In September 2020, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) conducted a preparedness grants effectiveness virtual case study with members of the Jersey City–Newark, New Jersey Urban Areas Security Initiative (UASI; Jersey City–Newark). The purpose of the study was to understand the role of FEMA preparedness grants on the region’s COVID-19 pandemic response. FEMA also drew from information that community officials provided for the Biannual Strategy Implementation Report and the Threat and Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment /Stakeholder Preparedness Review.
This case study found that Homeland Security Grant Program (HSGP)-funded projects have improved Jersey City–Newark’s capability to protect emergency responders, have allowed effective information sharing with the public and other stakeholders through investment in a regional fusion center, and have provided exercises and training that have improved Jersey City–Newark’s public health response.
More broadly, this case study found that HSGP funds have increased the level of coordination and have created strong working relationships among UASI members. This coordination has allowed working group members to better understand the capabilities and gaps of other member organizations. The structure of UASI has also facilitated easier collaboration due to the centralized procurement process and a commitment to pursuing collective goals throughout the member jurisdictions.
Participants in the case study identified long-term fatality management services as an ongoing challenge for the jurisdiction. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Jersey City–Newark was prepared for a surge in fatality management services necessitated by a single mass-casualty incident, and previous training and exercises focused on events such as an active shooter or a large-scale transportation accident. In response to the extended surge in fatality management services caused by the pandemic, Jersey City–Newark and the State of New Jersey have used a fatality management services approach coordinated at the state level compared to other jurisdictions that have used more local approaches.
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