DENVER – The State of Wyoming Office of Homeland Security recently welcomed the first member of its Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Integration Team (FIT). FITs enhance intergovernmental coordination by co-locating FEMA personnel with their state counterparts.
The Wyoming FIT will allow the state’s emergency management services to have an in-house communication channel with FEMA Region VIII in Denver.
"We are excited to explore this opportunity for partnership with FEMA. The rural nature of Wyoming's communities creates challenges that are not seen in other states," Lynn Budd, Director of the Wyoming Office of Homeland Security said. "Having a FEMA team embedded within our agency helps FEMA understand our unique challenges and will assist us in serving Wyoming communities."
The FIT program is an initiative FEMA started last year, the first national effort to have staff permanently co-located and working with state partner agencies. Individual states work directly with FEMA to ensure each team is constructed to meet the state’s needs.
“Our state partners know that we are always just a phone call away, but with the implementation of the FIT program, they now have FEMA down the hall so-to-speak,” said Lee K. dePalo, Regional Administrator for FEMA Region VIII. “The ability to have face-to-face conversations with a FEMA representative who understands Wyoming’s unique needs will build more resilient communities and ensure more effective operations before, during, and after an incident.”
Wyoming’s first FIT member and team lead is Steve Ammons. Ammons worked in various leadership and management roles during his 23-year Air Force career. He was responsible for emergency planning at Andrews Air Force Base, the home of Air Force One. He also flew rescue operations in the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and deployed multiple times in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom.
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FEMA's mission is helping people before, during, and after disasters.