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Response and Recovery

Table of Contents
Basic Plan
Emergency Support Function Annexes
Recovery Function
Support Annexes
Incident Annexes
Appendices
Figure Directory

Concept of Operations from the Basic Plan of the Federal Response Plan, April 1999

  1. Concept of Operations

  2.  
    1. General

    2.  
      1. Most disasters and emergencies are handled by local and State responders.  The Federal Government is called upon to provide supplemental assistance when the consequences of a disaster exceed local and State capabilities.  If needed, the Federal Government can mobilize an array of resources to support State and local efforts.  Various emergency teams, support personnel, specialized equipment, operating facilities, assistance programs, and access to private-sector resources constitute the overall Federal disaster operations system.  The FRP describes the major components of the system, as well as the structure for coordinating Federal response and recovery actions necessary to address State-identified requirements and priorities.

      2.  
      3. The FRP employs a multiagency operational structure that uses the principles of the Incident Command System (ICS), based on a model adopted by the fire and rescue community.  ICS can be used in any size or type of disaster to control response personnel, facilities, and equipment.  ICS principles include use of common terminology, modular organization, integrated communications, unified command structure, action planning, manageable span-of-control, pre-designated facilities, and comprehensive resource management.  The basic functional modules of ICS (e.g., operations, logistics) can be expanded or contracted to meet requirements as an event progresses.

      4. Consistent with ICS principles, the FRP can be partially or fully implemented, in anticipation of a significant event or in response to an actual event.  Selective implementation through the activation of one or more of the system’s components allows maximum flexibility in meeting the unique operational requirements of the situation and interacting with differing State systems and capabilities.
         

    3. Concurrent Implementation of Other Federal Emergency Plans

    4.  
      1. An incident involving hazardous substances, weapons of mass destruction, or other lethal agents or materials may require a response under another Federal emergency operations plan (National Contingency Plan, Federal Radiological Emergency Response Plan, etc.).  These plans delineate measures necessary to handle or contain released materials and keep the public properly informed and protected.

      2.  
      3. Several of these plans designate a Lead Federal Agency (LFA) to coordinate the Federal response.  The LFA is determined by the type of emergency.  In general, an LFA establishes operational structures and procedures to assemble and work with agencies providing direct support to the LFA in order to obtain an initial assessment of the situation, develop an action plan, and monitor and update operational priorities.  The LFA ensures that each agency exercises its concurrent and distinct authorities and supports the LFA in carrying out relevant policy.  Specific responsibilities of an LFA vary according to the agency’s unique statutory authorities.

      4.  
      5. If the incident also involves concurrent implementation of the FRP, the LFA and FEMA coordinate to the maximum extent practical to ensure effective, unified Federal actions, consistent with their distinct authorities and responsibilities.  Direct FEMA support to an LFA is limited to FEMA’s own authorities, resources, and expertise as an individual agency.

      6.  
      7. In a response to an emergency involving a radiological hazard, the LFA under the FRERP is responsible for Federal oversight of activities on site and Federal assistance to conduct radiological monitoring and assessment and develop protective action recommendations.  When a radiological emergency warrants action under the Stafford Act, FEMA uses the FRP to coordinate the nonradiological response to consequences off site in support of the affected State and local governments.  If the FRERP and FRP are implemented concurrently, the Federal On-Scene Commander under the FRERP coordinates the FRERP response with the FCO, who is responsible for coordination of all Federal support to State and local governments.  (Operational interfaces between the FRP and other Federal emergency plans are covered in more detail in the pertinent ESF and incident annexes.)

      8.  
    5. Integration of Response, Recovery, and Mitigation Actions

    6.  
      1. Following a disaster, immediate response operations to save lives, protect property, and meet basic human needs have precedence over recovery and mitigation.  However, initial recovery planning should commence at once in tandem with response operations.  Actual recovery operations will be initiated commensurate with State priorities and based on availability of resources immediately required for response operations.

      2.  
      3. In recognition that certain response and recovery activities may be conducted concurrently, coordination at all levels is essential to ensure consistent Federal actions throughout the disaster.

      4.  
      5. Mitigation opportunities should be actively considered throughout disaster operations.  Decisions made during response and recovery operations can either enhance or hinder subsequent mitigation activities.  The urgency to rebuild as soon as possible must be weighed against the longer term goal of reducing future risk and lessening possible impacts should another disaster occur.

      6.  
    7. Organizational Relationships

    8.  
      1. Federal Emergency Management Agency

      2. Under the Stafford Act, FEMA serves as the primary coordinating agency for disaster response and recovery activities.  To carry out this interagency role, FEMA executes a wide range of administrative, programmatic, and specialized tasks.  Initial tasks include notification, activation, mobilization, deployment, staffing, and facility setup.  FEMA processes the Governor’s request for disaster assistance, coordinates Federal operations under a disaster declaration, and appoints an FCO for each declared State.  In continuing operations, FEMA provides support for logistics management; communications and information technology; financial management; community relations, congressional affairs, public information, and other outreach; and information collection, analysis, and dissemination.
         

      3. Emergency Support Functions

      4.  
        1. The FRP employs a functional approach that groups under 12 ESFs the types of direct Federal assistance that a State is most likely to need (e.g., mass care, health and medical services), as well as the kinds of Federal operations support necessary to sustain Federal response actions (e.g., transportation, communications).  ESFs are expected to support one another in carrying out their respective missions.

        2.  
        3. Each ESF is headed by a primary agency designated on the basis of its authorities, resources, and capabilities in the particular functional area.  Other agencies have been designated as support agencies for one or more ESFs based on their resources and capabilities to support the functional area(s).  ESF primary and support agency designations are shown in Figure 4.

        4.  
        5. Federal response assistance required under the FRP is provided using some or all of the ESFs as necessary.  FEMA will issue a mission assignment to task a primary agency for necessary work to be performed on a reimbursable basis.  The primary agency may in turn task support agencies if needed.  Specific ESF missions, organizational relationships, response actions, and primary and support agency responsibilities are described in the ESF annexes to the FRP.  In cases where required assistance is outside the scope of an ESF, FEMA may directly task any Federal agency to bring its resources to bear in the disaster operation.

        6.  
        7. Requests for assistance from local jurisdictions are channeled to the SCO through the designated State agencies in accordance with the State emergency operations plan and then to the FCO or designee for consideration.  Based on State-identified response requirements and FCO or designee approval, ESFs coordinate with their counterpart State agencies or, if directed, with local agencies to provide the assistance required.  Federal fire, rescue, and emergency medical responders arriving on scene are integrated into the local ICS structure.

        8.  
      5. Military Support

      6.  
        1. DOD maintains significant resources (personnel, equipment, and supplies) that may be available to support the Federal response to a major disaster or emergency.  DOD will normally provide support only when other resources are unavailable, and only if such support does not interfere with its primary mission or ability to respond to operational contingencies.

        2.  
        3. Upon execution of the FRP, requests for military resource support must be accompanied by a Request for Federal Assistance (RFA) form, unless the DOD component is responding under its independent funding authority or the commander’s immediate response authority as defined in the DOD Manual for Civil Emergencies (DOD 3025.1M).  (Note:  The inability to immediately obtain an RFA should not preclude approved support.)

        4.  
        5. Prior to appointment of a Defense Coordinating Officer (DCO) (addressed below), national-level requests for military support are made through the Director of Military Support (DOMS), who represents the DOD executive agent (Secretary of the Army) for provision of military assistance to civil authorities.  DOMS exercises national-level oversight of the DCO function.

        6.  
        7. Requests for military support at the Disaster Field Office (DFO) are processed through the DCO, the military official specifically designated to orchestrate DOD support.  To ensure a coordinated and consistent DOD disaster response, the DCO is the single point of contact in the field for coordinating and validating the use of DOD resources (excluding those provided by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) when operating as the primary agency for ESF #3 — Public Works and Engineering, and those of the National Guard forces operating under State control).  The DCO:

        8.  
          1. Is the designated DOD on-scene member of the ERT;

          2.  
          3. Coordinates RFAs and mission assignments with the FCO or designated representative, normally the ERT Operations Section Chief; and

          4.  
          5. Is supported on scene by a Defense Coordinating Element (DCE), composed of administrative staff and liaison personnel, including the Emergency Preparedness Liaison Officer (EPLO), who normally will collocate with the ERT Operations Section.

          6.  
          Specific responsibilities of the DCO (subject to modification based on the situation) include validating requirements for military support (i.e., determining if the military could and should support the request); forwarding mission assignments to the appropriate military organization(s); and assigning military liaison officers to provide technical assistance to applicable activated ESFs.  The DCO, through appropriate military channels, refers problematic/contentious military support issues to DOMS.  DOMS facilitates resolution of issues at the national level.
           
        9. Based on the magnitude and type of disaster and the anticipated level of resource involvement, DOD may establish a Joint Task Force (JTF) or Response Task Force (RTF) to consolidate and manage supporting operational military activities.  Both task forces are temporary, multiservice organizations created to provide a consequence management response to a major natural or man-made disaster or emergency.  The JTF responds to major disasters such as hurricanes or floods.  The RTF responds to events involving the use, or possible use, of chemical, biological, and/or highly explosive agents/materials.  A JTF or RTF commander exercises operational control of all allocated DOD assets (except USACE personnel executing ESF #3 missions and the Joint Special Operations Task Force); provides personnel, equipment, and supplies to the affected area; and provides disaster response support based on mission assignments received through the DCO.  Although both commanders may supplant the DCO as the senior DOD representative, the DCO will continue to exercise the ERT staff function of mission assignment coordination and validation, and will act as a liaison between the ERT staff and the JTF or RTF staff.

        10.  
      7. Federal Law Enforcement Assistance

      8.  
        1. In a disaster or emergency, each State has primary responsibility for law enforcement, using State and local resources, including the National Guard (to the extent that the National Guard remains under State authority and has not been called into Federal service or ordered to active duty).  Acccordingly, the FRP makes no provision for direct Federal support of law enforcement functions in a disaster or emergency.

        2.  
        3. If a State government should experience a law enforcement emergency (including one in connection with a disaster or emergency) in which it could not provide an adequate response to protect the lives and property of citizens, the State (on behalf of itself or a local unit of government) might submit an application in writing from the Governor to the Attorney General of the United States to request emergency Federal law enforcement assistance under the Justice Assistance Act of 1984 (42 U.S.C. 10501-10513) as prescribed in 28 CFR 65.  The Attorney General will approve or disapprove the application no later than 10 days after receipt.  If the application is approved, Federal law enforcement assistance may be provided to include equipment, training, intelligence, and personnel.

        4.  
        5. In the event that State and local police forces (including the National Guard operating under State control) are unable to adequately respond to a civil disturbance or other serious law enforcement emergency, a Governor may request, through the Attorney General, Federal military assistance under 10 U.S.C. 15.  Pursuant to 10 U.S.C. 331-333, the President will ultimately determine whether to use the Armed Forces to respond to a law enforcement emergency.  Under Title 10 authority, the President may federalize and deploy all or part of any State’s National Guard.

        6.  
        7. Procedures for coordinating DOD and Department of Justice (DOJ) responses to law enforcement emergencies arising under 10 U.S.C. 331-333 are set forth in the DOD Civil Disturbance Plan (GARDEN PLOT), February 15, 1991.

        8.  
        9. Policies and structures for coordinating FRP operations with a DOJ response to threats or acts of terrorism within the United States are described in the FRP Terrorism Incident Annex.

        10.  
    9. Emergency Teams and Facilities

    10.  

       

      The FRP and its operational components are designed to be flexible in order to accommodate the response and recovery requirements specific to the disaster.  In general, headquarters-level components provide support to the regional-level components that implement the on-scene operations in the field.  Major components include:
       

      1. National Emergency Coordination Center/Mobile Emergency Response Support Operations Center

      2.  
        1. The National Emergency Coordination Center (NECC) serves as FEMA’s official notification point of an impending or actual disaster or emergency.  This facility maintains a 24-hour capability to monitor all sources of warning/disaster information, including other Federal agencies, FEMA regions, and the news media.  The NECC reports disaster events to FEMA key officials, FEMA regions, and FRP signatory agencies.

        2.  
        3. Each FEMA region is supported by a Mobile Emergency Response Support (MERS) Operations Center (MOC).  Each MOC operates 24 hours a day and is tasked with monitoring events and providing pertinent information to FEMA regional staff and the NECC.

        4.  
      3. Regional Operations Center

      4. The Regional Operations Center (ROC) staff coordinates Federal response efforts until an ERT is established in the field and the FCO assumes coordination responsibilities.  Generally operating from the FEMA Regional Office, the ROC establishes communications with the affected State emergency management agency and the EST; coordinates deployment of the Emergency Response Team — Advance Element (ERT-A) to field locations; assesses damage information and develops situation reports (under ESF #5 — Information and Planning); and issues initial mission assignments.  The ROC is activated by the FEMA Regional Director based on the level of response required.  It is led by a ROC Director and consists of FEMA staff and ESF representatives, as well as a Regional Emergency Preparedness Liaison Officer (REPLO) who assists in coordination of  requests for military support.  Financial management activity at the ROC will be monitored and reported by the Comptroller.  A ROC organization is shown in Figure 5.
         

      5. Emergency Response Team — Advance Element

      6. The ERT-A is the initial Federal group that responds to an incident in the field.  It is headed by a team leader from FEMA and is composed of FEMA program and support staff and representatives from selected ESF primary agencies.  A part of the ERT-A deploys to the State Emergency Operations Center (EOC) or to other locations to work directly with the State to obtain information on the impact of the event and to identify specific State requests for Federal response assistance that are called back to the ROC for processing.  Other elements of the ERT-A (including MERS personnel and equipment) deploy directly to or near the affected area to establish field communications, locate and establish field facilities, and set up operations.  The ERT-A identifies or validates the suitability of candidate sites for the location of mobilization center(s) and the DFO.
         

      7. National Emergency Response Team

      8. In a catastrophic disaster or high-visibility incident that would demand the full capabilities of FEMA, a National Emergency Response Team (ERT-N) may deploy to the affected area.  The Director of FEMA determines the need for an ERT-N deployment, coordinating the plans with the affected region and other Federal agencies.  The ERT-N comprises staff from FEMA Headquarters and regional offices as well as other Federal agencies.  (Three ERT-N teams are rostered; each team is on call every third month.)
         

      9. Disaster Field Office

      10. The DFO is the primary field location in each affected State for the coordination of Federal response and recovery operations.  It operates 24 hours per day, as needed, or under a schedule sufficient to sustain Federal operations.  The FCO and SCO collocate at the DFO, along with Federal agency regional representatives and State and local liaison officers, when possible.  Once the DFO is ready for use, the ERT-A and/or ERT-N is augmented by FEMA and other Federal agency staff to form a full ERT.
         

      11. Emergency Response Team

      12. The ERT is the principal interagency group that supports the FCO in coordinating the overall Federal disaster operation.  Located at the DFO, the ERT ensures that Federal resources are made available to meet State requirements identified by the SCO.  The size and composition of the ERT can range from FEMA regional office staff who are primarily conducting recovery operations to an interagency team having representation from all ESF primary and support agencies undertaking full response and recovery activities. The ERT organizational structure, encompassing the FCO’s support staff and four main sections (Operations, Information and Planning, Logistics, and Administration), is shown in Figure 6.
         

        1. FCO Support Staff

        2.  
          1. The FCO’s immediate staff can include a Deputy FCO and/or Deputy FCO for Mitigation as well as representatives providing assistance in the following organizational or functional areas: Equal Rights, Safety Officer, Environmental Officer, General Counsel, Emergency Information and Media Affairs, Congressional and Legislative Affairs, Community Relations, Office of the Inspector General, and Comptroller.

          2.  
          3. In addition, a Defense Coordinating Officer works closely with the FCO or designated representative in orchestrating military support.

          4.  
        3. Operations Section

        4.  
          1. This section coordinates the delivery of Federal assistance and manages the activities of various emergency teams.  Immediate support staff functions include Mission Assignment Coordination, Action Tracking, Defense Coordinating Element, and Mobile Emergency Response Support.

          2.  
          3. The section is composed of four branches — Operations Support, Human Services, Infrastructure Support, and Emergency Services.  As shown in Figure 7, the 12 ESFs, along with several recovery program groups, are organized functionally under the branches to provide a coordinated approach and ensure seamless delivery of assistance to disaster survivors and the affected State.

          4.  
        5. Information and Planning Section

        6. This section has two major tasks: the collection, processing, analysis, and dissemination of information about disaster operations to support planning and decision making at both the field operations and headquarters levels; and the coordination of short- and long-term planning at the field operations level.  (See ESF #5 — Information and Planning Annex for additional information.)
           

        7. Logistics Section

        8. This section plans, organizes, and directs logistics operations that include control and accountability for supplies and equipment; resource ordering; delivery of supplies, equipment, and services to the DFO and other field locations; resource tracking; facility location, setup, space management, building services, and general facility operations; transportation coordination and fleet management services; information and technology systems services; administrative services such as mail management and reproduction; and customer assistance.  (See the Logistics Management Support Annex for additional information.)
           

        9. Administration Section

        10. This section is responsible for personnel functions and employee services. Personnel functions cover tracking FEMA staff and disaster reservist deployment, obtaining local hires, arranging billeting, and processing payroll.  Employee services include providing for ERT personnel health and safety, overseeing access to medical services, and ensuring security of personnel, facilities, and assets.
           

      13. Emergency Support Team

      14. The EST is the interagency group that provides general coordination support to the ROC staff, ERT-A, and ERT response activities in the field.  Operating from the FEMA Emergency Information and Coordination Center (EICC) in Washington, DC, the EST is responsible for coordinating and tracking the deployment of Initial Response Resources, DFO kits, Disaster Information Systems Clearinghouse (DISC) packages, and other responder support items to the field.  The EST serves as the central source of information at the headquarters level regarding the status of ongoing and planned Federal disaster operations.  The EST attempts to resolve policy issues and resource support conflicts forwarded from the ERT.  Conflicts that cannot be resolved by the EST are referred to the CDRG.  The EST also provides overall resource coordination for concurrent multi-State disaster response activities.  ESF primary agencies send staff to the EST or opt to coordinate response support activities from their own agency EOCs.  The EST organizational structure is shown in Figure 8.  It parallels the ERT organization, but is not identical.
         

      15. Catastrophic Disaster Response Group

      16. The CDRG, composed of representatives from all FRP signatory departments and agencies, operates at the national level to provide guidance and policy direction on response coordination and operational issues arising from the FCO and ESF response activities.  CDRG members are authorized to speak for their agencies at the national policy level.  During a disaster the CDRG convenes as necessary, normally at FEMA Headquarters; the EST provides any needed support.
         

      17. Disaster Recovery Center

      18. A Disaster Recovery Center (DRC) is a centralized location where individuals affected by a disaster can go to obtain information on disaster recovery assistance programs from various Federal, State, and local agencies as well as voluntary organizations.  Trained staff also is on hand to provide counseling and advice.  It is generally expected that individuals visit the DRC after they have called the teleregistration center to apply for assistance, as applications usually will not be taken at the DRC.  However, a DRC may serve as a workshop site for assisting families and businesses to complete Small Business Administration disaster loan application forms.  A center dealing only with mitigation in reconstruction and rebuilding techniques may be called a Reconstruction Information Center (RIC).  A RIC may be set up at a fixed or mobile location.
         

      19. Other Teams/Facilities/Capabilities

      20.  
        1. Additional specialized teams are ready for deployment to support disaster operations, including damage assessment teams, Disaster Medical Assistance Teams, Donations Coordination Teams, Urban Search and Rescue (US&R) task forces, US&R Incident Support Teams, and mitigation assessment teams.

        2.  
        3. Additional facilities support organizational deployment, including assembly points, mobilization centers, staging areas, points of departure, and points of arrival.

        4.  
        5. Various other coordinating mechanisms, management tools, and information systems contribute to the overall Federal disaster operations system, including:

        6.  
          1. Time-Phased Force and Deployment List (TPFDL).  A tool to manage the rapid, systematic movement of Federal response personnel, equipment, and critical relief supplies into an affected area in accordance with operational priorities;

          2.  
          3. Movement Coordination Center (MCC).  An element under ESF #1 that is located at FEMA Headquarters and, if necessary, in the field to coordinate the acquisition of transportation capacity and maintain visibility over validated transportation requests for assistance from inception through delivery to a mobilization center; and

          4.  
          5. Rapid Response Information System (RRIS).  A system of databases and links to Internet sites providing information to Federal, State, and local emergency officials on Federal capabilities to render assistance to manage the consequences of a terrorist attack using weapons of mass destruction.  This information is directly available to designated officials in each State, the FEMA regions, and key Federal agencies via a protected Intranet site.  Local officials have access to the abbreviated Internet site and indirectly to the Intranet site through their State counterparts.  Additional information is available to the emergency response community on characteristics of weapons of mass destruction and appropriate safety measures; availability of excess or surplus Federal equipment; access to chemical, biological, and nuclear helplines and hotlines; training courses; and a reference library.

          6.  
        7. Many of these additional teams, facilities, and capabilities are discussed in the FRP annexes or are defined further in Appendix A.
Updated: June 3, 1999
FOOTER: FEDERAL EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY