Today, all 50 states, Washington DC, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands are all members of EMAC.
During times of crises this nation comes together. Hurricane Katrina wreaked havoc on the states of Louisiana and Mississippi. Their local resources quickly became overwhelmed and exhausted and both states cried out to the nation for assistance. Through New Jersey’s Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC) system, the nation responded by sending over 61,000 people from states across the country to assist in the devastated area with specific missions. New Jersey deployed over 1,000 personnel for 13 different missions from different agencies across our state to assist those in need. The EMAC system made all this possible.
What is EMAC?
EMAC is a mutual aid compact between the states. The Fire Service, American Red Cross and the National Guard all have capabilities and guidelines for mutual aid. EMAC was originally envisioned in 1992 by Florida Governor Childs in the wake of Hurricane Andrew. It was an initial agreement between the member states of the Southern Governor’s Association before being recognized by the U.S. Congress through Public Law 104-321 in 1996. Today, all 50 states, Washington DC, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands are all members of EMAC.
Joining EMAC requires the member states to pass legislation, adopting the language of the Compact, and the signature of the Governor. New Jersey joined EMAC on October 4, 2001. The Compact contains 13 Articles which constitute the Agreement between the member states. The articles can be viewed by going to the EMAC website at www.emacweb.org. New Jersey enacted the legislation as written.
How does EMAC work?
Once the Governor of an affected state declares a State of Emergency, the EMAC process is set into motion. Communication for assistance and response is achieved through use of the EMAC website by the EMAC representatives from each state. Calls for assistance can be answered and more thoroughly explained through this system. In the case of Katrina, the New Jersey EMAC Coordinator was working in partnership with our County Offices of Emergency Management in evaluating what specific personnel and resources were needed. New Jersey deployed personnel for the following missions; Water Rescue, HazMat, DECON, Law Enforcement, Donations Management, EMAC A-Team, and the National Guard.
EMAC missions are achieved through the use of the interstate mutual aid request or Req-A Form. The Req-A puts in writing the request for assistance and the offer to fill the request originates through the EMAC website. The form is in three parts; Part I, Part II and Part III - when part III is completed, the form constitutes a “contract” between the requesting and sending states. Part I is completed by the requesting state seeking aid and requests the type of assistance that is needed, the duration of deployment, and the staging area to report to. The EMAC Authorized Representative of the affected state signs Part I. Part II is completed by the assisting state and specifies the type of assistance available for deployment, the costs associated with the deployment, for personnel and operations, and any other special conditions or circumstances associated with the deployment. The EMAC Authorized Representative from the assisting state signs Part II. Upon receipt of the terms and costs associated with the mission the EMAC Authorized Representative from the affected state will then sign Part III and send it back to the assisting state. This completes the contractual agreement and the EMAC system provides protections to those deployed under the thirteen articles of the compact.
After Katrina and the EMAC deployments, the State of New Jersey has conducted training for our 21 county partners and various state agencies in the EMAC process. They have established an EMAC representative that can now work with the State EMAC Coordinator during an EMAC activation event. We have expanded to eight EMAC A-team members, who are available to deploy to assist in the affected state.
The State of New Jersey is committed to ensuring that we adhere to the guidelines and principles as set forth in the EMAC articles and agreement. Working with our county and state agency partners and EMAC representatives we will be able to respond more efficiently and effectively to a disaster anywhere in the country. New Jersey personnel who deployed to Louisiana and Mississippi under the EMAC system performed in an exemplary manner and revealed how committed we are to assisting those in need.
For additional information or questions please contact Mr. Howard Butt, NJ EMAC Coordinator at 609-963-6995 or Lt. Joe Geleta, NJ EMAC A-Team at 609-963-6964.
Lt. Joe Geleta has been with the State Police for 21 years and is currently assigned to the State Police Office of Emergency Management as the Unit Head of the Support Services Unit. The Unit coordinates the State’s Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC) and conducts training for the EMAC system.
Article published in New Jersey Municipalities Magazine, May 2007