Edited Version of February 28, 2001 Transcript
EIIP Virtual Forum Presentation

"National Emergency Managers Association 2001 Mid-Year Conference"

Emily DeMers

Mike Austin
Director, Arizona Division of Emergency Management

Avagene Moore - Moderator
EIIP Coordinator

The original unedited transcript of the February 28, 2001 online Virtual Library presentation is available in the EIIP Virtual Library Archives (http://www.emforum.org/vlibrary/livechat.htm). The following version of the transcript has been edited for easier reading and comprehension. Typos were corrected, date/time/names attributed by the software to each input were deleted but the content of questions and responses are as stated by each participant. Answers to participants’ questions are grouped beneath the appropriate question to facilitate meaning.


Avagene Moore: Welcome to the EIIP Virtual Forum! Our topic for today is "National Emergency Managers Association 2001: News from the Mid-Year Conference." Background information for today's session is at <http://www.emforum.org/vforum/010228.htm>. There you will find bios on our speakers and other background information including the link to the new EMAP Web page.

It is a pleasure to welcome our guest speakers today. Both have been with us before and we appreciate their time and effort on our behalf today. Mike Austin is the Director of the Arizona Division of Emergency Management and currently chairs the NEMA Mitigation Committee. Emily DeMers coordinates the Emergency Management Accreditation Program (EMAP) for NEMA. Mike and Emily, thanks for being here today. Audience help me welcome both of our guests! Emily, I turn the floor to you now.


Emily DeMers: Thanks, Avagene.

More than 300 state directors and staff and federal government and private sector attendees participated in NEMA's Mid-Year Conference earlier this month just outside Washington, D.C. Some of the key plenary session presentations were on mitigation planning, Department of Justice needs assessment, and animals in disasters - both dealing with livestock and pets in natural disaster situations and what to do when animal populations are the disaster, such as the case of animal-borne disease.

NEMA heard from FEMA staff on current issues at that agency, and since new FEMA Director Joe Allbaugh's confirmation hearing was the week of the conference, several state directors caught the confirmation hearing in person.

NEMA committees met during the first two days of the meeting and discussed a range of issues including: implementation of the Stafford Act amendments, emergency management standards and accreditation, the $100 million fire grant program, and various proposals in Washington to consolidate domestic preparedness activities in one agency or council.

For specifics on committee reports and resolutions passed by NEMA, access the NEMA web site at <http://www.nemaweb.org>. Now I'm pleased to introduce Mike Austin, director of the Arizona Division of Emergency Management, and co-chair of NEMA's Mitigation Committee, to give us more detail on the mitigation issues addressed at the Mid-Year Conference.

Mike Austin: The NEMA meeting was very productive. The Mitigation meeting went well. We are planning a meeting at EMI to discuss the Disaster Mitigation Act 2000 to work on implementation strategy for the part of the Act we are interested in. The meeting should be productive since the big 7 (NGA, NCSL, NLC, etc.) and NEMA will be present.

There are several parts of the Act that may be of interest to the group. The pre-disaster part of the Act requires FEMA to integrate all of their programs as well as all of the federal programs. I have my copy of the Act out if there are specific questions, otherwise I will Emily to write about her observations of the NEMA meeting.

Emily DeMers: The meeting covered a broad range of topics; however, I want to touch on a milestone I've been involved in.

For those of you who are not familiar with the Emergency Management Accreditation Program (EMAP), it is a voluntary accreditation process for state and local emergency management programs. It will have a self-assessment step, based on the Capability Assessment for Readiness (CAR), and a peer review, or on-site assessment, step, and then committee and commission review of the applicant program's documentation and the site visit team's report.

EMAP is being created by NEMA, FEMA, IAEM and other national organizations, like National League of Cities, U.S. Department of Transportation, to name a few, to provide standards and a means of recognizing state and local programs that meet those standards.

Accreditation will be based on compliance with the EMAP Standard, which is a written standard for emergency management programs based on the NFPA 1600 (Standard on Disaster/Emergency Management and Business Continuity Program).

EMAP is getting ready to test its accreditation materials and procedures in an alpha pilot starting this summer/fall with the state programs of North Carolina and North Dakota - with timing, of course, depending to a degree on wildfire and hurricane events. The EMAP Interim Commission met for the first time. Up to that point, the accreditation project had been guided by a loosely organized steering committee. The nine-member commission is putting together its working committees and will meet again this fall.

EMAP will finalize its standards and procedures materials this spring and summer and conduct the state pilot this summer/fall. Then we plan to open the process to all state programs in 2002 and pilot the process with several local emergency management programs. In fact, I already have a couple of local programs that have volunteered. But the local pilots haven't been chosen yet, so that's something else we'll be working on.

Anyway, there's a lot going on in the accreditation area, and for those of you who are interested in finding out more, we've created a new accreditation web site at www.emaponline.org. We also are looking for qualified emergency managers to serve as site visit team members in the future, so let me know if you think you might be interested.

Also, back to the Mid-Year Conference generally, if you want to review materials and resolutions from the conference, you can access those on the NEMA web site in the coming weeks, at www.nemaweb.org. That concludes our remarks, but we would be happy to answer questions. For that we'll turn it back over to Avagene.

[Audience Questions & Answers]

Avagene Moore: Thank you, Emily and Mike, for the overview. I was fortunate to attend the NEMA Conference and it was an excellent mid-year meeting.


Amy Sebring: Mike, do I understand the Act correctly in that only those states who have completed a Hazards Analysis will be eligible for funding for pre-disaster mitigation? What is the status of state hazards analyses?

Mike Austin: That's a good question, we are working with FEMA on the criteria for the 20%, and they may allow states to get the 20 without meeting all of the criteria right off the bat. Part of the 20 can be used on state planning to get the hazard analysis. But you need a disaster to get there.


J. P. DeMeritt: Emily, what specific kinds of qualifications are you looking for EMAP site team members?

Emily DeMers: We're finalizing details but in general, experienced emergency managers, perhaps with special areas of expertise, who go through a brief -- part online- training workshop and who aren't affiliated with the program they would be doing a site visit to.


Steve Detwiler: Mike, could you give us more detailed information on the Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000 or where we can find a copy of it on-line?

Mike Austin: Try thomas.loc, I think that's the site, or from the government printing office.

[http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d106:HR00707:|TOM:/bss/d106query.html| ]


J. P. DeMeritt: I think the benefits of an accreditation program are obvious to us, but selling it to the community may be a little more difficult. What advantages do you see to the program in the long run? For example, do you see insurance rates going down in accredited communities?

Emily DeMers: Accountability and quality are hot topics right now so those are generally appealing benefits. Looking at tangible ways, like insurance rates, communities benefit from their program being accredited are something we plan to work on. Suggestions are appreciated.


Avagene Moore: Emily, how much time on average do you see an onsite visit taking if emergency managers wish to participate in the program? Will expenses be paid by the program for travel, lodging, etc.?

Emily DeMers: Expenses of site visitors will be paid by the applicant program. That will be a cost of seeking accreditation, which we are trying to keep reasonable.

Avagene Moore: And about how much time from the job?

Emily DeMers: I expect site visits to average from two to four days (think LA city, for example).


Cam King: Emily - notice that North Dakota might be one of your test sites and what they do affects us in Manitoba. Would you consider a Canadian as an observer and/or a team member for at least that site? We are interested on some type of accreditation programme for our communities - especially in my case with the Indian Reserves.

Emily DeMers: That's a neat idea. I'd like to keep in mind possibilities for Canadian involvement in the accreditation program. I'll work on that with the commission and with your friends in N. Dakota.


Karen Windon: Emily, Are the names of the EMAP commission members on the web site also?

Emily DeMers: Yes, on <http://www.emaponline.org>. There are three appointed by NEMA, three by IAEM and three by FEMA.


Amy Sebring: Mike, were any specific positions adopted at the mid-year with respect to current issues? What issues does NEMA see as being critical in the coming year?

Mike Austin: The implementation of the Act will be the big thing since it covers so much. It will take several months to work out all of the issues.


Avagene Moore: Mike, has NEMA had an opportunity to meet with the new FEMA Director, Joe Allbaugh? Or is such a meeting planned and when?

Mike Austin: We are anxious to meet with him, but FEMA needs time to get settled. He has indicated an interest, from John McGraw, the Acting Deputy, so perhaps soon.


Amy Sebring: Mike was there any mention of the Tribal issues at the conference? This is mentioned in the Act, is it not?

Mike Austin: Yes it is, FEMA must complete a study of Tribal capacity and they have to do it within 1 year from enactment.


Ray Pena: Was there much discussion of FEMA being altered to accommodate Domestic Preparedness as recommended by some? What was the general sense? Good/bad/indifferent?

Emily DeMers: There are several proposals in Washington to consolidate in one agency all the federal domestic preparedness/terrorism efforts.

Mike Austin: John addressed the conference and indicated that there was discussion but no specifics.

Emily DeMers: While NEMA is not currently backing any one proposal to consolidate federal domestic preparedness, we talked about it a good bit, and have offered a set of guiding principles NEMA suggests. Those are on the NEMA web site at <http://www.nemaweb.org>, I think under the Terrorism Committee materials.


Amy Sebring: Ava, would you like to put in some of your observations from attending the conference?

Avagene Moore: I was impressed with the conference. Was a true working conference on NEMA's part. Was also struck by the mention of national security several times. I have been watching the news since then and wonder if we will see more emphasis in emergency management. Mike, as the State Director of AZ, do you feel we will be more involved in National Security? Just your own gut feelings, please.

Mike Austin: I hope not, terrorism is difficult since whatever you are prepared for has to be overcome to be effective as a terrorist incident, that means you always have to be building capacity.

Avagene Moore: If I might add one other point: NEMA does a lot of committee reporting and has key people meeting with committees with other meeting attendees observing. A little different from many conferences but very effective I think because you see how things get done. I always enjoy the NEMA meetings.


J. P. DeMeritt: Mike, like Texas, you have a long, porous border with Mexico. Do you suppose that might pose threats other than terrorism that we should be concerned about from a national security perspective?

Mike Austin: Every couple of weeks the BP nabs someone who is thought to be a terrorist.. And it is very much a concern.


Isabel McCurdy: Emily, what criteria would a program need to meet to merit selection for accreditation?

Emily DeMers: Accreditation will be based on compliance with the EMAP Standard which is based on the NFPA 1600 standard. A program will do a self-assessment but a key component is that accreditation will ask for documentation of its answers to the self-assessment.


Amy Sebring: Comment on JP's question. One of the issues re the border that is very current is the expansion of trucking from Mexico under NAFTA which is moving again. Hazardous materials and truck safety standards may be a concern to watch.


Ray Pena: What do we mean by "national security?"

Emily DeMers: How did J.P. mean it?

J. P. DeMeritt: I meant the ability of the American people and governments at all levels to be safe and secure within our borders.

Mike Austin: The federal programs OJP, DOD define it as anything that poses a threat to a broad range of issues, including threats to economy, cyber and WMD.


J. P. DeMeritt: Other issues with national security implications include infectious diseases and water. As population pressures mount in Central and South America, we might expect to see more people moving to the US/Mexico border region. Unrest caused by labor problems and water shortages may cross the borders. And as diseases come out of the jungles, they'll move north with immigrants.


Roger Kershaw: How would someone interested in becoming a visiting team member contact you?

Emily DeMers: Send me an e-mail, and I'll send you an info form to send back to us, <[email protected]>.


Amy Sebring: On the tribal issue, Mike do you expect NEMA will have a role in the study or be consulted by FEMA?

Mike Austin: Yes, I am working with FEMA on the construction of the question form. We are meeting in Green Bay the last week in March to discuss the questions with several tribal reps.


Amy Sebring: Mike, I would suggest that you contact Cam King, or Cam talk to you. He has had a great deal of experience with tribal issues/needs in Canada that may be helpful.

Avagene Moore: Good idea, Amy.

Mike Austin: We need all the help we can get.


Avagene Moore: Cam, would you like to input your email address for Mike?

Cam King: Mike/Emily - address is <[email protected]>.


Amy Sebring: The next NEMA meeting will be in August?

Emily DeMers: September in Montana.

Amy Sebring: Any particular focus planned for that meeting?

Emily DeMers: We are working on agenda now, the DMA implementation will likely still be an issue.

Amy Sebring: Thanks Emily.


Avagene Moore: Our time for Q&A is up. Mike and Emily, thank you for being with us today. You did a good job for us and we hope you enjoyed the experience as well. Please stand by while we take care of a few announcements.

Emily DeMers: Thanks for everyone's interest and good questions and comments.

Avagene Moore: First of all, the transcript of today's session will be posted later today. The reformatted versions will be available by Friday or Monday.

We are delighted to welcome new Partners. If you and your organization or affiliated group are not currently an EIIP Partner, please see criteria and Partnership form at <http://www.emforum.org/partners/criteria.htm> .

Amy, would you please tell us about the EIIP session for next week?

Amy Sebring: Thank you, Ava. We are still waiting for confirmation, however, next week we are planning a session with representatives from the National Domestic Preparedness Office. Our speaker will be Richard Sanders. The mission of the NDPO is "to coordinate all federal efforts ... to assist state and local emergency responders with planning, training, equipment, and exercise needs necessary to respond to a weapon of mass destruction (WMD) incident." Please join us then. Back to you, Ava.

Avagene Moore: Thank you, Amy. Thanks to all participants today. You may chat awhile longer if you like - no need to use question marks now. Please help us express our appreciation to Emily and Mike for today's fine session.