Louisiana emergency responders deployed for Dorian support efforts

Staff Writer
Gonzales Weekly Citizen

The Governor's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (GOHSEP) continues to coordinate support for states expected to be impacted by Hurricane Dorian. Following a new request from Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, Gov. John Bel Edwards has approved the deployment of more than 100 Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) personnel and assets, under the coordination of the State Fire Marshal's Office (SFM), to assist with Hurricane Dorian response.

The unit deploying consists of three 35-member teams each bringing a minimum of two boats and a 21-person Incident Support Team (IST), specializing in disaster deployment operations and logistics. The unit is made up of State Fire Marshal staff as well as firefighters from Monroe, Shreveport, Pineville, Lafayette, Baton Rouge, St. George, Houma, Lafourche Parish, New Orleans, Tangipahoa Parish, Kentwood, Natalbany, Hammond, St. John Parish, and Jefferson Parish. New Orleans EMS and several K-9 teams will also be part of the deployment.

Most of the teams left the SFM headquarters in Baton Rouge on Monday, headed for the Florida National Guard Base outside of Jacksonville.

"With Hurricane Dorian becoming the second strongest storm on record, it is no surprise our friends in Florida are taking all precautions necessary and making all preparations possible including calling on our USAR teams to help with potential aftermath," said State Fire Marshal Chief H. "Butch" Browning. "We are hopeful for the best, but ready to aid Florida with any needs they have as Dorian targets their coastline."

A ten-member Incident Support Team (IST), specializing in disaster deployment operations and logistics, departed Baton Rouge Sunday to offer their expertise in organizing and managing numerous search and rescue teams responding to multiple missions at once.

Seven ambulance teams with a total of 35 units and 80 personnel arrived in Florida Saturday as emergency officials there prepare for this dangerous system.

There is an established state-to-state assistance program used to coordinate support through GOHSEP. The Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC) offers assistance during governor-declared states of emergency or disaster through a responsive, straightforward system that allows states to send personnel, equipment, and commodities to assist with response and recovery efforts in other states. EMAC establishes a firm legal foundation for sharing resources between states.

Once the conditions for providing assistance to a requesting state have been set, the terms constitute a legally binding agreement. The EMAC legislation solves the problems of liability and responsibilities of cost and allows for credentials, licenses, and certifications to be honored across state lines.

Contributed by GOHSEP