Local response agencies collaborate with DEMA during NCAA Final Four Tournament

Local response agencies collaborate with DEMA during NCAA Final Four Tournament

Local, county, state and federal agency representatives participate in the Multi Agency Coordination Center. Photo Courtesy: Phoenix Police Department

The NCAA Final Four Basketball Tournament brought fans from across the country to Arizona for sports and entertainment festivities. While college basketball teams played to advance to the championship, emergency management and response teams from local, county, state, and federal levels collaborated to keep travelers, visitors and community members safe.

The Multi Agency Coordination Center (MACC), an emergency management operational support function, was coordinated by the City of Phoenix Incident Management Team and the Phoenix Police Department. Serving as the main operations center, local, county, state and federal agency representatives assisted in various areas, including public safety, public information, operations, and logistics.

"DEMA is poised and ready to work with partners and support local response agencies," said Wendy Smith-Reeve, Arizona Department of Emergency and Military Affairs (DEMA) Deputy Director and Director of the Division of Emergency Management. "By collaborating across the local, county, tribal, state and federal levels, emergency management teams can maximize available resources. Our ability to partner and support one another ensures that we are fully prepared to respond to incidents that can affect the Whole Community."

Local response agencies take the lead in establishing incident management and emergency response efforts for large-scale events in their jurisdiction. Upon their request, DEMA assists in the coordination of resources to respond to an emergency once resources are exhausted at the local level. During the NCAA tournament, DEMA contributed to MACC operations by monitoring potential incidents and identifying if state support is needed.

The MACC’s collaborative approach provides the framework for streamlined communication and quicker response time in an emergency. By having state-level representatives in the coordination center, the Phoenix Police Department can tap into state resources more efficiently. This process allows emergency management teams to respond and keep infrastructure, communities, and lives safe.

During the Final Four, the Arizona National Guard’s Joint Operation Center increased personnel through the Joint Task Force to respond to the demands of this large scale event. Liaison officers from the Arizona National Guard were also seated fulltime in the MACC to provide monitoring support.

“When we collaborate with partner agencies, we build relationships and begin to communicate about capabilities and risks. This collective approach strengthens the readiness of the entire local area,” said Brig. Gen. Kerry Muehlenbeck, Joint Task Force Commander. “When the Arizona National Guard participates in these large-scale events, we cultivate those relationships that allow us to support local response agencies.”

National Guard Civil Support Teams from Arizona and across the nation also assisted by monitoring for potential chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear hazards during the Final Four tournaments, March Madness Music Festival, and various Fan Fest activities.

Over the years, local first responder agencies in Arizona have provided a model for emergency management of national large-scale events, which include regional and national sporting tournaments and political rallies. Partnerships across multiple levels of government, like those displayed during the NCAA Final Four this year, harbor the operational success of these events. 

“The Multi Agency Coordination Center in the Phoenix area continues to be successful by joining partners from a wide variety of governmental and private stakeholders in order to plan and execute major operations with confidence and competence,” said Chief Jeri Williams of the Phoenix Police Department. “Working together allows us to utilize resources effectively and ensure any contingency occurring is efficiently managed.”