EMForum Presentation — October 23, 2013

The Tribal Emergency Management Association

Jake Heflin
President and Interim-Chief Executive Officer (CEO)

Amy Sebring
EMForum Moderator

This transcript contains references to slides which can be downloaded from http://www.emforum.org/vforum/tribal/iTEMA.pdf
A video recording of the live session is available at http://www.emforum.org/pub/eiip/lm131023.wmv
MP3 format at http://www.emforum.org/pub/eiip/lm131023.mp3 or in MP4 format at http://www.emforum.org/pub/eiip/lm131023.mp4

[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.

[Slide 1]

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 country.

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.

[Slide 2]

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 incident.

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.

[Slide 3]

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 itself.

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 association.

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.

[Slide 4]

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.

[Slide 5]

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 that list.

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.

[Slide 6]

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.

[Slide 7]

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.

[Slide 8]

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 organization itself.

[Slide 9]

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 within iTEMA.  

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.

[Slide 10]

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 organization.

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 annual dues.

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.

[Slide 11]

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.

[Slide 12]

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 disenfranchise anyone.

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.

[Slide 13]

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.

[Slide 14]

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.

[Slide 15]

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 managers.

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 those stories.

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.

[Slide 16]

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 Indian Country.

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.

[Slide 17]

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 tribal community.

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.

[Slide 18]

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 impacted.

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.

[Slide 19]

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.

[Slide 20]

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 involved.

[Slide 21]

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 services.

Whether it is through CERT, fire or EMS, the fact is these are great participants and active leaders in Indian Country in emergency management.

[Slide 22]

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 management.

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.
[Slide 23]

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.

[Slide 24]

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.

[Slide 25]

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 capacity.

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 well.

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 those efforts.

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 Morongo.

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 responses.

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 federally recognized.

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 discussions.

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 event.

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 process.

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.