EIIP Virtual Forum Presentation — May 23, 2007

The National Response Plan/NIMS Review
The Local Stakeholder Perspective

Steve Detwiler
Emergency Management Specialist
Orange County, Florida Office of Emergency Management

Amy Sebring
EIIP Moderator

The following version of the transcript has been edited for easier reading and comprehension. A raw, unedited transcript is available from our archives. See our home page at http://www.emforum.org

[Welcome / Introduction]

Amy Sebring: On behalf of Avagene and myself, welcome to the EIIP Virtual Forum! Our topic today is "The National Response Plan/NIMS Review: The Local Stakeholder Perspective."

When we originally scheduled this session we expected the NRP to be out by June 1, for the beginning of hurricane season, but that deadline has slipped and there has been no further announcement. I did watch FEMA Director Paulison testifying before a House committee last week, and he told the panel that he expected the NRP to be out during the month of June, before July 1 and the heaviest part of hurricane season.

Now it is my pleasure to introduce Steve Detwiler, Emergency Management Specialist/Planner for the Orange County, Florida Office of Emergency Management. Previously he worked as an emergency management consultant in Washington D.C. Steve is active in the International Association of Emergency Management (IAEM), and served as one of their designated representative to the national review process.

Welcome Steve and thank you for taking the time to be with us today. I now turn the floor over to you to start us off please.


Steve Detwiler: First I'd like to thank you all for attending and I hope you enjoy this presentation.

History of IAEM and the NRP/NIMS
IAEM’s involvement goes back to 2004 when the work on the National Response Plan (NRP) and the National Incident Management System (NIMS) first began. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to solicit comments from the Local and State governments established a State and Local Working Group.

Jim Raymond was named IAEM’s representative to this group. Following Hurricane Katrina, DHS directed the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to update the National Response Plan and the National Incident Management System.

IAEM NRP/NIMS Working Group
To aid Jim Raymond in making recommendation to DHS, IAEM formed this working group, which consists of the following individuals (including myself):

  • Jim Raymond
  • Daryl Spiewak
  • Pat Fugate
  • Jim Cook
  • Kathee Henning
  • Mary Ann Marrocolo
  • Ray Parent
  • Dan Robeson
  • Adam Abrams

Various documents related to the revision process are posted at: http://www.dhs.gov/xprepresp/programs/gc_1166653070655.shtm and links to related material are provided on the Background Page for today’s session.

NRP Revisions
This year's review of the National Response Plan is divided into several workgroups. On several workgroups an IAEM member serves and provides comments to changes or the creation of new sections of the NRP. These workgroups are:

  • Catastrophic Planning
  • Incident Management and Coordination
  • Training and Implementation
  • Roles and Responsibilities
  • Evacuation Management
  • Special Needs
  • Volunteers and Donations Management

This first slide shows the roles and responsibilities of the groups involved in reviewing and updating the NRP/NIMS. DHS is in overall control of this effort however the executive agent for the revisions is FEMA. Amy, Slide 1 please.

[Slide 1]

The workgroups are lead by Senior Federal employees from various Emergency Support Functions (ESFs) and the workgroups are composed primarily of first responder associations and other partners. These workgroups provide subject matter expertise to the Writing Team.

The writing team and workgroups are overseen by the NRP/NIMS Steering Committee, which is composed of Federal ESF representatives. As of today, below is a brief synopsis of the workgroups IAEM has a representative on:

Catastrophic Planning
The Catastrophic Incident Annex and the Supplement have been revised. These documents would be used to respond to a catastrophic disaster, which almost immediately overwhelms the resources of local, State and/or tribal governments.

As some of you have seen in the press the role of the National Guard and command and control with the U.S. Armed Forces is an issue being debated within this workgroup.

The principle change for the Annex and the Supplement is these documents were first created to deal with no-notice events. However, they have been expanded to deal with notice events.

Training and Implementation
This group is charged with how the NRP will be implemented across all the NRP signatories, the local, State and tribal governments, the Private Sector and the Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs). One important step forward is that the Emergency Management Institute has been an active participant from the very beginning.

Roles and Responsibilities
This group is responsible for defining and strengthening the roles and responsibilities sections of the NRP. Of particular interest to local, State and tribal partners, FEMA is adding language in the NRP to codify and strengthen the following concepts:

  • Incident Identification and Reporting
  • Assignment of resources
  • Organizational responsibilities in regards to emergency management
  • Defining the roles and responsibilities and relationship with our NGO partners.

Evacuation Management
This group is working to create an Evacuation Management Support Annex, which will guide the Federal government in aiding a local, State or tribal government in a large-scale evacuation.

This group is also tackling Companion Animal evacuations and including a standard set of definitions, such as what is a relocation center, what is an evacuation center, etc.

Special Needs
This group is breaking ground with incorporating special needs issues into the NRP. The first order of business is to define special needs. The current definition developed by this group is someone who is in one or more of the following categories of individuals:

  • Have a disability recognized under the Americans with Disabilities Act
  • Live in institutional settings (Nursing Homes, Assisted Living Facilities, etc.)
  • Elderly
  • Are from diverse cultures
  • Are non-English speakers or not proficient speaking in English
  • Have children
  • Have a transportation disadvantage (homeless, poor, etc.)

Volunteers and Donations Management
This group is charged with improving the process in which volunteers and donations are identified and accepted. This includes the following groups:

  • Nongovernmental/Non-Profit
  • Nongovernmental/For Profit
  • Governmental entities with Nongovernmental volunteers
  • Unaffiliated and Unsolicited Volunteers

This annex will support all of the ESF Annexes.

As you have probably seen on the news one of the biggest changes is FEMA is the lead agency for ESF #6 - Mass Care.

As most of you know the revision to the NRP was due to be completed and implemented on June 1st. However, we have been told that the revisions are on-hold. We are awaiting word from FEMA on when we will resume.

Update on NIMS

The recent revisions to NIMS are located at:


The review period has ended. But several major changes to this document include:

  • Elevation of Preparedness: The first chapter of NIMS is now preparedness, highlighting one of our principal responsibilities as emergency managers.

  • Multi-Agency Coordination System: This is now referred to as a system that will be used in Emergency Operations Center and MAC Entities.

Most of the other changes to NIMS involve enhancements to the existing document mainly from lessons learned following the 2005 Hurricane Season. The Incident Management System within FEMA (formerly known as the NIMS Integration Center) is leading this workgroup and is heavily involved.

A smart man once said "Decisions are made by those that show up." This next slide is a breakdown of which groups provided comments to NIMS. Amy, Slide 2 please.

[Slide 2]

As you can see Local government was the highest. We need to continue this trend and also encourage our partners to become more engaged in this process.

IAEM’s involvement in the NRP and NIMS has been profound. Being the only group that represents the needs and issues of local Emergency Managers, we were able to highlight the needs of the locals in the National Emergency Management System. As an example of this, our group successfully pushed for the inclusion of the Unified Command structure within the NRP Catastrophic Incident Annex and Supplement. This Unified Command structure would include the lead Federal agency, the State(s) affected and the jurisdiction directly impacted.

I would add that FEMA intends to publish the new NIMS document by June 1. This concludes our introductory overview. I will be happy to try to respond to your questions, and I turn the floor back over to our Moderator.

Amy Sebring: Thank you very much Steve. Now, to proceed to your questions and comments.

[Audience Questions & Answers]

Janet Smith: You mentioned that the definition of special needs posed by the group currently includes persons with children. It seems as if that would make the definition too broad for local/state emergency management to support special needs.

Steve Detwiler: I'm glad you brought this up. The current definition is pretty broad and this has caused significant debate on whether it is practical. Hilary Styron and Elizabeth Davis are IAEM’s representatives to the Special Needs Workgroup, so they have been tackling this issue. They routinely ask for my assistance as well.

Ric Skinner: Another special needs group should be just children, whether or not they fall into one of the categories you listed. I'm referring to kids without parents and no adult supervision or sponsorship; i.e., kids who are all alone, perhaps too young to know how to reach an extended family member, etc.

Steve Detwiler: That is a good point Ric. I'll bring it to Hilary and Elizabeth's attention.

Lois McCoy: The problem is often children separated from any one of their relatives in catastrophic emergencies.

Steve Detwiler: I can tell you that Family Reunification has been extensively discussed in the Evacuation Workgroup.

Steve Charvat: Steve, do you have any idea how much longer these Advisory Committees and Task Forces will be around to "advise" FEMA on the ongoing changes to the NRP?

Steve Detwiler: As far as I know, we will be in place until the document is published. After that we have no idea. I assume the National Advisory Council will have some say into how the NRP/NIMS are revised and who is involved.

Randall C. Duncan: Steve, can you give me your insight on the Coast Guard's impact on the current version of NIMS, and the development of a Field Operations Guide (FOG)?

Steve Detwiler: I'm not sure how extensively the Coast Guard has been involved. There are USCG representatives on our workgroups, but they don't appear to be running the show. What Randall is talking about is the recent development of a NIMS/ICS FOG. IAEM was approached to participate to review it, but my understanding is that the FOG was based on the State of FL FOG already in use.

Tom DiTanna: Can you comment on the new Florida legislation requiring each local emergency management to maintain a registry of persons with special needs that reside within the jurisdiction of that agency? How is this program being implemented? What is the reaction from the agencies to comply with this?

Steve Detwiler: Hi Tom, this is not a new requirement; it was started after Hurricane Andrew. It is implemented by each county EM Office in cooperation with the County Health Dept. As I said, this has been around for a few years, so it’s fully integrated into our operations. The state recently updated the Rule regarding Special needs, and a new State law requires the care of Pediatrics with Special Needs so we are still implementing those additions.

Kay Phillips: I apologize for a simplistic question; however, with all the revisions and updates, has there been any change to the definition of "catastrophic?"

Steve Detwiler: No, the definition has pretty much stayed the same since 2004.

Ric Skinner: Returning to the special needs topic, other kids that need to be considered are those of first responders, first receivers including hospital staff, etc. who cannot get to their kids because of their disaster response duties. These people need to know their families are being taken care of so they can focus on the emergency.

Steve Detwiler: Ric, I think this is outside the scope of the Special Needs Annex. That is talking about employee preparedness. Here in Orange County we open numerous employee shelters that provide day-care to care for our employees’ families. Most other counties in the state have similar shelters.

Richard Wells: Hello Steve. I would like some insight on lessons learned as far as information technologies and their use during catastrophes, specifically GIS.

Steve Detwiler: There hasn't been much discussion in the workgroups on GIS, but as a FL Emergency Manager, I can tell you how invaluable it is.

Avagene Moore: Steve, your overview impresses me with the magnitude of what the workgroups have undertaken and I commend you and everyone involved for diligence as you press on. My question: One area that hits me as difficult is the Training and Implementation of the NRP as far as outreach to and implementation within the broad spectrum of signatories listed - are you aware of how this will be done?

Steve Detwiler: Somewhat. EMI has been an active participate in this group. They will be spearheading training local, State, tribal and Federal partners. As for the overall strategy I have not seen that yet.

Janet Smith: As a part of the revision processes, how satisfied are you with the level of public/private/NGO interaction? As the sectors continue to share responsibilities, are the issues and challenges that go along with that coming to the surface during these revisions? I'm thinking of things like how greater incorporation of the private sector can increase private sector liability (i.e., using Amtrak for evacuation, etc.) which may be too tactical for the NRP and NIMS workgroups.

Steve Detwiler: I'm very satisfied. Most of the groups have an IAEM and NEMA rep on them. As far as the private sector, that is a difficult needle to thread. I don't believe there is one solution to involving the private sector. Their priorities are often times different, mainly to resume operations. So there will always be an issue in involving them.

Amy Sebring: Steve, this document is called the National Response Plan, yet I am still getting the idea that the document still is basically a federal plan. Is it seen that way in D.C.? Or, do you see an evolution beginning towards a more comprehensive and truly national scope?

Steve Detwiler: Not sure of how D.C. sees this plan yet, but you’re right. Most of the plan deals with the federal players; however, some of the additions you'll see reflect increased discussion on local, State and tribal partners’ responsibilities.

Gary Timm: I am Broadcast Chair of the Wisconsin Emergency Alert System. With vital role broadcasters played in disseminating post-Katrina info, are we being involved any more directly in NIMS/NRP? (I have passed IS-100 & IS-700, so am familiar with NIMS and ICS).

Steve Detwiler: Not really sure what you mean, but the media is heavily relied on in the current NRP to disseminate info, especially on the local, State and tribal level.

Ric Skinner: I suggest that healthcare systems, and particularly those with multiple hospitals and clinics, need to be considered almost in the same context as local and tribal entities. This is beyond Public Health. I’m focused on private health assets, capacities, and response.

Steve Detwiler: Part of this is being addressed through ESF 8- Health and Medical, but hospitals, etc. who reside in a local jurisdiction, I feel should reach out to their local government. We succeed or fail based on our interactions.

Amy Sebring: Steve, I understood that one of the issues identified for the NRP was an increased federal role, essentially for assuming temporary command if the state or local jurisdictions became incapacitated in a catastrophic disaster. How did that issue play out in the revision?

Steve Detwiler: We are still addressing this issue. One of the discussions in the Catastrophic Planning group was how this would work. The locals and States recommended using Unified Command. Even if all local and State assets are unavailable they still have a legal and moral responsibility to oversee a response to a disaster. The current Catastrophic Incident Supplement identifies that the lowest government level affected is still in charge.

Kay Phillips: To your knowledge is there any change in NIMS which directly ties applicant eligibility for FEMA/Federal disaster assistance available under the Stafford Act and NIMS compliance?

Steve Detwiler: Not that I'm aware of.

Avagene Moore: Comment first: back to my first question about Training and Implementation. I see this as much broader in scope and needing more than what EMI can offer to be effective because of private sector, etc. Question: How involved are the tribal governments in the various workgroups?

Steve Detwiler: In the workgroups I'm on, I don't remember any tribal partners involved.

Janet Smith: In NRP discussions, does FEMA's State and Local Guide 101 ever enter discussion? I am wondering because the SLG 101 (I believe) is still FEMA's guide for all-hazards planning, but more and more agencies (mainly federal) seem to be moving away from an all-hazards approach, focusing on the 15 National Planning Scenarios. SLG 101 is a state and local guide, but aren't federal agencies supposed to use it as well?

Steve Detwiler: I can tell you that FEMA is in the process on rewriting SLG 101 to update it. IAEM has been involved and continues to be. I don't know where they are though in this process. As far as the 15 Scenarios - I'm not seeing the Feds shifting away from All-Hazards - they seem to be coming back to them more and more.

Jane Kushma: It seems like the workgroup approach has been successful in furthering the NRP planning process. Do you see this approach eventually be adopted by the ESFs?

Steve Detwiler: I would hope so.

W.R. Lang: How do you think the Feds would feel about businesses banding together to get resources they need to continue operations? What would the Feds do if foreign contractors came flying in to help businesses recover because the federal plan had holes that needed to be filled for businesses? Is anyone addressing that possibility?

Steve Detwiler: That’s a good question. I don't think the Feds would have a problem if businesses banded together. As far as foreign influenc,e this is being addressed by the International Support workgroup and you’re right--there were significant holes in receiving and processing foreign assistance and resources.

Amy Sebring: Steve, do you know if they will make the Catastrophic Incident Supplement public this time?

Steve Detwiler: Probably not.


Amy Sebring: Let's wrap it up for today. Thank you very much Steve for an excellent job. We hope you enjoyed the experience. Please stand by a moment while we make a couple of quick announcements.

Again, the formatted transcript will be available later today. If you are not on our mailing list and would like to get notices of future sessions and availability of transcripts, just go to our home page to Subscribe. If your organization is interested in becoming an EIIP Partner, please see the link to Partnership for You.

Thanks to everyone for participating today. We stand adjourned but before you go, please help me show our appreciation to Steve for a fine job.