Category Archives: Featured

2018 National Mass Care Exercise to be held in Arizona

The 2018 National Mass Care Exercise will be held May 21-24, 2018 in Phoenix, Arizona. The scenario involves a large evacuation to Arizona from California after a catastrophic earthquake.

The five strategic goals of the National Mass Care Strategy seek to move the nation in a direction that increases the capabilities and capacities of the Whole Community across the range and scale of disasters to which this country is vulnerable. One of the tasks in this Strategy was to conduct an annual national mass care system exercise that focuses on establishing state-to federal coordination systems and integrating staff from key NGOs, faith-based organizations, and the private sector into an effective mass care multi-agency coordination structure.

The National Mass Care Exercises commenced in Florida. Then additional states followed which include: Texas, Missouri, Utah, and now Arizona.  No two NMCE’s are the same, the scenarios vary, the objectives are based on what the state would like to test, and the players vary based on the FEMA Region and the focus of the exercise. The exercise provides an excellent opportunity to build relationships, provide needed Mass Care/Emergency Assistance training, and a chance to strengthen and develop task force criteria.

AAR’s on past exercises are available on the National Mass Care Strategy website.

National Mass Care Exercise 2017

National Mass Care Exercise 2017 Banner photo

The State of Utah hosted the 2017 “There’s No Place Like Home” National Mass Care Exercise from Aug. 22nd-24th, in Salt Lake City, UT.

The exercise built off of the Wasatch Earthquake Catastrophic plan with the focus of the exercise play on the coordination at the State EOC ESF#6 desk and the many mass care activity’s liaisons.  Field play was primarily coordinated by the Red Cross and included the setting up shelters, activating the multi-agency feeding task force, bulk distribution sites, and a potential non-resident evacuation embarkation site.   In addition, the customary task forces (MC Activity Groups) strategized on the topics of feeding, sheltering, bulk distribution and reunification.

Download exercise information flyer here.

American Red Cross releases new Reunification doctrine

American Red Cross Reunification doctrine

When a disaster occurs with large numbers of fatalities or injuries, individuals who are unaccounted for, damage to communication infrastructure and evacuations etc., a local jurisdiction can quickly become overwhelmed with requests from concerned loved ones. Prior to Hurricane Katrina, Reunification services was primarily a reactive activity, responding to high volumes of inquiries that often overwhelmed Red Cross phone lines and emergency services, spreading efforts thin. Since Katrina, the Safe and Well website has helped alleviate this burden by allowing reunification workers to concentrate resources on those who are most vulnerable during a disaster.

As a co-lead with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for the Mass Care component of the Emergency Support Function 6 (ESF6) in the National Response Framework, Red Cross has a commitment to provide Reunification services.  Additionally, the Red Cross Reunification services are incorporated into a variety of state and county emergency response plans, continuity of operations plans, and family communications plans that serve to ease the burden on emergency services during a disaster.

The Reunification Program principles are to improve the quality of service provided to clients who want to notify others that they are safe, seek others who are unaccounted for, reestablish contact when separated from family and deliver reunification services consistently across the country.

The following principles define the Reunification Program:

 Emergency welfare inquiries and family reunification requests receive highest priority;

 Follow-up always occurs with the emergency welfare inquiries and family reunification requests;

 Unaccompanied Minors and Separated Children are kept safe and provided with swift transfer or reunification through working with relevant partners;

 Client information is protected;

 Accurate information is provided;

 Services are provided fairly and consistently across the organization.





American Red Cross releases new shelter doctrine

The American Red Cross

Link to American Red Cross Shelter Forms

Red Cross provides congregate sheltering services to meet the immediate housing needs of individuals and communities directly impacted by disaster.  Few activities are more central to the core mission of the Red Cross than sheltering those impacted by disaster. Shelters provide a safe and secure place for individuals and families to stay during and after a disaster and the Red Cross brand is widely recognized as a symbol of refuge. 

Multiple agencies manage shelters during a disaster, including Red Cross.  Other agencies may be managing a shelter in cooperation with Red Cross, with or without receiving Red Cross support, or they may be managing a shelter completely independently.   Partner Managed Shelters are managed by partners, following Red Cross principles, in cooperation with the Red Cross.

The shelter materials posted here by the Red Cross are available for use by any agency managing a shelter.

Mass Care Seminar in Conshohocken, Pennsylvania

Leveraging Regional Partnerships for Better Local Planning

On March 18, 2016, the Southeastern Pennsylvania Regional Task Force (SEPA RTF) and the Health and Human Services Workgroup (HHS WG) sponsored a Mass Care Seminar at the Montgomery County Fire Academy in Conshohocken, Pennsylvania to bring together local and regional key stakeholders to discuss mass care preparedness and response planning. This seminar was the second exercise in a series of activities to explore and improve the region’s mass care emergency support function (ESF #6) capacity and capabilities.

Over 60 participants from over 30 local, state, and federal agencies and service providers attended the seminar from key sectors such as emergency management, public health, nongovernmental organizations, human services, and advocacy groups representing access and functional needs and disabled populations.

Participants enjoyed six informational sessions led by nationally recognized subject matter experts in mass care, including Denise Grimm, Dawn Skaggs, and Jon Bodie from BCFS Health and Human Services and Michael Whitehead from the American Red Cross National Headquarters. Session topics provided mass care planning information, best practices, and methods for improving local mass care plans and partnerships. The six sessions led participants through key issues such as providing medical care in local mass care shelters, how to support those with access and functional needs both in planning and in response, incorporating mental health services in emergency planning and sheltering, and how to better coordinate and incorporate nongovernmental organizations and other non-traditional agencies into the local mass care process.

Seminar participants described this effort as important for enhancing agency networking and improving partnerships. Several attendees agreed that the information was crucial but also validated their own organizational directives and planning efforts. The motto “Be Ready, Not Relaxed” was provided by one of the participants, who stated that the seminar was a great collaboration for the region and hoped to see more opportunities like this one for future coordination.

Information from the seminar is available online at: Seminar materials include event objectives, speaker bios, and presentations as well as a list of online resources mentioned throughout the day.

More About the Sponsor:

The Southeastern Pennsylvania Regional Task Force – Health and Human Services Workgroup includes the City and County of Philadelphia, Bucks County, Chester County, Delaware County, and Montgomery County. The Health and Human Services Workgroup continues to work to improve the local and regional mass care response within the region through an integrative, collaborative, and cooperative program that builds, maintains, and enhances preparedness capabilities among regional stakeholders.