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Responder News: CUSEC, NISC and NEMA Partnerships Gain Traction

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Responder News: CUSEC, NISC and NEMA Partnerships Gain Traction

Release Date: 
March 20, 2015

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) has developed a strategic partnership with the Central U.S. Earthquake Consortium (CUSEC), National Information Sharing Consortium (NISC) and National Emergency Management Association (NEMA) to field test and deploy emerging information exchange tools and mutual aid models for situational awareness and decision support.

CUSEC was formed in 1983 through funding support from DHS’ Federal Emergency Management Agency. CUSEC’s primary mission is the reduction of deaths, injuries, property damage, and economic losses resulting from earthquakes in the Central United States. The CUSEC CAPSTONE-14 Exercise was designed to support the 2011 Presidential Policy Directive 8 for National Preparedness.

The effort, driven by the CUSEC board of directors, was a New Madrid Seismic Zone (NMSZ) and Wabash Fault earthquake mitigation, preparedness, recovery, and response-planning event. It included the eight CUSEC member states: Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, and Tennessee, the federal government and is led by a board of directors formed by the heads of the emergency management agencies of the eight member states. CUSEC serves as a coordinating hub for the region, synchronizing multi-state efforts.

CAPSTONE-14 was a perfect example of this mission. CAPSTONE-14 was a three-year, multistate scope of planning and preparedness activities culminating in a major, multi-state earthquake exercise in June 2014. The progress made through CAPSTONE-14 will enhance the mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery capabilities to this potentially devastating threat. At the same time, the lessons learned and best practices outlined in this report are also applicable for all hazards across the U.S., especially complex, large-scale disasters.

The CAPSTONE-14 exercise follows the 2011 National Level Exercise (NLE 2011) by focusing on interstate mutual aid, expanding upon the definition and agreement to share Essential Elements of Information (EEIs), and enhancing situational awareness by leveraging existing and emerging technologies that enable information sharing.

The preparation for the exercise began in late 2012 and culminated with an exercise on June 16-20, 2014. DHS S&T partnered with the CUSEC states and the NISC to develop EEIs and Mission Ready Package (MRP) data exchange models that are now being shared with members of the National Emergency Management Association.

The NISC has also produced EEI publication guidance and has made available downloadable EEI templates for emergency managers to use in their native operational environments. This guidance is available on http://www.nisconsortium.org/portal/resources. The partnership between DHS S&T, CUSEC, NEMA and NISC is a familiar one. The agencies also worked together to develop mutual aid tools that would improve the ability for responders to request and acquire mutual aid. A capability developed in Kentucky was scaled for use by all CUSEC states and has now been transitioned to NEMA for the entire Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC) community to use.

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