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This chapter will discuss the issue of disaster response by local, state, regional, municipal, and tribal authorities. Additionally, the issue of federal participation and the factors associated with an integrated and interoperable response process will be reviewed and federal response activities outlined. The management and mitigation of disaster response activities are multifaceted with significant negative consequences if not managed correctly. The federal assets available for local response and mitigation are significant and available for those that are aware of the full depth of resources.17 The federal assets are not only limited to logistical support but also include human resources that are significant in their expertise and organizational skills. Knowledge of the Federal Response Plan and associated legal statutes allow for informed emergency management planning and modifying the incident impact.


  • Discuss, and review issues associated with interoperability.

  • Review the Federal Response Plan.

  • Review the Department of Defense (DoD) assets in disaster mitigation.

  • Discuss National Disaster Medical System (NDMS)/Disaster Medical Assistance Team (DMAT) medical operations and structure.


Interoperability is the process by which information, communication, and data systems are designed to easily and consistently connect/interface with each other independent of the manufacturer, management system, or operating platform. This would apply to federal, municipal, state, tribal routine and/or disaster operations with respect to incident communication, mitigation, and response. One example of successful interoperability can be found in casual Internet computer access. This task is carried out countless of times per day independent of the computer manufacturer, platform, or even operating system, yet we accept the impossibility of this when it comes to medical information sharing.

Applied to disaster and EMS operations, interoperability is the ability of simultaneous responders and/or agencies to be able to freely communicate and/or share data on a real-time basis. Unfortunately, prehospital health information (clinical, demographic, incident data) is not routinely managed in an interoperable platform. In this case information sharing between different emergency response agencies and/or federal partners at a disaster scene is at best a cumbersome process (and we accept this as a given fact). In the ideal world, the ability to integrate differing systems and organizations to seamlessly interface and operate efficiently and effectively with one another should be the norm.8 This would allow all (local, civilian, federal, NGOs [nongovernmental organization] and military) end users to effectively perform disaster activities and enable end users to perform disaster operations as an integrated coordinated operation. This would allow for greater situational awareness and avoid duplication of services (ie, building searches).

Presently there are no existing national (or even regional) interoperability standards or guidelines for EMS systems or federal resources but concepts are in various stages of development and have been repeatedly identified as an issue (seen in Katrina and 9/11). Interoperability is defined by the Oxford Dictionary of ...

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