The Atlantic hurricane season began June 1 and FEMA teams across the country are preparing to deploy. This includes FEMA’s new Supplemental Response Teams (SRT). These teams consist of established all-hazards incident management teams that are made up of state, local, tribal and territorial (SLTT) partners, as well as other federal agencies.
SRTs have a strong organizational structure that allow them to easily adapt to the specific needs of incidents. Last year, the first Supplemental Response Team, New Jersey-Supplemental Response Team-1 (NJ-SRT 1), successfully deployed to Puerto Rico to assist with the Hurricane Fiona response.
Thirteen personnel from the NJ-SRT 1 team deployed to the incident. The deployed team was comprised of personnel from the New Jersey Office of Emergency Management and included a team lead, a public information officer, three members from the planning section, three members from the operations section, four members from the logistics section and one finance specialist.
NJ-SRT 1 performed initial assessments of damage after Hurricane Fiona by completing several hundred miles of windshield assessments, a type of observation made from a vehicle; helping other FEMA teams on the ground with community outreach activities and shelter operations; and assisting in identifying, inspecting, building out and opening Disaster Recovery Centers.
New Jersey State Police Lt. Marc Pellegrino is the Team Lead for NJ-SRT-1, and describes how the deployment provided excellent experience for his team.
“I gained additional respect for the members of the NJ-All Hazard Incident Management Team and their ability to successfully respond in a truly ‘all-hazards’ environment,” said Pellegrino. Incident management teams that are part of the SRT program must be able to integrate into a FEMA response effectively and efficiently. This is a unique skillset and is one of the strengths of the NJ-All Hazard Incident Management Team.”
Pellegrino has been part of the New Jersey team since its inception in 2017 and helped to create the SRT, which started in 2015.
“I also gained additional perspective on the federal response, which will only help the team and SRT program moving forward,” Pellegrino said. “SRTs are helping communities recover from disasters, becoming force multipliers for FEMA operations. These are teams that are accustomed to managing and/or supporting complex incidents and events.
“These ‘do more with less’ situations force these teams to become very good at applying a process to solve an issue,” said Pellegrino. “With FEMA having access to teams that meet these criteria, it greatly increases the nation’s ability to respond to and recover from disasters.”
More Cooperation Ahead
FEMA SRT Program Chief Susan Hanke said the partnership between the New Jersey team and FEMA is valuable for survivors and for the other organizations involved.
“The SRT program is proud to have worked with the NJ–SRT-1. The cooperation between FEMA and our SLTT partners increases the capability and capacity of the emergency management enterprise,” said Hanke. “We cannot express how grateful we are to Lt. Pellegrino and his team for this successful inaugural deployment and look forward to the continued success of the program to help meet the needs of survivors.”
While FEMA develops, maintains and deploys many different partners with all-hazards capabilities, SRTs elevate these efforts by leveraging already established all-hazards incident management teams. Additionally, SRTs encourage further relationship building between FEMA and emergency management stakeholders. It is one of the many ways FEMA continually works to improve our disaster response efforts.
To learn more about the SRT program and teams that participate, email firstname.lastname@example.org.