The participants in the Canada U.S. Enhanced Resiliency Experiment (CAUSE) series are engaged in a cross-border planning effort that will help prioritize aid between Lambton County in Ontario, Canada and St. Clair County in Michigan. CAUSE IV will also serve as the first international testbed for the Science and Technology Directorate’s First Responders Group (FRG) and Defence Research and Development Canada's Centre for Security Science (DRDC CSS) to evaluate how a recently developed resource planning web application known as the “Mutual Aid Resource Planning app” can assist local communities’ ability to jointly plan for and respond to cross-border emergencies.
The CAUSE IV scenario, focused around a severe weather/tornado event, will assess how well the resource allocation plan prepares emergency managers for the requirements identified during the experiment scenario. FRG’s Mutual Aid Planner app will enable emergency planners taking part in the CAUSE experiment to develop cross-border, capabilities-based, resource allocation plans relative to known hazards in that area. The app leverages a commonly used data model referenced in the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Threat and Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment (THIRA) documentation, which defines core capabilities and resource needs and requirements relative to hazards. The FRG tool specifically enables communities to develop capabilities-based plans, define resource needs and identify and select resource partners to fill the anticipated resource needs.
CAUSE IV will also test the mutual aid request and acquisition process in a binational context, evaluating the existing policies that govern cross-border mutual aid and identifying current policy gaps. Mutual aid starts at the local level, and as resources are depleted, transitions through higher-grade levels of requests for assistance at the state/provincial level. By pre-identifying Mission Ready Packages through the planning process, the goal is to create a more efficient and resilient system.
Since 2012, FRG has facilitated research and development in efforts to improve mutual aid systems. The Mutual Aid Project recently concluded, and project performers provided critical information and feedback. Those lessons learned will be incorporated into the mutual aid data model, a web application template that will continue to be refined and developed into an initial operating capability.
“As incidents do not respect geographic boundaries and communities do not have sufficient resources to handle large events, prompt mutual aid is critical to maintain the operations of our two border communities. Ideally, the CAUSE IV experiment will demonstrate the need and ability to enact this mutual aid and will become an integral part of an International Planning Zone,” said Jeff Friedland, the director of Emergency Management with St. Clair County Office of Homeland Security/Emergency Management.
Further testing and evaluation of the Mutual Aid Planner app is required through future CAUSE experiments. FRG will continue to coordinate with FEMA and other key stakeholders to identify further opportunities for experimentation.