The premise of the Emergency Management Assistance Compact or EMAC is simple: No government - local, state or federal - has all the resources to respond to all disasters. In an emergency, EMAC allows governors to call upon valuable response and recovery resources from other states. If those states choose to provide help, they can do so, knowing that this issues of liability, reimbursement, licensure, workers compensation, etc. have already been addressed.
The steps to an EMAC deployment are very clear: after the governor of the affected state declares a state of emergency and the affected state asks for help from other member states - the EMAC process begins.
An EMAC Advance Team, or A-Team, works with the affected state to identify its needs, shares those needs with other states and determines resource availability and cost; the affected state completes requisition orders and finalizes cost negotiation; resources are sent to the affected state. Finally, the assisting state asks for and receives reimbursement. Throughout the process, various EMAC leadership teams interface and coordinate with state, regional, federal jurisdictions and other government entities. [For details on the EMAC process, refer to the EMAC Web Site at www.emacweb.org.]
EMAC COMPLIMENTS INTRASTATE AGREEMENTS
Beyond following these basic steps, and understanding that the compact does not allow for deployment of individuals acting on their own accord, what really makes EMAC function at its best are two things: 1) When local and state responders know how the compact works, and 2) when intrastate agreements - agency to agency; agency to city; city to city and/or county; county to state, etc - are already in place before disaster strikes.
In addition to the interstate agreement (state-to-state), an intrastate model mutual aid agreement is also available. Many local jurisdictions are adopting and using it in the event of a disaster that requires help from another entity within state borders. This agreement was developed by the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) in conjunction with first responder organizations, and can provide the same protections that EMAC offers in a state-to-state scenario, such as procedures to resolve workers compensation and liability issues, as well as protocols for reimbursement. Established correctly, these intrastate agreements can be used by the state emergency management agency to send non-state employees out of state under EMAC.
Having these intrastate agreements in place - pre-disaster - speeds up the entire deployment process, whether it's in response to an event affecting only one community, or a major catastrophe affecting hundreds of thousands, like Hurricane Katrina.
THE EMAC ADVANTAGE
EMAC is unique among mutual-aid compacts, mainly because it can deploy any discipline a state is willing to send to another state, including law enforcement, firefighting, public health, transportation and human services. For example, in Hurricane Katrina, EMAC deployed more than 46,000 National Guard troops.
This flexibility to manage the ebb and flow of any disaster, along with its operational system, and a clearly defined chain of command, are some of the reasons why EMAC was cited by the White House, the U.S. Senate and House After-Action Reports as one of the few success stories from the responses to Hurricane Katrina. It's also why the compact has been activated over 80 times since 1999. These have included response efforts for the 2004 hurricane season during which four major hurricanes hit the United States in a six-week period, Hurricane Isabel in 2003, as well as the U.S. terrorist attacks in 2001.
The Emergency Management Assistance Compact is an interstate agreement among all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, EMAC allows states to provide assistance across state lines when a disaster occurs. Its value was demonstrated like never before in the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita when more than 66,000 personnel with equipment and other resources totaling more than $830 million from across the country were deployed to the Gulf Coast under EMAC.
MEMA TAKES EMAC LEAD IN 2012
In March 2012, MEMA Operations Manager Allen Phillips began a one-year term as the Chair of the National Emergency Management Association (NEMA) Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC) Executive Task Force, and MEMA assumed the responsibility of serving as the EMAC National Coordinating State (NCS) for one year. The National Coordinating State is the initial point of contact for EMAC operational activities. The NCS monitors potential and actual emergency events nationwide and must be prepared to support states with EMAC needs on short notice by swiftly coordinating with Authorized Representatives and Designated Contacts in impacted states. The NCS recruits the other operational coordination components for deployment and interfaces with the EMAC Program Director during an event. The NCS serves the operations coordination function in the overall EMAC governance structure, as it oversees all EMAC response and recovery operations and ensures that operational procedures are followed, that coordinating teams are adequately staffed, and that timely deployment status reports are issued. The NCS also coordinates with NEMA’s Executive Task Force and NEMA staff to resolve policy and procedural issues during the activation and implementation of EMAC functions. As the Chair of the Executive Task Force, Allen Phillips coordinates MEMA’s NCS activities.
Serving as NCS for one year is a significant responsibility for MEMA, and provides unique opportunities. During the year, MEMA will have daily operational responsibilities, particularly when one or more states are responding to disasters and are seeking state-to-state mutual aid through EMAC. As the coordinating state, MEMA also will have a heightened opportunity to deploy Agency staff to other states, particularly MEMA employees who have received extensive training and are eligible to serve on an EMAC A-Team or Advance Team.