Published May 16, 2017
TAHLEQUAH — Cherokee Nation’s Emergency Management team is now equipped with the expertise and vehicles to respond to a Type 3-level FEMA disaster.
Only about 120 entities nationally have attained the Type 3 all-hazard incident management team status, and Cherokee Nation is among the first tribe to attain it, Cherokee Nation Emergency Management Manager Jeremie Fisher said.
As defined by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, a Type 3 team can respond within hours to a natural disaster, a public health emergency, a large scale crash or another crisis within tribal boundaries.
The status also allows the team to remain active and on scene for several days to help coordinate with other agencies to respond to disasters.
“We are one of the first tribal Type 3 All-Hazard Incident Management Teams in the nation,” Fisher said. “Because we have combined our resources from within the Cherokee Nation, we can coordinate on-scene operations after natural disasters like a tornado or flood, or during other emergencies. Our team includes trained personnel from different departments and agencies who have a variety of expertise.”
Fisher came to work for the Cherokee Nation from the Oklahoma State Department of Health, where he worked as an emergency preparedness and response planner in charge of pandemic outbreak planning, preparedness training and public health response. The Cherokee Nation’s Emergency Management team also consists of public health, land surveillance, data officials and Cherokee Nation marshals.
“The Cherokee Nation is a tribe on the forefront of disaster response by having the leadership, training, manpower and equipment in place for emergencies,” Cherokee Nation Marshal Shannon Buhl said. “We can better serve and protect our Cherokee people during a crisis by having this response team on the ground with an area to operate out of if the need should arise.”
The Cherokee Nation’s Emergency Management department uses a new 36-foot mobile command center, which was purchased from a U.S. Department of Homeland Security grant in the past year.
The mobile command center is equipped with satellite communications and Wi-Fi. It can be used for drone aerial surveillance, office space to run operations and space to coordinate logistics with other agencies such as Red Cross.
The Cherokee Nation Mobile Command Center was first used in March when an EF-1 tornado touched down in the community of Greasy in Adair County and destroyed ball fields and a community activity center and did damage to some tribal citizens’ homes. It served as a hub for volunteers to help with clean up, meet with the Red Cross and survey the area.
FEMA’s Type 3 program is managed by the U.S. Fire Administration, which officials say currently tracks more than 120 teams total across the country, including the Cherokee Nation. The federal program offers training assistance and a mentorship program for teams seeking Type 3 status.
For more information on Cherokee Nation Emergency Management or to download emergency preparedness tips, visit http://www.cherokee.org/Our-Government/Emergency-Management or call 918-453-5000.
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