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Following recent disasters, especially Hurricane Katrina, states are beginning to recognize the need to strengthen their emergency preparedness and disaster response. Leading the way is the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), part of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

From lessons learned over the past thirty years of disaster response, FEMA has established the National Incident Management System (NIMS), the official game plan for all agencies responding to emergencies of any size.

Natural disasters can take the form of tornados, hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, blizzards, wildfires, storms, or volcanos. Man-made disasters such as nuclear, radiological, biological, chemical, and fires present more complex challenges for emergency responders. Emergency managers at all levels of government are gathering resources and establishing relationships necessary to respond to these crisis situations. As with most disasters, there are numerous civilian and government agencies that are activated to respond to various aspects of an emergency. At the state level, this includes the military forces under their command, both National Guard and State Guard.

In the past decade, National Guard resources have been stretched like never before. In addition to its duties to the state, the National Guard has been heavily utilized by the federal government as a supplemental force for the regular Army and Army Reserves in their missions abroad. Consequently, National Guard personnel have focused heavily on war fighting and anti-terror training. This left a unique opportunity for the Ohio Military Reserve to fulfill a real mission for the state.

The National Response Framework (NRF) is part of the National Strategy for Homeland Security that presents the guiding principles enabling all levels of domestic response partners to prepare for and provide a unified national response to disasters and emergencies. Building on the existing NIMS as well as Incident Command System (ICS) standardization, the NRF's coordinating structures are always in effect for implementation at any level and at any time for local, state, and national emergency or disaster response.

The Emergency Support Functions (ESF), a part of NIMS, is the grouping of governmental and certain private sector capabilities into an organizational structure to provide support, resources, program implementation, and services that are most likely needed to save lives, protect property and the environment, restore essential services and critical infrastructure, and help victims and communities return to normal following domestic incidents. The Ohio Military Reserve was assigned to fulfill the responsibilities found in the ESF doctrine:

Mass Care, Emergency Assistance, Housing, and Human Services

When directed by the state or local EMA, ESF #6 services and programs are implemented to assist individuals and households impacted by potential or actual disaster incidents. ESF #6 is organized into four primary functions: Mass Care, Emergency Assistance, Housing, Human Services, and, for the OHMR, Volunteer Reception Centers.

Logistics Management and Resource Support

ESF #7 provides centralized management for the role of the Logistics Coordinator and management of resource support requirements in support of Federal, State, tribal, and local governments.

Additionally the ESF #7 scope includes:
Volunteer Reception

Emergency managers, first responders and leaders of voluntary organizations who respond to disasters know that when a major event occurs, volunteers will come. When this happens with little planning beforehand, results have often been described as a "disaster within a disaster."

Imagine the questions that an emergency manager has that have unknown answers. How many volunteers will come? What skills and training have they had? What if there aren't enough volunteers? What if there are too many? Who will supervise them? What if a volunteer is injured? What organization is responsible for them? Who feeds or houses them?

Many images come to mind... volunteers wearing sandals at a site littered with nails, splintered lumber and mud; citizens wanting to be trained on site when time and personnel are limited; or too-young students arriving and expecting to be fed as if they were at home. The results can be chaotic; there is no time or place at an active disaster site to incorporate willing but unprepared volunteers. The Volunteer Reception Center becomes the model to process these individuals.

This is where the Ohio Military Reserve's order, discipline, and structured command comes into play. As a state agency, we have a direct line of communication to the Adjutant General's office and the Ohio EMA. In addition, our military training allows us to be more self-sufficient and adapt to constantly changing conditions.

Medical Support

The OHMR also maintains its own Medical Detachment. Personnel assigned to this unit have some sort of medical training or clinical background. From EMTs to physicians, these personnel operate as medics and medical examiners for the entire brigade and perform their drill and training duties like any other unit. They can also provide emergency medical care in the field for both soldiers and civilians.

The Medical Detachment is also responsible for providing annual physical exam renewals as well as evaluating the physical fitness of new recruits, especially when special medical circumstances require further analysis. They also provide training to other personnel on subjects that include First-aid, CPR, and AED.

Other Duties

In addition to the mission-specific training, the OHMR also provides several community and veterans-related services to their communities, including:

Personnel with a wide variety of professional skills are also utilized in special departments within the headquarters (HQ) companies, including: lawyers, investigators, law enforcement and security officers, and religious leaders.


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