- Unit Activation and Authority to Activate (248);
- When Does DSW (insurance) Coverage Begin (249)
- Investigation of potential involvement (249)
- How Many to Activate or Involve (250) and now:
Mutual aid is a term used in government operations and Incident Command System to describe needed resources when a jurisdiction has depleted, or is nearing depletion, of its own resources. Mutual aid can be fire engines, law support, communicators, and other assets or needed resource in a disaster, emergency, or potential emergency.
This series is for communications mutual aid to, from, and for government units such as ACS, RACES, ARES, or clubs w/MOU as the RACES. This EXCLUDES resources for organizations and agencies that have a discipline specific system, such as USFS, CDF VIP, American Red Cross, Salvation Army, ARES "mutual assistance" for ARES operations.
Several states now have laws that directly affect Mutual Aid. An example was referenced in a 1993 article by Bill Ozment, W6LSW, titled, "The Essentials of Emergency Voice Communications":
"Mutual aid: In the case of the CDF VIP and RACES, you CANNOT go mutual aid to another agency without the specific direction of the AGENCY YOU REPRESENT! Without their specific knowledge and direction you will not be under their Workers Compensation protection should something happen to you." (Editor: it also applies to RECEIVING mutual aid from another unit. Since 1993 the protocol for mutual aid in California has changed.)
Following the 1991 devastating East Bay Hills Fire Storm, the CA Legislature created the Standardized Emergency Management System (SEMS). The purpose was to standardize the means of supplying and obtaining emergency resources (mutual aid) across a state with thousands of jurisdictions. Just one county can have several hundred jurisdictions. That one county, made up of all those agencies, cities, and districts is, in California, described as an "Operational Area" (OA). Within this setting SEMS improved the situation, even if elsewhere SEMS may seem too complex.
SEMS requires that State OES must activate an EOC when any OA activates its EOC. In order to do that OES set up three Region EOCs. Each responds to OA groups with common geographical or other aspects, i.e., 11 (Southern), 16 (Coastal), or 30 (Inland). The REOC provides primary mutual aid responsibility once an OA EOC is activated and the OA requests resource assistance.
The responsibility of a REOC is complex, for a SINGLE OA (San Bernardino, for example) may be larger and more diverse than five other STATES combined; that is, terrain, population, and area is such that REOC responsibility can equal an entire section of the country in some parts of the US.
The result is a standard process for mutual aid that applies to all resources, including ACS, RACES, and units with an MOU to serve as RACES.
For how that works, see next bulletin.