DENVER – Montana recently welcomed the first member of its own FEMA Integration Team (FIT). FITs allow FEMA staff to be directly embedded with state emergency management agencies to provide improved coordination and collaboration. In Montana, the FIT will help Montana Disaster and Emergency Services (DES) stay closely connected with FEMA Region VIII in Denver, Colorado.
The first Montana FIT member is Adrianne Michele, who is the team lead. An Air Force veteran, Michele has a Master’s Degree in Emergency Management and a passion for disaster planning and response. In addition to three deployments in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, she worked for several years integrating planning efforts between United States Northern Command (USNORTHCOM) and other federal agencies. She also has education and experience as a news photographer and editor.
The makeup of each FIT team is determined through discussions between FEMA and individual states, and varies according to local needs. The Montana team, which is expected to be in place by late summer, will include specialists in preparedness, recovery and emergency communications.
“We were able to identify these areas as being especially helpful for Montana,” said Delila Bruno, Director of Montana Disaster and Emergency Services. “Having FIT members here with their boots on the ground will increase our capacity to help Montanans not only prepare for disasters, but recover when they happen, making our partnership with FEMA even stronger.”
The FIT program is an initiative FEMA started last year, the first effort to have staff permanently
co-located working with state partner agencies. The Montana team lead is now in place and is the first of what will eventually be a four-member team working in Helena alongside Montana DES staff.
“By putting skilled, knowledgeable personnel with our partners in Montana, we can help build a culture of preparedness and support Montana emergency management before, during, and after disasters,” said Lee K. dePalo, Regional Administrator for FEMA Region VIII. “The FEMA Integration Team helps FEMA and Montana DES to plan, train, and respond to incidents together.”
FEMA Integration Teams are currently in the second stage of rollout and Montana is the 19th state to receive a FIT. The program will be fully implemented to states by 2020.