ICS in American Samoa, Governor and FEMA


Tingman:
I just wanted to have a quick chat with you this morning about our forming our team in Hawaii when we first got the declaration from the White House and then our ride out with the Coast Guard and then what we did the first day or two to start the foundation of our ICS, our Incident Command System, and then the use of the JFO to build objectives and priorities. Tulafono:
Well I think in this disaster its the first time ever in memory that we were able to get the command structure up very quickly and able to do that from day one. And when I got the first call in Honolulu and was able to speak directly to FEMA, to the Army and to the Coast Guard that day, the same day of the tsunami; we were able to try and make contact directly also to home, but it was very difficult. So having that relationship in Hawaii immediately was very very critical. It got us to move the assistance and the relief very quickly. Got the application for the declaration to the President immediately. And we were able to put that in place instead of the normal one to two weeks in all previous disasters that I was involved in, and I’ve been involved in about three of them since 1997. So when we came home, took a visit around the island, that itself turned out to be one of the best things that happened to the people because the visibility of the federal government on the ground the day after the disaster was something that I think brought warmth to their hearts and confidence that help was here quickly. Tingman:
Your setting the priorities and giving them the feel of a governor from the very beginning was our beginning of ICS, and that happened even before we left Hawaii. Tulafono:
By the time we got on the flight that night we had a very good idea, you know, what the immediate priorities were. Tingman:
We also had some unique things. This was a ‘no-notice’ event. In your own words you said it was kind of your island’s ‘9-11’. It was pretty catastrophic. You had multiple deaths, power outages. And about a month ago you and I talked about the way we began to set the priorities and then started showing some victories along the way and how the entire team came together believing that ICS and that ‘Planning P’ setting those priorities that we did at the start of every day was the way to be successful. Tulafono:
As a matter of fact, 9-29 was supposed to be the island-wide exercise for, especially for a tsunami. As I said, we ended up with a real live exercise, you know, in the islands. And it turned out that the things that they prepared for, the training of the pulenuus, the training principals and the teachers was what really saved a lot of lives.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *