DEMA Year in Review
DEMA Year in Review
Phoenix -- SUV’s bouncing down rough dirt roads, people studying water divergent projects, radios buzzing with chatter, telephones ringing… these were some of the activities that culminated in a busy 2014 for the Arizona Department of Emergency and Military Affairs (DEMA). Behind-the-scenes planning, training and exercises kept (and keeps) the Division of Emergency Management staff hard at work.
The Training Branch coordinates state preparedness training, along with federal courses via the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Emergency Management Institute (EMI). Emergency management instructors presented 320 hazardous materials, homeland security and emergency management courses to 6,900 people in 14 counties in 2014.
Exercises assist communities in preparing for an emergency or disaster. The Exercise Branch creates exercises so government and non-government personnel can practice their response plans and processes. Last year, the team coordinated 38 exercises for more than 3,000 individuals.
The exercises focused on such topics as school safety, cyber security, rapid response teams, Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station (PVNGS) emergency response, active shooter, technical communication, and hazardous materials.
A handful of Super Bowl-specific exercises were held to prepare first responders and public safety officers for a potential emergency during the 2015 event.
The Radiological Preparedness Branch (REP) works closely with the Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station (PVNGS) on emergency preparedness and planning. Approximately 700 people participated in 13 PVNGS-related exercises, including 2 full scale exercises last year.
The REP branch also taught 11 training classes for 320 Palo Verde responders, including the Naval Postgraduate School REP Executive Education Seminar for senior officials.
The Search and Rescue Branch (SAR) mobilizes assets, coordinates resources and provides training to the 15 county sheriffs in Arizona. The SAR coordinator also organizes searches for missing aircraft, and Emergency/Personal Locator Transmitters (emergency beacons that transmit distress signals when activated) in Arizona.
Last year, 754 SAR missions were conducted in Arizona. The missions involved searching for individuals who were lost, injured, stranded or deceased in remote and often inaccessible terrain.
The Arizona State Emergency Response Commission (AZSERC) maintains the electronic Tier II Chemical Reporting System, a repository for the receipt and coordination of emergency notifications of chemical releases, and collection and dissemination of chemical inventory information.
Industries are required to report what hazardous chemicals they store that are above threshold quantities established by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In 2014, more than 4,000 reports were made on AZSERC’s Tier II Chemical Reporting system.
The role of the Mitigation Branch is to help communities to prepare against damages from disasters, a large part of recovery. In 2014, the Branch managed 15 different mitigation projects around Arizona worth close to $6 million. The projects came from three different federal mitigation grant programs. The projects range from physical construction of mitigation features to mitigation planning efforts.
The Human Services Branch works closely with government agencies and voluntary groups to provide recovery assistance to people impacted by disasters. Over the summer, they worked with the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) to conduct preliminary damage assessments after the monsoonal flooding. SBA estimates that Disaster Loan Assistance could exceed $3.5 million for impacted Arizona homeowners, renters, and businesses.
The Infrastructure Branch supports state and local jurisdictions recovering from a declared disaster. In 2014, the Branch closed eight disaster declarations, including the 2005 winter storm. The Infrastructure Branch also sent three reservists to Colorado for 30 days to assist with their disaster declaration due to storms and flooding.
The Public Information Office (PIO) communicates clear, coordinated and timely information about preparedness and hazards to the public in a variety of ways – articles, releases, the Arizona Emergency Information Network (AzEIN), and social media.
AzEIN is the state’s source for real-time emergency updates, and preparedness and hazard information. The Emergency Bulletin System (EBS) provides information about a variety of issues – fire, weather, health, road conditions, etc. In 2014, the PIO posted more than 500 emergency bulletins to www.EIN.az.gov.
The PIO uses Twitter and Facebook to advocate preparedness, share stories, and disseminate emergency bulletins. In 2014, @AzEIN’s Twitter followers grew to 6,238. On Facebook, ArizEIN grew its audience with 289 new page likes, moving total likes up to 1,592.