2016 kept DEMA busy with partner response

2016 kept DEMA busy with partner response

Images from Cedar Creek Fire, HazMat Training, PVNGS Drill, Hualapi Full Scale Exercise, DEMA Preparedness Symposium

Each year can mean different things when it comes to emergency management. For the Arizona Department of Emergency and Military Affairs (DEMA), 2016 meant a few wildfires to monitor around the State, some severe weather, and a disaster declaration due to hail and flooding in Graham County.

The year 2016 was also DEMA’s first Preparedness Symposium, a day for more than 400 people to gather and talk about Whole Community Preparedness, sharing ideas about ways to reduce the impact of emergencies and disasters on people, property and the environment.

The event’s focus was three-fold: to empower Arizonans to prepare themselves and support vulnerable populations; to understand the crippling effects of Cyber Security and Counter Terrorism; and to protect Arizona’s Natural Resources.

In 2016, the Operations and Coordination Section continued to support Arizona’s fifteen counties with the coordination of state emergency response assets, recovery and hazard mitigation.


The Response Branch worked closely with state, county, local and federal partners by coordinating assets and sending liaisons to provide operational support during severe storm incidents, and wildland fires, including the Cedar Fire in Navajo County.


The Search, Rescue and Warning Coordinator provided around the clock support to the county sheriffs in their search and rescue (SAR) efforts.  Close to 600 SAR missions were conducted last year, searching for people (lost, injured, or stranded) and missing aircraft in remote, inaccessible terrain.


The Field Operations Branch responded to four requests for assistance to county declared emergencies and supported professional training programs, emergency response exercises, and mitigation projects throughout the State.


DEMA’s Human Services group works with individuals and businesses to prepare for and recover from disasters. During a disaster, they work directly with impacted people to provide shelter, food and other support as needed. When there are no active disasters, Human Services coordinates and develops partnerships and response and recovery plans with local volunteer agencies and the private sector.

Two major events in 2016 put into action two of the many Human Services programs.  They managed the coordination of Mass Care for nearly two weeks during the Cedar Fire in Navajo County. Mass Care includes, but is not limited to, working with partner organizations that provide various resources, sheltering and feeding. 

In October, a severe weather event and flooding in Graham County destroyed cotton and affected local businesses. Human Services worked to facilitate U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Small Business Administration declarations for those businesses impacted by the storm.

The Infrastructure group administers Arizona’s Public Assistance Program and provides support and education to its partners to assist them in their recovery from events. Recovery is the longest phase of a disaster and can take anywhere from a year to multiple years.


The Infrastructure group continued the management of the September 2014 flooding event, reviewing 110 projects worth approximately $8 million in disaster assistance. The State currently manages five open Federal disasters and seven State disasters. 


Additionally, the Governor's Emergency Fund supported two State declared disasters: the Cedar Fire and the Graham County Flooding events.  Six jurisdictions were also assisted with mitigation projects via funding from the Governor's Emergency Fund.


A big portion of DEMA’s relationship with its partners is communications, including web-based and radios. Arizona recently upgraded WebEOC (web-based emergency operations center software) that is accessed by all jurisdictions. The software currently supports approximately 2,800 users.  A statewide WebEOC user group was established last year to standardize Emergency Operation Center processes and tools. DEMA representatives traveled throughout Arizona to train state agencies and county partners on WebEOC for improved situational awareness and common operating picture.


The Preparedness Section focuses on planning, training and exercise and works to serve all county, local, tribal and non-governmental partners with their preparedness needs.


The Planning Branch has been hard at work reviewing, rebuilding, reformatting and designing all the plans that they are responsible for to ensure that they are easy to employ in times of exercises or real life deployments.  The team took the 700+ paged State Emergency Response and Recovery Plan and whittled it down to an efficient, and easy to understand 171 pages.


The Training Branch offers emergency management, homeland security and hazardous materials training across Arizona to emergency management personnel and those involved in response and recovery.  Last year, they coordinated 248 classes to more than 4,804 students, with topics ranging from Incident Command to Active Shooter. 


The Exercise Branch plans, designs, conducts and evaluates exercises around the State. Exercises include seminars, workshops, tabletop, functional and full-scale exercises. Last year, they worked on 20 exercises for more than 1,000 participants representing 92 agencies from the federal, state, tribal, county, and local levels, as well as non-governmental organizations, healthcare organizations and private sector businesses.


The Radiological Emergency Preparedness Program (REP), which works closely with the Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station (PVNGS), officially expanded to include two full time staff to support REP activities.


Last year, REP provided in-person exercise support assistance to California Governor's Office of Emergency Services and San Luis Obispo County Office of Emergency Services for the Diablo Canyon Power Plant Ingestion Pathway drill and exercise in San Luis Obispo, CA.


REP conducted the largest ever tour of the PVNGS site by the Offsite Program with 71 participants from DEMA, Arizona Departments of Health Services and Agriculture, the 492nd Civil Affairs Battalion, Maricopa County Department of Emergency Management, Salt River Pima Maricopa Indian Community, and the Tohono O'odham Nation.


The Grant Administration Section oversees several Federal and State grants that enhance emergency management capabilities throughout the State. The grants are used for a variety of projects, such as infrastructure repair, mitigation, recovery efforts, planning, exercises, training and more.


The Emergency Management Performance Grant (EMPG) Program provides funding to the State, local governments, and tribal partners in Arizona to sustain and enhance programs and resources to support a comprehensive, all-hazard emergency preparedness system. 


The EMPG Program participates in the Governor's Lean Transformation project, designed to streamline processes and procedures, as well as implementing change. Last year, the team exceeded their initial goal for program review and reimbursement turnaround of 60 days to under 25 days. The team conducted grant workshops in the northern, southern and central regions and provided technical site visits for additional support/guidance.


The Public Information Office (PIO) provides preparedness and hazard information via Twitter (7,053 followers) and Facebook (2,027 likes). Last year, they sent out 1,476 tweets and posted 671 times on Facebook. The PIO shared more than 600 real-time emergency updates on the Arizona Emergency Information Network from partner agencies.

The PIO launched a new flood awareness campaign in September called “Anytime. Anywhere.” The campaign reminds residents that everyone is at risk of being affected by flooding, no matter where they live, anytime, anywhere. The Public Service Announcements, billboards and web page encouraged residents about the very real risks and to be prepared.