MILFORD, Mass. – In keeping with Maj. Gen. L. Scott Rice’s creed of people, mission accomplishment and partnership, leaders from the Massachusetts National Guard hosted the New England Strategic Planning System Regional meeting May 8, 2012.
Rice, The Adjutant General, Massachusetts National Guard (Acting), facilitated the meeting between National Guard General Officers, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency and the National Guard Bureau.
The goals of the meeting were to build and develop partnerships among federal, state, civil and military authorities by providing leaders with best practices for homeland emergency response.
During the meeting, panel members gave examples of overcoming challenges by working in concert with people from other organizations during emergencies to illustrate the power of a successful partnership.
Stressing the importance of interagency cooperation and communication Rice said, “I think it is important to give people the tools and support they need to be successful and to get them together in the same room so they can build and develop effective relationships that will be fruitful for many years. Once that is done, we are able to help each other accomplish all of our agencies missions, which in the end are intended to preserve and protect the American people.”
After a question and answer period Rice gave one example of what he sees as successful emergency response saying, “Emergency response comes down to having confidence in community response and ensuring that the right resources are brought to the right place at the right time. To do this successfully, a lot of people have to know how to work together and understand not only their role, but how others can contribute.”
Don Boyce, regional administrator, FEMA, echoed Rice’s point when he said,” Throughout my career in emergency response whether in the field or in an office, I find my asking three basic questions: What do you have? What do we have? And finally, if there is a need for something, what can I get?”
Boyce also elaborated on how planners need to understand all facets of requests for assistance from local communities and how to avoid misunderstandings to ensure their needs are met in a timely and responsible manner. “Too many assets in a short time can overwhelm first responders,” said Boyce.
Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency Director, Kurt Schwartz expressed one of his goals saying, “We need State Emergency Operations Centers to be a single point for communities that have exhausted their resources to ask for assistance and also to provide situational awareness by providing one common operational picture for federal, state and local governments.”