NWMIMT Activities and Exercises

Recent Deployments -Special events

The Team participates in a variety of activities, including deployments, training and exercises. Below are recent examples.

Shelburne Falls Road Race August 10, 2019

For the second year, the team assisted Public Safety officials with the Shelburne Falls Bridge of Flowers Road Race with communications, safety, logistics and public info. The race was expected to attract over 1000 participants.

Larry Holmberg, NWMIMT team member leads the morning operations briefing

EMAC Deployment to Rhode Island Aquidneck Island for Natural Gas Outage Emergency: January 2019

Nine NWMIMT members and two MA Department of Recreation and Conservation staff, along with several MEMA personnel helped support the Aquidneck Island gas outage in Rhode Island from Jan 23rd to Jan 28th. Massachusetts personnel were split between the RI State Emergency Operations Center (EOC) in Cranston and the Unified Command Center (UCC) in Newport. The emergency was compounded by brutally cold temperatures and a major rain storm. By Monday Jan 28th, service was restored to the vast majority of residences and all team members were demobilized.

The incident began when the National Grid suspended gas service to 6,800 gas customers Monday January 21, due to a low transmission supply issue. Team/MEMA staff worked in the Planning, Operations, Logistics and Finance Sections. All affected locations had to have technicians turn off the gas and then return once the system was repaired to turn it back on. In the meantime, state and local responders, including local and state police, local fire, RI National Guard and the volunteer organization Team Rubicon visited each home to ensure that residents were healthy and safe. The American Red Cross provided support for a local shelter and food distribution.

The team received a thank you note from Kurt Schwartz, Director of the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency, which read in part "I want to thank... members of NWMIMT for your quick deployment to Rhode Island during their Aquidneck Island Gas Incident. The Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency has expressed their gratitude for the team's support and guidance in all aspect of the incident at the State Emergency Operations Center and Unified Coordination Center. The commitment and professionalism exhibited by the members of the NWMIMT was outstanding."

The team wishes to thank MEMA and and the the State of Rhode Island for including NWMIMT in the response. Rhode Island staff at the EOC and UCC could not have been more welcoming.

NWMIMT and MEMA Staff Discuss the Response with RI Governor Raimondo.

EMAC Deployment to Bay County Florida Emergency Operations Center for Hurricane Michael: Oct 2018

A request for assistance from Florida came through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC), which is the national emergency management mutual aid system that facilitates state-to-state disaster assistance. MEMA assembled a joint team of 8 NWMIMT members and 3 staff members from the MA Dept of Conservation and Recreation (who are also members of the Barnstable County Incident Management Team). This combined team was assigned to work in the Bay County Emergency Operations Center in Southport FL for a 14 day deployment from October 19-27. Bay County is home to Mexico Beach, where hurricane Michael came ashore with sustained wind-speeds of 155 mph and a 20' storm surge which caused truly catastrophic damage throughout the county.

During the fourteen-day deployment from October 19-27, team members were assigned to work in various capacities in the Emergency Operations Center. Several assisted in the logistics section, which is responsible for getting needed equipment and supplies to responders and citizens. Others worked in the Plans Section helping to ensure that incident management had up-to-date information about the progress of the response, accurate detailed maps and awareness of type and number of responders. Specifically, team members worked on "ground truthing" information to ensure that operations had correct information about conditions in the field, assessing and maintaining shelters and points of distribution, ensuring food safety at the EOC, and providing public information.


Town of Wendell Train Derailment- August 2018

State Fire Marshal Peter J. Ostroskey and New Salem and Wendell Fire Chief Joe Cuneo announced that there was a Pan Am Railways partial freight train derailment off Farley Road in Wendell just before 3AM on Saturday August 4.

Four of the six derailed cars overturned and one of the tank cars was filled with hydrochloric acid. Evaluation of the car revealed no hazardous material leaks or reactions took place. However, as a precaution, a Department of Fire Services’ (DFS) Hazmat Team (Tier 1) and Special Operations team responded to assist.

There were no evacuations nor are any citizens threatened at this time.

Along with DFS, Wendell Fire Department was assisted by Erving, Greenfield, and Turners Falls Fire Departments. Other responding agencies were: DEP, and EPA. Our ICP was at Diemand Farm. All were very cooperative.

Sunderland 300th Birthday Celebrations- June 2018

Several Team members took Field Comm 40 (the NWMIMT communications van) to Sunderland in June to assist with communications during the Town's 300th Birthday Celebration parade. There were road closures on Routes 47 and 116 for the parade, which began at the Sunderland Elementary School on Old Amherst Road, and continued onto Rt 47, crossing Rt 116, to its ending point at North Silver Lane. Team members deployed the Field Comm, which was staffed by a Shelburne Control dispatcher and assisted the Sunderland emergency management director within the Town's emergency operations center, in case the unexpected occurred.

Communications are always a concern and this event was no different: the EOC could not communicate with the Field Comm. Fortunately, Team members were able to develop a workaround.

Kudos to Sunderland Police and Fire and South County EMS for their pre-planning work. Each had created well written and functional Incident Action Plan-type documents.

Town of Whately Response to Tanker Rollover on I-91- June 2018

Seven NWMIMT members assisted the Town of Whately with management of a tanker rollover on Interstate 91. The driver of the gasoline tanker was killed when he lost control of the tractor-trailer tanker, which was carrying 8,500 gallons of gasoline. Both sides of I-91 were closed. A total of 13 fire departments from surrounding towns responded to the accident. MEMA, MassDOT, Mass. DEP, and the regional hazmat team were also on site. Crews worked to extract the gasoline from the tanker. Whately Elementary School students were evacuated to Frontier Regional School due to the possibility of the tractor-trailer exploding.

Team members provided support for command, operations, safety, and public information.

Deployment to Puerto Rico for Hurricane Maria Response - October 2017

NWMIMT members ready to leave for Puerto Rico

Dennis Annear, Cam Dunbar, Bob Strahan Tracy Rogers, Kevin Rogers, Ryan Clary and Butch Garrity

The Northwest Massachusetts Incident Management Team (NWMIMT) returned to western Massachusetts on Monday, October 30, after a two week deployment to Puerto Rico to assist with response and recovery efforts after the destructive impact of Hurricane Maria. The Team worked alongside three emergency management personnel from the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA). The request for assistance from Puerto Rico came through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC), which is the national emergency management mutual aid system that facilitates state-to-state disaster assistance.

The 10-person incident management team worked for the Central Island Coordination Task Force to provide support and administrative assistance to the Puerto Rico Urban Search and Rescue Team. Additionally team members developed relationships and partnerships with a variety of emergency support function groups to organize delivery of water, food, infant supplies, pet food, blue tarps and camp stoves to individuals and communities in remote and isolated areas of central Puerto Rico. Team members worked twelve hour shifts daily for two weeks.

This deployment was the culmination of thousands of hours of volunteer time for training, meetings and preparation on the part of NWMIMT members. While in Puerto Rico, it was gratifying to recognize and be recognized by many people in the field of incident management that team members had met previously, either during deployments or in training sessions.

After seeing the long-term, devastating consequences of the storm on people’s lives, the Team noted how critical it is to take emergency preparation seriously. A general guideline here in Massachusetts is to be prepared to keep your family safe by having an emergency plan and a well-stocked emergency kit. You are the help, until help arrives.

NWMIMT is available to assist any community in Franklin, Hampshire, Hampden and Berkshire counties in need of some extra help during emergency response or large event management.

The Team is thankful for the support and funding it has received from the Western Region Homeland Security Advisory Council, the Tri-State Fire Mutual Aid Association and MEMA.

Deployment to Florida for Hurricane Irma Response-September 2017

NWMIMT responded to two EMAC requests to support recovery efforts for Hurricane Irma. The first was assist North Carolina in their Emergency Operation Centers. However, as the path of the storm moved westward, the request was cancelled.

The second request was to assist the State of Florida. Thirteen team members left our rallying point at the Deerfield Police station on Monday 9/11. Thanks to all of the Team Members that took time out of their lives and away from their families in order to participate and support this activation.

Our original mission was to deploy to the Florida State EOC in Tallahassee Florida to operate in a Logistics Staging Area. We rented two vans and with the Team Van departed for Florida on Monday 9/11 around noon. An hour into the trip we were notified by the Florida EOC that our mission had changed and we were to report to the Desoto County EOC in Arcadia, Florida. However, at 1957 hours as we were preparing to stop for dinner we were notified by the Desoto County EOC that there were downsizing their operation and our mission was going to be cancelled. Contact with the Florida EOC advised us to bed down for the night and check with them in the morning. The next morning after breakfast we were advised that overall mission was cancelled and we could demobilize. We packed the vans and headed home reaching Deerfield at 1837 hours.

Conway Tornado Response-February 2017

After the first-ever February tornado hit Conway on Saturday Feb 25th, with winds of up to 110 miles per hour, Fire Chief Bob Baker declared a state of emergency. Hundreds of trees were down throughout town and the storm left several homes and the local church uninhabitable. Initially power was lost for around 400 homes.

Town officials, including the Selectboard, Emergency Management Director, Acting Town Administrator, Director of Public Works, Police Chief, Board of Health, Administrative personnel and volunteers worked side by side with regional and state agencies to mount a coordinated, efficient and effective response. Multiple response agencies were activated to help with the storm clean-up, including EOPSS, MEMA, DEP, DCR, State and Regional Building Inspectors, Eversource and the NWMIMT.

NWMIMT members were called via Shelburne Control to respond on both Sunday and Monday to support the Emergency Operations Center, with Planning, Operations, Safety, Mapping, Logistics and Public Information. Team members assisted with development of an Incident Action Plan, GIS mapping and a visit by dignitaries such as Lt. Governor Polito, Senator Hinds, Representative Kulik, and Undersecretary of the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security, Patrick McMurray.

Recent Exercises

Vigilant Guard Full-Scale Exercise: November 5-9 2018

This statewide National Guard exercise was designed to exercise and train federal, state, local and military assets to work together as a team in response to a catastrophic emergency event: massive flooding of the Deerfield River Valley as a result of a failure of the Harriman Dam. This flood caused widespread human, infrastructure and environmental damage; including, fatalities and injuries, lost and unaccounted for individuals, loss of utilities, critical services (hospital) and cell service.

Team members working in Planning Section at the Incident Command Post

Simulated Press Conference Led by Tracy Rogers Incident Commander for the Exercise

Live feed of search and rescue from National Guard helicopter

Members of NJ State Police IMT who were integrated with NWMIMT

NWMIMT, along with members of the New Jersey State Police IMT began operations on Nov 5 to set-up and begin incident management at the Incident Command Post at Berkshire East in Charlemont. We were tasked with providing incident management of the incident an with producing an Incident Action Plan (IAP) for responding units for the Tuesday and Wednesday morning 0800 briefings.

The exercise afforded an opportunity for many team members to participate in new roles and/or to add new skills to their Incident Management Credentialing Task Books. It was also an excellent opportunity to work closely with another Incident Management Team to experience how well training in National Incident Management System works to provide common language, skill sets and position tasks, which were easily shared.

Military organizations participated to support emergency operations, search and rescue, intelligence and engineering. Additionally, many local, regional, state and federal agencies were involved, including local communities, MEMA, Southwest MA Technical Rescue Team, New York Urban Search and Rescue Task Force, Great River Hydro, MA Animal Rescue Team, Office of the Medical Examiner, MA State Police, MA DOT, MA Civil Air Patrol, FEMA Region 1, US EPA, MA Department of Conservation and Recreation, MA Dept of Fire Services.

The team is grateful to the support of the National Guard, the Massachusetts Urban Search and Rescue Task Force 1 and the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency for including and supporting us in this important exercise.

National Guard Video of Multiple Exercise Incidents that took place across the Commonwealth.

Western MA section is found between 49 sec and 1:23.

Final MA-TF1 VG Nov 2018 Video.mp4

MA Task Force 1 Video of Search and Rescue

Deerfield River Valley Tabletop Exercise: November 2018

Team members participated the Franklin Regional Council of Governments Deerfield River Valley Tabletop Exercise . The tabletop was developed to help prepare communities for the Vigilant Guard Full Scale Exercise the following week: the scenario being a failure of the Harriman Dam causing widespread flooding and damage to downstream communities.

Participants discussed response and recovery efforts, including, notifications, operational communications, situational assessment, critical transportation, public health and medical services, natural and cultural resources, infrastructure systems, multi-agency coordination, evacuation, and public information.

Approximately 100 players from multiples towns participated; including, local emergency management directors and boards of health, the Northwest MA Incident Management Team, MEMA, the Western MA Health and Medical Coordinating Coalition, Natural Resources Conservation Service, MA State Police (including Shelburne Control), and Great River Hydro (owner of the dam). During a working lunch, members of NWMIMT presented a panel discussion about the role and function of the Franklin County Multi-Agency Coordination Center (MACC). A tour of the MACC was also provided by NWMIMT.

The exercise was funded by the Western Region Homeland Security Council, hosted and developed by the Franklin Region Council of Governments and facilitated by the Northwest Massachusetts Incident Management Team.

Distant Storm Full Scale Exercise: September 2018

Team members at Operations Briefing

Seven NWMIMT members participated with the Springfield Metropolitan Medical Response System in the "Distant Storm" Full-Scale Exercise on September 15 at Westover Air Reserve Base in Chicopee. The purpose of the exercise was to be prepared to receive, triage, treat, transport and track patients originating from a national disaster or military operation within 24 hours.

During the exercise 30 (inflatable dummy) patients were transported by air to Westover ARB from a hospital in Dover Delaware that had been flooded during a hurricane. Upon arrival at Westover, members of Disaster Medical Assistance Team from Boston ( DMAT-1) performed initial triage and treatment before patients were transported by ambulance and air ambulance to hospitals across Western Massachusetts.

NWMIMT members assisted with command and control, operations, planning, accountability, patient tracking and public information. Other exercise participants included the local VA system, EMS, western regional hospitals, Public Health, Army National Guard and Westover Air Reserve Base, MEMA and the American Red Cross.

The exercise allowed multiple agencies from the federal, regional, state and local levels to work together as a team to practice the response plan. During the "hotwash", strengths, lessons learned and suggested improvements were noted, so that moving forward the plan and response can be even more effective and efficient.

An after action report will be forthcoming.

MEMA Advanced EOC training and functional exercise: May 9-11 2018

Several team members attended this 3 day training in Natick to learn about the MEMA State and Regional Emergency Operations Center Management. After two days of classroom and tabletop exercises, team members MEMA staff and other regional response professional manned the Region 3-4 Emergency Operations Center for a functional exercise. The scenario was widespread tornado destruction, focused in Chicopee, and involving a serious hazardous waste spill.