Mike Sharon/FEMA Region III IMAT Lead: What we are simulating is a Category 3 hurricane that originated off the coast of Africa… Tom Fargione/FEMA Region II IMAT Lead: It’s a hurricane that is going to impact both of Region Two’s OCONUS areas of responsibility, the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. Mike Sharon: We need to get to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands in advance of the storm. Tom Fargione: We have twelve hours to get in place, any place we go. Mike Sharon: We need to deploy very quickly, with twelve hours from when we’re notified we need to be in the air and headed out. In the case of this exercise we are looking at a situation where we have to deploy to a location like Puerto Rico or the U.S. Virgin Islands and airport access might be limited and we would rely on military transportation to get us there because it would be the only thing that can support both our personnel and equipment. After we have mission assigned the Department of Defense for military airlift, they will then notify us exactly where we’re going to need to report with the team to meet our military transportation. For Region III, typically, we would normally fly out of Joint Base Dix-Mc Quire-Lakehurst and they would tell us when we needed to be here, what we need to bring and any constraints or limitations that we might need to know before we depart the regional office for our rallying point. Once the team is activated, regardless of the mode of transportation, we will assemble, a situation briefing will be provided to make sure that all of the team members are aware of the circumstances of the incident we are responding to. We will then conduct operational checks on our equipment because if we are on our way to a distant destination, say Puerto Rico or the U.S. Virgin Islands, we don’t want to get there and find out our computers, Blackberries or other systems don’t work. Tom Fargione: We are required to bring X amount of gear with us. What is the best way to configure that gear? What is the best way to provide it to them? What is the best packaging for that gear so that it can be quickly palletized? Tom Fargione: It is up to us to help the military help us so if we know, what in fact, what the requirements are, we practice those requirements, “A” They get used to handling our gear which is packaged somewhat differently than their own and “B” we know how to best configure that to best meet their expectations and requirements. TSgt. David Lund, Jr./621st Contingency Response Wing/USAF: I think it is important for the FEMA team to have a knowledge of how to prepare their equipment properly whether it be a palette or it be a vehicle because the airlift is inherently dangerous in the process. If the airplane could be out of balance it could have to divert because it could be using more fuel by not having the load balanced inside the airplane. It could have a catastrophic effect on the airplane if it was not balanced and marked properly. SSgt. Mark Strini/USAF: Make sure all the equipment you have is undamaged. Make sure if you have any flammables, any liquids like that, make sure stuff isn’t leaking because all that does, that slows up the process. Once you guys bring it to us or whoever is going to inspect your cargo, if you have, if everything is broke, all you are doing is keeping you guys from getting where you need to go. TSgt Keogh/USAF: What we are doing is we are inspecting, making sure we know what type of hazards each vehicle has that we are inspecting or each piece of cargo. It has to be certified on the shipper’s decks. So what we are doing is checking quantities of the hazards on the shipper’s deck to make sure it’s all certified. It is important because the load masters have to know what type of hazards is on their aircraft in case there is fire, in case there is jettison purposes. Tom Fargione: It is an added level of complexity in that typically if we are going to use the military to move us we are moving a lot of equipment with us. And there are a significant number of rules and regulations relative to the movement of that equipment. Mike Sharon: We then will proceed through a passenger manifesting process that’s not unlike actually getting on a commercial airliner in a facility like Fort Dix-McGuire Air Force Base. All of our names and social security numbers are included on a manifest. That is for personnel accountability. So they know exactly who is on the aircraft. We then check in at the passenger terminal and the check in not only includes checking our identification against the manifest but each individual is weighed so they know exactly what the passenger weight is and the weight of our carryon baggage. That is so they can properly balance the aircraft and make sure that the aircraft isn’t overloaded. Once we arrive at the airfield we are really under the control of the Air Force. They are going to tell us where to go, how they want the cargo loaded because it is their aircraft and we need to make sure that we are following their procedures and we need to make sure that everything is done safely. Mike Sharon: So after the manifesting process, we then move out and we load the aircraft. In most cases our equipment is already onboard the aircraft and we take our instructions from the Air Force load masters that are responsible for the safe operation of the airplane. They give us the standard pre-flight safety briefings again, not unlike a commercial airline briefing but it is specific to the special features of a military aircraft which are kind of different from a civilian airliner. They are making sure that we can travel safely, that we understand emergency instructions in the event something should happen on the aircraft. Sean Kilty/FEMA Region III IMAT 2 Team Lead: They are simulating as closely as this would be to an actual flight, an actual deployment, without leaving the ground that is possible so… wonderful. It is important that we work with the military whenever we can because often they are our best, if last, method so the more we practice with them the better we get with them, the more we understand their policies and procedures. Mike Sharon: We can’t do it alone at FEMA. We rely on our partners elsewhere in the federal government including the Department of Defense for their types of resources, to get us into the most difficult types of environments, to be there to support us, and work with us so that we can collectively go out there and help disaster survivors. FEMA is just one part of the team and this is an example of how DOD and others are members of the team as well.