Mutual aid is a critical resource multiplier for those responding to emergencies and disasters in North Carolina. It simply is not physically or financially possible for each jurisdiction to own, maintain and staff all of the resources that might be needed to respond to significant events. As a result of North Carolina’s experience with a variety of disasters, the State of North Carolina has developed a statewide mutual aid program for cities and counties. This mutual aid system is available on a voluntarily basis; cities and counties may choose to join, or not. The benefit of joining is having access to all of North Carolina’s response capability, without incurring the costs to purchase or maintain an inventory of underused resources.
The Mutual Aid system helps “package” all of North Carolina’s response resources to fill typical requests or missions. That entails working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to develop and implement nationally accepted response resource standards and to comply with those standards.
If an entity has already adopted its mutual aid agreement and has filed it with the North Carolina Division of Emergency Management, it does not need to adopt another one. However, cities and counties are encouraged to make certain the contact information is up to date. If it’s not up to date, they need to notify the Emergency Management.
How do you use the mutual aid system when you need it?
There are two options to use the mutual aid system: 1) Call directly to neighboring participating jurisdictions and request assistance. It is advised that you initiate conversation and pre-event planning with your neighboring jurisdictions prior to any emergency need for mutual aid response. 2) Call the Division of Emergency Management’s 24 Hour Operations Center at 800-858-0368.
There may be associated expenses including costs to: pay salaries of those responding to the event, operate response equipment, replace resources needed before the next deployment, and repair any equipment damaged during the response. The requesting and responding jurisdictions are responsible for addressing associated response resource costs for events that do not qualify for federal disaster assistance under the Robert T. Stafford Act.
What kinds of resources are available?
There are no specific limits on the kinds of resources that may be requested through the mutual aid system. Typically, mutual aid requests follow the emergency support functions addressed in emergency operations plans such as: law enforcement, emergency medical service, fire and rescue, incident management, communications, infrastructure support, hazmat teams or search and rescue teams.