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A Menu of Suggested Provisions for Public Health Mutual Aid Agreements

Request and Response Procedures

Descriptive Note

Particularly with regard to emergency-related mutual aid agreements, articulation of the steps to be followed in requesting aid and responding to requests [including “incident command” provisions compliant with the National Incident Management System (NIMS)] is advisable.** Related provisions may include specification of the resources to be provided and the circumstances under which aid may by withheld or withdrawn. Procedural provisions should be drafted with a view to the type of emergency triggering their use. For example, EMAC provides the request and response mechanisms to be used during a declared emergency; additional procedural agreements not in conflict with EMAC requirements should be contemplated only if EMAC procedures are considered to be in need of supplementation.

Optional sample provisions

Prescribing procedures for request and response:
  • The requesting Party shall include in its request for assistance the amount and the type of equipment and the number of personnel requested and shall specify the location where the equipment and personnel are needed. The responding Party shall have exclusive authority to determine the type of equipment and the number of personnel to be furnished. No Party may make any claim whatsoever against the other Party for refusal to send the requested equipment or personnel.

     
  • When requested to provide assistance, Parties agree to assess their situation to determine availability of personnel, equipment, and other resources. Parties shall render assistance to the extent that personnel, equipment, and resources are available. Each Party agrees to render assistance in accordance with the terms of this Agreement to the fullest extent possible. When the Party determines that it has available personnel, equipment, or other resources, the Party shall so notify the requesting Party, and provide the following information:
    • A complete description of the personnel, equipment, and other resources to be furnished;
    • The estimated length of time that such personnel, equipment, and other resources will be available to assist;
    • The estimated time when the assistance provided will arrive at the location designated by the receiving Party.
    • The areas of experience, training, and abilities of the personnel and the capability of the equipment to be furnished, and
    • The name of the person or persons to be designated as supervisory personnel.

       
  • The authorized representative of a Party may request assistance of another Party by contacting its authorized representative. These provisions only apply to requests for assistance made by and to authorized representatives. Requests may be verbal or in writing. The authorized representative will confirm a verbal request in writing within 15 days.
Providing for incident command:
  • Assets and equipment of a responding Party shall continue under the control of the appropriate officials within the incident management system of the Party receiving the assistance.

     
  • The requesting Party shall be in command of the mutual aid scene. The personnel and equipment of the responding Party shall be under the direction and control of the requesting Party until the responding Party withdraws assistance.

     
  • All equipment and personnel provided by the responding Party shall, at all times while at the site of an emergency, remain under the sole and exclusive control and direction of the designated representative of the Party supplying said equipment and personnel. Said representative shall have an absolute right to remove any or all equipment or personnel from the site at any time the representative deems it appropriate.

     
  • Emergency personnel continue under the command and control of their regular leaders, but the organizational units come under the operational control of the emergency services authorities of the Party receiving assistance. These conditions may be activated, as needed, by the Party that is to receive assistance or upon commencement of exercises or training for mutual aid and continue as long as the exercises or training for mutual aid are in progress, the emergency remains in effect or loaned resources remain with the receiving Party, whichever is longer. The receiving Party is responsible for informing the responding Party when services will no longer be required.
Acknowledging discretion to withhold or withdraw aid:
  • A responding Party may withhold resources to the extent necessary to provide reasonable protection and services for its own jurisdiction.

     
  • The Party rendering aid shall at all times have the right to withdraw any and all aid provided, however, that the Party withdrawing such aid shall notify the Party requesting aid of the withdrawal of such aid and the extent of such withdrawal.

     
  • It is expressly understood and agreed by the Parties that the rendering of assistance under the terms of this Agreement shall not be mandatory, but that the Party receiving the request may in its discretion refuse to furnish any equipment or personnel consistent with its primary responsibility of providing emergency services within its own jurisdiction. It is the understanding of the Parties that the responding Party shall furnish the requested assistance unless such responding Party is actively engaged in responding to a public health emergency in its own jurisdiction, and has no equipment or personnel available or the responding Party determines that the needs of the requesting Party are beyond the capacity of the responding Party. When responding to a request the responding Party shall do so in a timely and reasonable fashion. In situations where the responding Party is unable to furnish the requested assistance, it will notify the requesting Party as soon as practicable that assistance will not be rendered.

** Parties may prefer to specify such procedures or protocols in an agreement appendix, operating manual or other document rather than within the text of the agreement. 

 
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