Meeting Minutes: October 11, 2007
Regional Advisory Council DHS/FEMA Region VIII, Denver CO
Doug Gore convened the second meeting of the Regional Advisory Council for Region VIII on October 11, 2007, via teleconference at (800) 320-4330, PIN 744918. The Council meeting began at 2 p.m. and ended at 2:45 p.m. EDT. Doug Gore, Hans Kallam, and Dr. Greg Burcham participated in the call from a conference room at Colorado DEM offices.
Current Council Members
Doug Gore - Acting Regional Administrator, DHS/FEMA Region VIII
Neil Ashdown * - UT Governor's Chief of Staff
Chris Burbank - Chief, Salt Lake City UT Police Department
Dr. Greg Burcham 1 - Denver emergency physician, Colorado US&R Task Force
Bruce Hoover 1 - Chief, Fargo ND Fire Department
Hans Kallam 1 - Director, CO Div. of Emergency Management
Richard Klouda 1 * - Coordinator, Fremont County WY Emergency Management
Keith Squires 1 - Director, UT Div. of Homeland Security
Dan McGowan - Administrator, MT Disaster & Emergency Services
Joe Moore - Director, WY Office of Homeland Security
Pete Red Tomahawk - Transportation Director, Standing Rock Sioux Tribe (ND/SD)
Kristi Turman * - Director, SD Office of Emergency Management
Stephanie Villafuerte 2 * CO Governor's Deputy Chief of Staff
Greg Wilz - Director, ND Dept. of Emergency Services
* Members not present for the Council teleconference due to scheduling conflicts or leave.
1 New members appointed to the Council after its initial meeting on 6/12/07.
2 Ms. Villafuerte is unable to continue serving on the Council, and recommended a replacement.
Other Meeting Attendees
David Holm, senior advisor and CSEPP program manager, Colorado DEM
Jeff Graviet, Deputy Director, UT Div. of Homeland Security
Donovan Puffer, DHS/FEMA Region VIII, designated support officer for the Council
Handouts Distributed in Advance of Meeting
Powerpoint summary of "New FEMA Initiatives"
Powerpoint presentation on "The National Response Framework"
At 2 p.m., Doug Gore called the meeting to order and thanked the attendees for participating in the Regional Advisory Council. After acknowledging Bob Flowers' departure from DHS/FEMA at the end of August, Doug Gore said he thought it was important to reconvene the RVIII Council as soon as possible to share information and maintain momentum - thus the teleconference meeting, rather than a meeting in person. Doug Gore reiterated the importance of the Region VIII Council as a source of feedback and advice to him while he serves as the acting Regional Administrator, and he asked for recommendations on the date and location of the next RVIII Council meeting.
Recommended Future Discussion Topics. In an email sent to members prior to the meeting, Doug Gore invited each member to recommend any topics they believe the RVIII Council should address in future meetings. Their recommendations are summarized as follows:
Colorado: David Holm, an observer at the meeting by invitation of Hans Kallam, recommended FEMA take a critical look at the criteria used in assessing whether to grant a disaster declaration for a snowfall event. Colorado's recent experiences with snowstorms and declaration requests pointed toward a need to review and modify the declaration criteria, the "performance periods," the exclusive reliance on NOAA snowfall gauges in determining record snowfall levels, and the criteria for extraordinary events. David Holm departed the teleconference shortly afterward.
Hans Kallam recommended the Council and FEMA Region VIII discuss the proliferation of Federal requirements and their resulting impact on State-level resources. He observed the Federal government is drawing down State personnel resources or staff time to implement many of its homeland security initiatives (e.g., NIMS, NRF, preparedness grants), which doesn't leave much room for work the State wants to initiate. This issue causes a serious drain on State emergency management resources and presents a challenge for State directors.
Dr. Greg Burcham said he would like the other representatives on the Council to keep in mind the capabilities of the National Urban Search and Rescue (US&R) Response System, in which he serves as a physician on Colorado's US&R task force. Dr. Burcham commented "We want to be more engaged." He believes US&R personnel could be a resource for planning, drills, exercises and other events, not just real-world incidents. He commented that it's not necessary to utilize an entire US&R task force - smaller components or even individual members of the task force can be used.
Montana: Dan McGowan again expressed interest in an intra-Region mutual aid initiative, wherein Region VIII States would have agreements in place to provide pre-identified resources to an affected State within the Region. (Dan McGowan and Brian Garrett of UT made this recommendation at a post-Katrina after-action review held in Region VIII in 2006.) For example, if Montana were affected by a major disaster, one of their pre-identified needs would be a second shift of personnel to staff their Emergency Coordination Center for 24/7 operations. Under a mutual aid agreement that could be negotiated in advance with another Region VIII State, the assisting State would activate and deploy a second-shift ECC team to Helena.
Hans Kallam asked a question, seeking clarification about what kinds of mutual aid would be provided (pre-scripted mission assignments and EMAC-type mutual aid?) and what type of event (Wasatch Front earthquake type of large-scale disaster?). Dan McGowan and Doug Gore answered the question by saying his examples were exactly right, and suggesting this type of intra-Regional mutual aid would be invoked prior to requesting EMAC assistance from other States outside Region VIII.
Dan McGowan also wanted to thank Region VIII and Pete Bakersky for recent support to his State's international relations efforts with their "sister state" of Kyrgyzstan. Pete Bakersky arranged for Kyrgyz officials to meet with Utah US&R task force members during a recent exchange visit.
Standing Rock Sioux: Pete Red Tomahawk commented on the success of the Tribal Relations cadre of reservists developed and employed by Region VIII. He recommends the RVIII Council discuss how we can collaborate to be even more effective in this area. He recommends we look at training emergency managers in Tribal Relations issues, to build on our success. He also recommends that Tribal Relations cadre members can be deployed to assist tribes affected by an incident even before other emergency teams arrive on-site. Dan McGowan commented that he had recently give a proposal on this subject to FEMA Administrator David Paulison; Doug Gore asked if he could get a copy of the proposal.
North Dakota: Greg Wilz posed the question, "In the New FEMA, what do you think about the idea of having a FEMA liaison stationed fulltime in each State?" Doug Gore responded in support of the idea; commented on where ideally such a liaison would be stationed; and briefly summarized FEMA's use of reservists and State Support Teams currently to fill this liaison role.
Utah: Jeff Graviet and Keith Squires recommended the Council discuss whether and how FEMA Region VIII can assist in homeland security grants, particularly for States that have smaller populations and fewer critical infrastructure assets, like Utah. Jeff Graviet asked whether the Region has a role in determining grant award criteria, and said he is particularly concerned about the low amount of base funding (minimum grant award currently given to 18 States under the current award criteria). Doug Gore responded by summarizing the ongoing transition of DHS Preparedness functions and grants into FEMA, and said he is open to feedback and insights from the RVIII Council members on this subject.
Doug Gore concluded this part of the discussion by thanking Council members for their recommended topics, and by asking them to contact him with suggestions for improving the upcoming RISC meeting on November 6-7: Any comments about what we can include on the agenda, or the kind of focus you'd like to see to make the RISC meetings more useful to you?
New FEMA Initiatives. Referring to a Powerpoint presentation distributed in advance of the meeting, Doug Gore summarized some of the major projects and efforts launched by FEMA to implement Chief Paulison's "Vision for a New FEMA." He specifically described the Regional Advisory Councils; the new position of Rural Advocate; and planning efforts related to companion animal care in evacuations.
National Response Framework Review & Comment. With a Powerpoint presentation given to Council members in advance, Doug Gore summarized the ongoing review & comment period for the draft National Response Framework (NRF). The draft NRF was released nationwide on 9/10/07 for 30-day review and comment, and recently FEMA has extended the comment period by an additional 30 days - to 11/10/07. He summarized the basic concepts of the NRF, and encouraged Council members and the constituencies they represent to take advantage of the opportunity to participate in the review.
Nominations for RVIII Council Vice Chair. The Council charter allows for filling a position of Vice Chair. Doug Gore asked any members who were interested in this position, or in nominating another member for this position, to speak up or contact him afterward. (No nominations were made during the teleconference.)
Before the teleconference adjourned, Hans Kallam commented that he is a newly appointed State director, but he is supportive of recent efforts he has seen by FEMA Region VIII to do outreach and provide customer service to its States. He also commented in favor of the idea of FEMA liaison officers, and offered the recent examples of State Support Teams and liaison officers being employed early during incidents in Colorado.
Doug Gore thanked Council members for participating, and adjourned the meeting at 2:45 p.m. EDT.