U.S. Senator Mark Pryor today introduced legislation to reauthorize a popular program that allows states to quickly receive or provide trained first responders and other assistance to neighboring states when tornadoes, flooding, or other disasters strike.
"When severe storms, tornadoes, and flooding swept through the south this spring, more than 600 first responders stepped in to clear debris, fix power lines, and provide shelter," Pryor said. "The Emergency Management Assistance Compact enabled this immediate and effective response by removing legal and financial barriers. My legislation ensures neighboring states can continue to help neighbors in need when disaster strikes."
The Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC) Reauthorization Act will enable first responders to continue providing emergency services to a neighboring state that has exhausted its own capabilities. The current compact provides reciprocity in recognizing professional licenses and permits for professional skills and also provides liability protection.
Second, the EMAC Act will authorize up to $2 million a year from Fiscal Year 2012 to Fiscal Year 2016 to provide training materials and courses for first responders; conduct cross-state exercises and after-action assessments; and to establish a tracking system of deployed assets. These provisions will address recommendations by the Government Accountability Office and the 9/11 Commission that called for mutual aid enhancement and stronger administrative capacity of the EMAC network.
Since the Emergency Management Assistance Compact's inception in 1995, states have requested assistance 179 times. The compact has enabled over 83,000 first responders to assist neighboring states, including 2,057 first responders deployed from Arkansas.