“Around our house we don’t bother planning disasters. They seem to happen well-enough on their own.”
If the above is a close description of normal for you and yours, welcome to the club.
In the past I’ve had folks ask about how they could help. (There are lots of different ways and answers for that simple question!) And about a year back I gave folks a brief primer on ICS. This year I’ll visit about disaster/emergency planning & responses before something starts burning. And I’ll give folks a bit of an update to some of the efforts in this vein.
Not that the top in disaster response is the most important, it isn’t really; the ground troops are. But sometimes it’s hard to get the best perspective when you’re underneath everything. So let me start at the top and work my way down, beginning with something we call SERRP.
For starters the State Emergency Response and Recovery Plan is extensive! The “Basic Plan” that’s publicly available at the page that I linked to above runs 40 pages; and that’s really just an overview. The full plan consists of a variety of ESFs – Emergency Support Functions (which also sometimes consist of Annexes, Appendices, and other add-ons.) These follow an outline laid down by the federal government – National Disaster Recovery Framework.
There are 15 ESFs in total with about a double-handful of annexes; the Department of Agriculture (ADA) is listed as a primary, secondary, or supporting agency in about half of these documents. For example ESF#6 – Mass Care, Housing and Human Services – includes responsibilities and plans addressing things like disaster housing (including animals). ESF#11 – Agriculture and Natural Resources – includes things like food security, safety, distribution as well as specific annexes for foreign animal diseases.
Let me take you a notch deeper into the system. Up above I pointed out that ADA is a primary state agency in some of the ESFs. Each Function defines what entity (or entities) has primary responsibility. It also lists secondary agencies. But here’s where we get back to the base question of how to help. ESF also lists the primary and any secondary supporting agencies.
These are the various organizations of volunteers and concerned individuals, non-governmental organizations/charities that have come forward and stated they will provide assistance in time of disaster. Some of these organizations are the Arizona Veterinary Medical Association, Arizona Humane Society, and Humane Society of Southern Arizona. Members of these groups along with myself and folks from AGFD, USDA APHIS WS and VS also have formed AZSART – Arizona State Animal Response Team. If you think of it as a steering committee for developing the supporting organizations’ people and capabilities, you’re on the right track.
Here’s something of a run-down:
SERRP > ESF (mulitples) > ADA (primarily Animal Services Division) > Secondary Agencies (e.g. AGFD) > Supporting Agencies (e.g. AZVMA) > SART, etc > CART (County Animal Response Teams), etc > Volunteer
A few weeks back about a dozen volunteers went through training on how to decontaminate animals (primarily focused on pets). Thanks John Reynolds! Last fall we had our first orientation and training session for folks who wanted to be part of local emergency response efforts. More will be held as we develop the capacity to do so. Stay tuned for details.
And enjoy the ride.