Governor Pete Ricketts and state officials Wednesday announced the formation of a state Incident Management Team that will be available to help bring state resources and expertise to bear during large incidents such as last year’s massive flooding and this year’s Hubbard Gap Fire.
Nebraska Emergency Management Agency Director Major General Daryl L. Bohac says the dedicated group of eight personnel involving command, operations, logistics and finance staff will be able to provide an all-hazard response when needed, giving local authorities an advantage with an additional layer of response coordination.
“You’ve got each player in each specialty already identified and ready to come together at a moment’s notice. So, when they agree to go through the training to become a member of the Incident Management Team, they really sign up for that type of response mechanism,” said Bohac. “Prior to that, I would say we were more of a ‘pickup game’; instead of bringing a team in, we would bring one or two people in depending on the needs presented to us.”
Bohac says the creation of the team has been about a decade in the making, spurred on by a review of the devastating 2012 wildfires that hit the western part of the state. He says it should help bolster the confidence of local emergency management and first responders, pointing to the large response to the Banner County fire last month as a potential example. “Think about a local incident commander’s ability to manage 25 different departments responding to that. Having this other layer, if needed and they feel it’s appropriate, to bring us in, we can get there relatively quickly in response.”
Ricketts says the IMT includes the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency, the state fire marshal and the Nebraska state forester, and will also be able to coordinate the use of out-of-state assets contracted through the state of Nebraska.
Region 22 Emergency Management Director Tim Newman will be part of the IMT as a Type 3 Logistics Section Chief (LSC3).
Newman told KNEB News that although they didn’t call the IMT in on the Hubbard Gap fire, they had several of its members here on the fire. Allen Michel, Fred Reichert and Dana Reece from the Fire Marshal’s WIRAT Team are Type 3 Operations Section Chief, Communications Unit Leader and Planning Section Chief respectively. Dave Reisen and Larry Fitchner from NEMA are Type 3 Planning Section Chief and Resource Unit Leader respectively. Newman is the Logistics Section Chief, Gering Fire Chief Nathan Flowers is a Planning Section Chief and Division Supervisor Trainee on the state team as well.
Newman says they also had Seth Peterson helping from Western Nebraska Regional Airport. He is an Air Operations Trainee and the SEAT base Manager. Peterson works for Nebraska Forest Service.
So, without calling out the official team, Newman says they had virtually every position filled with people on that team.
He also says many of those people will also be here for the West Nebraska Engine Academy beginning Saturday.