10 September 2008

FEMA and other four letter words

Most people are aware of the Hurricane Ike that is threatening the coast of Texas. Before Ike there was Gustav. And in between there was Hanna. There are rescue teams currently being staged in the area for Ike. My water rescue team Jefferson County Swiftwater Rescue (JCWRT) is still located in Louisville. Why?

I don't know. According to our command staff we are listed as a state resource. The only way to deploy us is for the State Emergency Management Agency (EMA) of the affected area to request us through an EMAC (Emergency Management Assistance Compact). In our case the Governor of Texas would need to declare a state of emergency, allowing the Texas EMA (technically it is the Governors Division of Emergency Management {GDEM}) to begin their search for resources through the EMAC. GDEM would have to call Kentucky EMA and ask them if we have resources for flood/swiftwater rescue. Should they need/want our assistance the JCWRT would get notified by Kentucky EMA to deploy to Texas (we would also get staging instructions for where to report to in the state of texas). This is how states request Mutual Aid from other states.

A rather complicated procedure, we can mix it up by adding a federal response. FEMA has different requirements for teams that wish to be of assistance. They have a whole host of lists and requirements, and forms to fill out to be listed as a FEMA Resource. For the purpose of full disclosure I do not know if there is a federal response for Ike. I do know that there is an official State of Disaster Declared by the Governor of Texas (as of the 7th Sept. 2008). I do not know the difference between State of Disaster and State of Emergency. I will look into these and report back (to all two of you who read my blog).

I am an emergency worker, and I like helping people. My job is to assist the general public and other emergency services personnel when requested. I like this, no in fact I get giddy when I get the opportunity to perform. Sitting around playing tiddlywinks (or mopping floors and cleaning bathrooms) is not why I show up to work. Janitorial services are, unfortunately, required but I really would rather be out there in the middle of all the disasters helping those in need (despite my wife not liking the thought of me being deployed and away from home). Idle hands do the devils work and this blog is proof.

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