MEETING MINUTES: April 1, 2010
Regional Advisory Council, Regional Advisory Council
The sixth meeting of the Regional Advisory Council (RAC) for Region VIII occurred on April 1, 2010, at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds Exhibit Hall in Golden, CO. Having a quorum of 11 members present, the Council meeting began at 8:30 a.m. Mountain Time and ended at 11:45 a.m. Donovan Puffer facilitated the meeting, due to acting RA Doug Gore’s absence.
Participating Council Members
Del Brewer - Tribal Representative, Oglala Sioux Tribe
Chris Burbank - Chief of Police, Salt Lake City UT Police Department
Dr. Greg Burcham - Denver emergency physician, Colorado US&R Task Force
Dwight Henninger - Chief of Police, Vail CO Police Department
Jeff Jahnke - Director/State Forester, CO State Forest Service
Hans Kallam - Director, CO Division of Emergency Management
Ken Mesch - Administrator, MT Disaster & Emergency Services
Mark Peck - Emergency Manager, Flathead County, MT
Pete Red Tomahawk - Tribal Representative, Standing Rock Sioux Tribe
Col. Keith Squires - Deputy Commissioner, UT Department of Public Safety
Greg Wilz - Director, ND Division of Homeland Security
Other Attendees or Observers
Donovan Puffer, DHS/FEMA Region VIII; designated support officer for the Council
Council Members Not Present
Doug Gore - Acting Regional Administrator, FEMA Region VIII (Chair)
Bruce Hoover - Chief, Fargo ND Fire Department
Dan McGowan - HS Grant Finance Coordinator, MT Dept. of Military Affairs
Joe Moore - Director, WY Office of Homeland Security
Kristi Turman - Director, SD Office of Emergency Management
Handouts Distributed to RAC Members in Advance of or During Meeting
- RAC and RISC meeting agendas
- Updated contact list, Regional Advisory Council
- RAC Recommendations for 2009 (from 2008 Annual Report)
- Resume of James Kramer, potential nominee for RAC
- Overview briefing, National Disaster Recovery Framework
Introductions and Opening Comments.
After coffee and informal conversation, Donovan Puffer welcomed the RAC members and thanked them for coming to Denver for the meeting. Mr. Puffer said the acting RA, Doug Gore, sent his regrets that he was unable to attend the RAC meeting due to a previous family commitment. After self-introductions, Mr. Puffer welcomed new RAC members Ken Mesch and Mark Peck to their first meeting, and welcomed back RAC members who recently were reappointed to a second term: Chris Burbank, Greg Burcham, and Pete Red Tomahawk. For the benefit of new RAC members, Mr. Puffer briefly summarized the origins and purpose of the RAC, and also discussed the status of the RAC for 2010.
What Would the RAC Want a New RA to Know?
Mr. Puffer said the Region has received no news on the appointment of a new Regional Administrator, but one could be appointed any time now. In the interim, Mr. Puffer asked the RAC members to give some thought to what they’d like a new RA to know. He said a tab in the new RA’s transition binder was reserved for “Region VIII Advisory Groups,” and he would be happy to include any material the RAC wished to add. Council members recommended the RAC convene a brief meeting (half day) in person, as soon as possible after the new RA is on board. They agreed it was better to meet the new RA in person, rather than via teleconference, and they proposed to present any information to the new RA at their first meeting. Pete Red Tomahawk and Del Brewer offered comments on the importance of tribal consultation, particularly in light of the DHS Secretary’s and FEMA Administrator’s recent emphasis and efforts in this area, including development of a DHS tribal consultation plan and appointment of a fulltime DHS tribal affairs coordinator. Mr. Red Tomahawk and Mr. Brewer would like to address these topics with the new RA shortly after his/her appointment.
Review RAC Recommendations for 2009, Update for 2010.
RAC members had advance copies of the eight recommendations the RAC made to Region VIII for 2009, and Mr. Puffer summarized how those recommendations, forwarded by the RAC to the RISC Executive Committee and included in the Region’s Annual Report, had driven specific actions in six of the eight areas during 2009. With last year’s RAC/RISC interaction as a model, he asked the RAC members to discuss and agree upon recommendations to guide the Region’s efforts in 2010.
In their discussions on this topic, RAC members agreed it made sense to start with the assumption that the existing eight recommendations were still valid and useful for 2010. Their proposed approach is to review these existing recommendations, make revisions as required, and consider whether any new recommendations for 2010 are needed, rather than start from scratch or offer a completely new set of recommendations. They would like to arrange a half-day meeting with the new Regional Administrator shortly after his/her appointment, and present their recommendations in person.
Hans Kallam offered comments on the benefits of integrating the various initiatives and projects that DHS, FEMA and Region VIII have underway. He made the point that there is a wide range of national initiatives like the Nationwide Planning Review, the National Preparedness Task Force, etc., as well as a number of regional initiatives like the Utah earthquake planning effort, the Type III IMT project, etc., and it would be beneficial to recommend we look for ways to synchronize those efforts that need integrating, as well as identify those initiatives that do not need to be integrated.
Keith Squires commented on the potential of adding a recommendation relevant to mitigation, perhaps focusing on the benefits of establishing a risk assessment capability that would be standardized, easily accessible, and useful to all users within the Region. He and other members talked about the use of risk assessment data as a driver for decision making and planning.
Mr. Puffer agreed to draft recommendations on both topics (project integration & risk assessment) and email them to the RAC members for consideration.
Hans Kallam talked about the benefits of a scorecard that would track the status of RAC recommendations and subsequent follow-up actions, so that the Region and the RAC would have a clearer understanding of what was being done, by whom, and what the expected results would be. Mr. Kallam used the example of last year’s H1N1 preparedness efforts to illustrate the need to follow up with lessons learned and to confirm any changes made in response to after-action reports and lessons learned, so that future preparedness efforts would incorporate the best practices and avoid the pitfalls of prior efforts.
Mr. Kallam’s comments led to a larger discussion of the purposes of the RAC and RISC, and how these organizations should complement each other and fit into a larger picture. Greg Wilz drew a diagram on the whiteboard, describing how he understood the RAC’s recommendations are intended to provide strategic direction to Region VIII, which would be reflected in the Region’s strategic plan, goals, objectives, and operations. He understood the RISC to be representative of the group of stakeholders involved in implementing those goals, objectives, and operational activities. Mr. Kallam’s recommendation regarding tracking/reporting would add a feedback loop to the process, as shown below:
The RAC members agreed it would be useful to formalize the responsibilities and relationships of the RAC, RISC, and Regional Office for clarity, and to put it in writing. They also discussed the usefulness of having a process for inputting and tracking the goals, objectives and actions that the Region is pursuing, particularly those that result from or are relevant to RAC recommendations. The RAC members also discussed the need for written protocols covering their processes for voting, nominating new members, and the possible use of proxies when a RAC member cannot be present for a meeting. Mr. Puffer summarized some of the other RAC best practices he was aware of as a result of talking with RAC coordinators from other FEMA Regions. He offered to the RAC members that he would obtain samples of written bylaws, policies or other guidance produced by other RACs, and share copies with the Region VIII RAC as a basis for deciding whether to adopt or adapt some of these guidelines for their use. Mr. Puffer also volunteered to work with the Region VIII RAC and Region VIII National Preparedness Division to draft a Region VIII policy describing the roles, relationships and responsibilities of the RAC, RISC, and RECCWG.
Consideration of New RAC Member.
The members were provided copies of a resume from James Kramer, coroner for Pueblo County, Colorado. Mr. Kramer had contacted the national-level NAC support officer Breese Eddy about joining the NAC, and Ms. Eddy referred Mr. Kramer to Region VIII. Mr. Kramer wished to be considered for RAC membership. RAC members discussed Mr. Kramer’s background, which included considerable experience as a member of a Disaster Mortuary Assistance Team (DMORT). The members decided to table Mr. Kramer’s nomination, and agreed to seek additional nominees in their jurisdictions who could represent the public health discipline. [Following the RAC meeting, Donovan Puffer informed Mr. Kramer of the RAC’s decision, and introduced him to the Region VIII lead planners on the Utah catastrophic earthquake planning effort, with the goal of adding Mr. Kramer and his experience in mass casualty operations to the planning effort.]
Nominations for RAC Vice Chair.
. Mr. Puffer summarized for the RAC the background and need for appointment of a RAC Vice Chair, as called for in their charter. He reviewed with the RAC members how other Regions’ RACs have handled this issue. The members had a discussion on the merits of the various options, and agreed to the following approach:
- Members nominate via email a RAC Vice Chair and Alternate;
- RAC Chair makes the actual selections, based on the RAC’s recommendations;
- RAC Vice Chair and Alternate should serve a one-year term;
- It would be beneficial if a rotation were established, so the Vice Chair and Alternate would be representative of the range of jurisdictions (State, tribal, local) that constitute the RAC.
National Advisory Council (NAC) Status and Feedback
The RAC members had a discussion about the ongoing work of their national-level counterpart, the NAC. Mr. Puffer agreed to provide the RAC members with more information regarding the NAC’s composition, members, meeting minutes, and initiatives.
National Preparedness Task Force
Hans Kallam and Dwight Henninger have been appointed as members of FEMA’s National Preparedness Task Force. They encouraged other RAC members to contact them if they’d like to offer recommendations for topics that the Task Force should take up, or if they’d like to stay informed of its progress.
Institutionalizing Emergency Management Among Tribes in Region VIII
Del Brewer, Pete Red Tomahawk, and Greg Wilz initiated a discussion about the need to promote and institutionalize emergency management capabilities in the tribes. Among the points made by RAC members during the discussion: Tribes need a viable, capable emergency management program and staff, fully as capable as any other jurisdiction of similar size and population. But at present, tribal EM capabilities vary widely – some are staffed and functioning well, while others are not and are falling further behind. Mr. Wilz proposed the RAC talk about formulating a recommendation for 2010 along these lines, and look for specific ways that knowledge & capabilities in emergency management can be sustained and increased within and across the tribes. Mr. Red Tomahawk and Mr. Brewer agreed, and also reiterated the desire to talk with Region VIII senior management about how to use recent tribal consultation progress at the DHS and FEMA HQ levels as a catalyst for similar efforts at the Region VIII level.
Mr. Puffer thanked the Council members for participating, and the meeting adjourned at 11:45 a.m.