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How Does the EMAC Process Work?

The EMAC process consists of five phases that provide form and structure needed to share resources during times of emergency/disaster. This multistep process provides a systematic approach that has been proven to work when state emergency management agencies are actively engaged and the various steps are followed.

Use the graphic below to explore the five phases of the EMAC process by selecting on the process stage.

  • Overview
  • Phase 1
  • Phase 2
  • Phase 3
  • Phase 4
  • Phase 5

Overview of the EMAC Process:


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All EMAC Member States have enacted the EMAC legislation and have agreed to use the EMAC procedures for the implementation of EMAC.

EMAC is coordinated through the state emergency management agencies within the EMAC Member States on behalf of their respective governors.

Phase 1: Pre-Event Preparation

During the pre-event preparation phase of EMAC, all jurisdictions—whether state, county, local, or private sector—develop internal procedures for implementing EMAC, incorporate lessons learned into their planning, perform resource typing and predetermine cost estimates, and conduct EMAC training and exercises in cooperation with their state emergency management agencies.

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Pre-event preparation includes (but is not limited to) conducting A-Team planning, training, and exercises; preparing “Go Kits”; updating contact information on the EMAC web site and online EMAC Operations System; developing internal procedures for EMAC activation in the state to include outside agencies; and developing Mission Ready Packages (MRPs).

Pre-event preparation is an essential element of the EMAC process.

To ensure a successful mission, every Resource Provider has a responsibility to engage in pre-event preparation before an emergency or disaster ever occurs.

Phase 2:  Activation

When a state is impacted by a disaster, the affected jurisdictions identify needs and route them through the appropriate chain of command.  When a resource request reaches the state emergency management agency, the incident commander determines the most appropriate source to fill that resource need.  The source may be federal, private sector, a volunteer organization, or through other states using EMAC.

When a state faces an emergency—whether it arises from natural or manmade disaster, resource shortages, enemy attack, or other hazard—that state’s governor may declare an emergency or disaster, authorizing funds to be expended for response and recovery.

A governor’s declaration is the first step in the activation of EMAC. The second step is that the affected state’s EMAC Authorized Representative or EMAC Designated Contact opens an event in the online EMAC Operations System, alerting both the National Coordinating State and NEMA that a request for resources is likely.

An important note here is that only an impacted state needs to declare an emergency. States that may assist do not need to make such a declaration, although those states’ EMAC Authorized Representatives should keep their governors apprised of the possibility of incoming assistance requests.

Phase 3: Request and Offer

Agencies within states use their in-state resource request procedures to route all requests, including those under EMAC, to their home state emergency management agency. Once a state emergency management agency identifies a need or receives a request for assistance and determines that those resources are best obtained through EMAC Member States, the request and offer phase of the EMAC process begins.

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Once the Requesting State’s EMAC Authorized Representative has identified that EMAC will be the source of the request, the request is handed off to the in-state EMAC A-Team or an A-Team from an Assisting State. This A-Team facilitates the EMAC process under the direction and control of the EMAC Authorized Representatives. The A-Team communicates the request for assistance to potential Assisting States, usually through the utilization of the EMAC Operations System.  

The potential Assisting States assess their own risk level, and if able, use their in-state EMAC activation protocols to contact the in-state Resource Provider to determine their ability to assist. The Assisting State may then indicate the state’s ability to offer assistance through the online Operations System, phone, or e-mail.

The Requesting and Assisting State emergency management agencies then complete the EMAC Request for Assistance Form (REQ-A). 

For any request to be valid through EMAC, the Requesting State and Assisting State must complete all three parts of the REQ-A. The Requesting State completes details and signs the request for assistance in REQ-A Section I, the Assisting State makes its offer through REQ-A Section II, and the Requesting State—should it accept the offer—completes REQ-A Section III. Once completed, the REQ-A constitutes a legally binding agreement.  

When the Requesting State approves an offer and signs off on Section III, the Requesting State commits itself to be responsible for the expenses associated with that mission that are detailed in the REQ-A. 

Phase 4: Response

Once all three sections of a REQ-A have been executed by the state emergency management EMAC personnel, a contractual agreement has been formalized and resources are ready to be mobilized from an Assisting State to a Requesting State.

If the resources are materials, the Resource Providers should immediately arrange for deployment. If the resources are personnel, those personnel should take care of all personal business; arrange travel, transportation, and lodging, if necessary; pack adequately; and initiate the process of documenting and tracking expenses for reimbursement.

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Mobilizing personnel should receive a pre-deployment briefing by their respective states’ emergency management agency, and once they arrive at their location, they should notify their home state’s emergency management agency.

Due to the nature of the situation, deployed personnel will likely have to deal with difficult living and working circumstances, limited communications, traumatized residents as well as coworkers, long working hours, primitive field conditions, and other difficult situations.

Deployed personnel should also realize that the last phase of the EMAC process—reimbursement—will flow effectively if they maintain receipts and any other necessary documentation to submit to their Resource Providers after they return home. Thus, during the response effort, personnel must remember to collect and store all evidence of costs that will be covered under the REQ-A contract.

Once the mission is completed—that is, the resources are used, services rendered are complete, or personnel’s term of duty has expired—the resources are demobilized. Demobilized personnel should be ready upon returning home to participate in any post-deployment briefings and, just as important, prepare the documentation they need for reimbursement.

Phase 5: Reimbursement

Although reimbursement is the last phase of the EMAC process, attention to reimbursement details extends to all phases. Resource Providers, as well as personnel who may deploy in support of an EMAC mission, should be well versed in advance of that mission on how the reimbursement process works and what documentation to obtain to support a reimbursement claim.

First, any deployed personnel should organize, package, and submit all receipts necessary to obtain reimbursement for travel and other mission-related expenses from the Resource Provider.

The Resource Provider then collects, prepares, audits, and submits reimbursement documentation to their states’ emergency management agency.

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That state’s emergency management agency, in turn, audits and reviews the submitted documentation and may then reimburse the Resource Provider for the costs incurred to perform the EMAC mission.*

The state emergency management agency prepares and forwards the complete reimbursement package to the Requesting State for reimbursement. The Requesting State audits the reimbursement package and, if all costs are properly documented, repays the Assisting State in a timely manner.

Important to remember is that the EMAC Form REQ-A is a legal agreement, and, as such, any costs that are agreed to and signed off on by both Requesting and Assisting States are binding.

*Some states' laws prohibit payment to resource providers until payment is received by the Requesting State.