collectively.
Back to Hurricane Sandy, by providing the list of subject matter experts
we were able to also send an individual—Regina Marotto is on the phone
now—she was requested to support at the NRCC. We realized there
were some challenges that occurred but she responded to Washington, D.C.
and was there to help facilitate what we identified as a potential
opportunity to help with the tribal desk at the NRCC.
These are opportunities that we thing as we continue to vet this out
will be further opportunities for us in the future. I say that because
there is value to those partnerships and relationships and subject
matter expertise that is being provided to other tribes that are being
Moving forward on the Stafford Act Amendment we talked about
2283—preparing, coordinating and facilitating key discussion and moving
this legislation out of committee and onto the floor—the point is we
played an active role in this process. Because of that we had an
opportunity to make a difference and participate in that process and
make that a successful amendment to the Stafford Act. I am excited
about what that means to us in Indian Country.
We had our first annual conference last year—March 21-22 in New
Orleans. We expected about 100 individuals to participate and we
are excited to say it was a really positive experience for us. It
was an opportunity for us to get our message out to Indian
Country. We are going to do that even further next year in
Southern California. I’ll show you about that here in the next slide.
We had our first annual conference last year and it was a really
positive event and experience. We appreciated those who
participated in that. We had our University of Nebraska at Omaha
iTEMA MOU signed last week. The last two NCAI conferences—iTEMA
has provided CERT capabilities and medical support for the conference.
The conference in Sacramento and the conference last week in Tulsa—iTEMA
was there. We were there providing CERT capabilities and
promoting preparedness, response, mitigation activities through the
handouts of multiple periodicals, but also we were there to support
tribal leadership should something have happened. We were able to
provide some medical assistance in the last meeting. People knew
we were there with AED, oxygen and paramedic.
We knew that tribal leaders had support for that event. That is a
value-added benefit of iTEMA. We have a website that is under
development and construction. You can see it now—it has some great
information on it already but nonetheless we continue to develop and
promote that through iTEMA.org.
What’s coming up? March 10 through March 14 of 2014 in Southern
California—here is our next annual conference. I am excited about
this. We are going to be doing some pre-conference training as
well. We are going to do a basic CERT class for those who want to
know what CERT is so you can take that back to your tribal communities.
It looks like we may be providing a COOP class in partnership with EMI
and that has yet to be solidified but we are engaged in discussion on
that. We will continue to move forward with the two and a half day
process conference on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. That is
where we are with iTEMA now. We continue to move forward and get
Here is our board. These are the folks that make it happen.
Without their diligence and assistance to move this effort forward, we
couldn’t do it without these individuals. I am excited about
everything they have participated and accomplish. You can see by
some of the names here these are subject matter experts across the
country who deal with tribal emergency management and emergency
Whether it is through CERT, fire or EMS, the fact is these are great
participants and active leaders in Indian Country in emergency
Who is involved so far? Here is a list of our some of our partners
already who have signed on through resolution about supporting
iTEMA. The Inter-Tribal Long Term Recovery Foundation out of San
Diego and all the work that came out of the San Diego fires—Theresa
Gregor has done an amazing job down there with her support network with
Adam Geisler and some of the other folks through her board. They
have made a significant difference in the preparing and promoting of
emergency management and emergency services in those tribal communities.
The Inter-Tribal Council of Nevada through their ITERC Inter-tribal
Emergency Response Commission, with ITCN and AMERIND was initially a big
player in this through their efforts but they have started with TMAC
and some of the efforts they wanted to do to develop and promote risk
The Wisconsin Tribal Emergency Alliance and you can see some other
tribes that have signed on through resolution—Agua Caliente, Blue Lake,
Trinidad, Cocopah, Hopi, Pala, Acoma, Pueblo Laguna, Ponca Tribe of
Nebraska, Rincon, Seminole Tribe of Florida, and Snoqualmie Indian
Tribes. Those lists continue to expand. As we move forward
on this tribal council membership we will address these iTEMA partners
and ask if they want to continue their participation and involvement and
have a position or seat on the council.
Here are a lot of people who have been involved in what we are trying to
accomplish. I put this slide here because it is a matter of
working together. The more we have on here the more participants
and active engagement the more successful we are as an
organization. We couldn’t do it without the folks who are on here.
Here are more of these names. It has been overwhelming amount of
support to move iTEMA forward and promote what we are trying to
accomplish. It has been a privilege and honor to work with these
individuals and hopefully develop an organization based on that premise
of providing support for tribes by tribes and an organization created on
the premise of for Indian Country by Indian Country.
What it boils down to folks is it is about our sovereignty. It is
about preservation of our cultures, traditions, languages and who we are
as tribal people and tribal identify. iTEMA is about being there
for tribes when they have a need. How we facilitate, manage and support
that is something we are working out diligently as we have all these
participants and subject matter experts developing this capability and
It is about taking care of each other. It is about speaking with
one strong unified voice promoting tribal emergency management and
emergency services. If you need additional information here is my
information and contact—Ken Tiller, the Vice President and Interim COO
and also Regina’s information as well.
We are in the process of solidifying our 1-800 number for the
one-stop-shop. If you need help you can give us a call there and
we will try to help facilitate and accommodate that request.
Within the next couple of weeks we will be rolling that number out as
It has been a privilege and honor to speak to you today. If you
have further information or questions please provide those on the
questions and answers section of this. I’ll turn it over to
Amy. Thank you again, Amy, for this opportunity.
Amy Sebring: Thank you very much Jake. It sounds like the timing
of this program was excellent and that it is a very exciting time for
you. We will move to the Q&A portion.
[Audience Questions & Answers]
Amy Sebring: How do the tribal nations relate to the Emergency Management Assistance Compact, EMAC? Is TMAC the same idea?
Jake Heflin: It’s exactly the same idea. NEMA has
done a lot of work on EMAC. NEMA has places for the territories
and I think at some point there will be a discussion with NEMA about how
we engage tribes within that discussion. Having said that,
currently tribes are not a part of that discussion. Although the
relationship is not strained by any means it is a matter of developing
The United South and Eastern Tribes, through the efforts of Harold
French and Willo Sylestine, and some of the emergency services committee
that USET has, have taken a very active role in developing the concept
of TMAC. TMAC has further been developed by some folks out here in
Southern California through the efforts of David Monroe over at
There are those that are participating and developing this concept where
iTEMA is taking these efforts, like USET, and bringing them forward so
we can start speaking globally and speaking throughout Indian Country
and work toward developing assistance for those compacts to help those
Isabel McCurdy: Is membership status only or can one be non-status?
Jake Heflin: If an individual wanted to be a member there
is individual membership. Obviously they don’t need to be federally
recognized. It is somebody who has a vested interest in what iTEMA
is promoting and moving forward to.
There is a question as to what a federally recognized or non-federally
recognized or state recognized tribe can do or participate in.
Associate membership was also designed to recognize the state recognized
tribes so there was a place for them and a place where they can
participate in the process in iTEMA. As far as council membership, we
have made an executive decision based on the collective response from
all the participants who played a role in the bylaws creation, was that
those council membership had to deal specifically with those that were
We didn’t want to leave anybody out so we made specific references to
non-federally recognized tribes in that associate membership.
Lise Kaye: How does iTEMA relate to the National Tribal Emergency Management Council?
Jake Heflin: The National Tribal Emergency Management
Council is a group that took a lot of their formation out of the best
practices that came out of the Northwest Tribal Emergency Management
Council. We have engaged in multiple conversations with
them. We have participated in some elaborate and in-depth
What we have identified is that iTEMA from an organizational perspective
was, in addition to some other things related to training, preparedness
and advocacy—those things were important to us but what differentiated
us from that organization itself was our desire to move forward in the
response capability, and develop some of those capabilities to
facilitate and support tribes that were experiencing a large scale
I can’t speak on behalf of that organization or association. They
have some great individuals over there that are well-connected and
well-experienced with Indian Country and have a lot of subject matter
expertise within that organization. Quite frankly from that perspective
there is a lot of value to that organization.
But iTEMA is a different organization. We have different
priorities. We continue to move forward in our efforts and our
vision for what we believe is important and continue to move forward to
promote that collective collaborative effort that is all-hazards, all
risks and a multi-disciplinary approach to support the tribes.
Tim Schwob: What role, if any, will NGOs have in iTEMA in preparation, response and recovery?
Jake Heflin: That is a great question. As we continue to
move forward, for instance, let’s talk about the Red Cross. We
realize that NGOs play a significant role in supporting what iTEMA is
doing and how we continue to move forward. With regard to NGOs we
created that partner membership specifically for that reason. It
didn’t have to be a business—it could be a NGO but there was a place for
them in the association.
We had to develop those partnerships. Those partnerships were
essential to the success of the organization. The Red Cross and
iTEMA are working on developing an MOU to support mass acre and
sheltering for tribes that are impacted by an event. There is value to
having MOUs in place with NGOs. If there is an NGO online and
wants to participate or have a discussion about that, please call
me. We are excited about these partnerships. I am excited
about working with the national American Red Cross. That is just
one example of the value of NGOs. NGOs, please call us—we are
excited about working with you.
Sometimes it is difficult for you to understand those dynamics as it
relates to Indian Country and iTEMA is here to assist you through that
Bruce Binder: Is iTEMA an IRS recognized 501.c.3 organization?
Jake Heflin: We are incorporated in the state of Nevada as a
non-profit but the federal 501c3 status is pending. The
application is completed and everything is done. We have been told
the wait is approximately a year or so. I don’t know how long
that will take. Any organization that participated in iTEMA, as
soon as the status is confirmed, then donations or contributions will be
retroactive back to the date of March of 2013.
Jayne Cooley: What dialogue has iTEMA had with IAEM - especially in promoting Tribal members to sit for AEM/CEM exam.
Jake Heflin: I will actually be at IAEM in Reno next
week. I sit on the tribal caucus for IAEM as a member and because
of that we need to figure out how to get the information out
there. Early on I had talked to the chair of the tribal caucus for
IAEM about the value of going out and developing a partnership with
IAEM. Again, iTEMA is about developing and collaborating.
The more we can work towards the end of developing and facilitating that
relationship, the stronger it is. That is why I signed up to be
on the tribal caucus as the President and CEO of iTEMA to support that
dialog and continued discussion.
If those on the phone want to talk about that further, I will be in Reno
and I will be at the tribal first caucus meeting. I will be happy
to talk to you and have conversations on how we can promote and have
further discussion on the process.
Regina Marotto: To add onto what Jake mentioned, the
whole idea of iTEMA is collaboration. We do not intend or do we
wish to replace or take over any established programs or tribal
departments. There are a lot of emergency management initiatives
out there in Indian Country whether it is through inter-tribal councils,
tribal emergency management programs, tribal liaisons to state local or
federal agencies—there are a lot of people doing a lot of good work.
The point of our vision is to work collaboratively to improve those
efforts and to put people in touch with the right organizations, share
the information—and it is the same thing with tribal emergency
management curricula that is currently being developed. Nobody
wants to reinvent the wheel. There are things out there that work
currently that already exist.
We want to build upon and improve what is already out there.
Whether you are an NGO or private organization, through pre-established
mutual aid agreements or people who need information to be put in touch
with the right people, that is our intention.
Jane Teehan: Does iTEMA work with the BIA's [Bureau of Indian Affairs] EM component?
Jake Heflin: Absolutely. We have a very strong
relationship with the BIA EM team. Many of those individuals are
personal friends. That is part of the relationship of building
that partnership. Sid Caesar is the chief of emergency management.
I have known Sid for years and he is one of more passionate individuals
about tribal emergency management and services. He has had a lot
of experience with tribes from his time and Indian Health Services.
We have a lot of great participation and engagement with BIA EM and
continue to look forward to developing those efforts and relationships
to work in partnership with BIA Emergency Management.
Avagene Moore: Thanks for your presentation, Jake. I look
forward to meeting you next week at IAEM in Reno. How involved is
iTEMA with the IAEM Tribal Caucus that meets next week in Reno?
Jake Heflin: I have had a lot of conversations with Chuck
Kmet who is their chair of the caucus. I think what we have
identified is that IAEM, through the caucus, shares a lot of the same
vision and passion for tribes. I think the more we can engage that
conversation collectively and the more we can work together in a
unified effort, the stronger both organizations will be as their
outreach to Indian Country continues to grow and develop.
Amy Sebring: Well folks it is time to wrap up for today. On
behalf of Avagene, myself, and all our participants, thanks very much to
both of you for being with us today and sharing this information with
us. We wish you great success as you move forward. I have a lot of
confidence that you will have great success.
Jake Heflin: Thank you Amy. Thank you very much everyone for
calling in. We appreciate your feedback. Please don’t hesitate to give
us a call. For those of you who will be at IAEM in Reno we will see you
there, and hopefully we will see all of you at our conference in March.
Take care and be safe.
Amy Sebring: Thanks to everyone for participating today and have a great afternoon! We are adjourned.