By Jacqueline Sue Aguigui Chandler, FEMA Region VI
For the first time in FEMA’s history, an Incident Management Assistance Team has performed several key operational tasks in a single non-disaster forward deployment. Those tasks included the orientation of new FEMA Region VI IMAT 1 members, team training as one cohesive unit, an Operational Readiness Evaluation performed by FEMA headquarters, and support to the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI and the state of Louisiana for Super Bowl XLVII held on Feb. 3, 2013.
The IMAT 1 crew of four core members and additional Region VI and Mobile Emergency Response Support program specialists deployed to Baton Rouge, Louisiana from Jan. 30 – Feb. 4, 2013 to participate in the multi-faceted event. In the end, each element of the deployment was rated successful by regional and IMAT 1 leaders, and HQ evaluators for the ORE portion.
“Having this caliber of IMAT program experts on the team every year is what has contributed to this unit being one of the most successful and effective in the nation,” said IMAT 1 Team Lead Joe Bearden. “By combining all of the tasks required of this outstanding team, we made great use of time and personnel during this deployment.”
In addition to training the IMAT members, several employees from the Baton Rouge Processing Center also participated in the orientation and training sessions. The region continues to support a Louisiana Recovery Office in New Orleans, and a Processing Center and Joint Field Office in the capital city. “It made sense to include local personnel who support IMAT 1 during response activities,” added Bearden.
Headquarters evaluators came down early to Baton Rouge for the ORE to capture best practices for other IMATs and to observe the orientation and training sessions. IMAT 1 also set up an Interim Operating Facility as part of the readiness check where the use of communications equipment was tested and rated.
These advance activities led up to IMAT 1’s support of the Super Bowl which was held at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans on Sunday, Feb. 3. That support involved IMAT 1 being fully activated at the Baton Rouge-based IOF, an IMAT liaison embedded at the FBI Joint Operations Center in New Orleans, and detailed communications between IMAT 1 planning and operations staff and the R6 Regional Response Coordination Center in Denton, Texas before, during and after the game.
Super Bowl XLVII was rated a Special Event Assessment Rating Priority 1 by the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security due to its size, significance, location, and expected attendance and media coverage. The region and the IMAT 1 were activated in anticipation of any requests for federal assistance from DHS, FBI or the state of Louisiana as a result of activities related to the annual event.