Proceedings Of The Marine

SPR 2015

Proceedings magazine is a communication tool for the Coast Guard's Marine Safety & Security Council. Each quarterly magazine focuses on a specific theme of interest to the marine industry.

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70 Proceedings Spring 2015 " The enemy is t he incident , not t he responder." CK: Given the long history of the NSF contrasted against the changing priorities of homeland security, what do you see the NSF's relevance today and into the future? RDML Austin: CG area incident management assistance teams (IMATs) were created around 2003, but in the past, the NSF predominantly supported the incident management role at the sectors during a response. The NSF provided sec- tor command advisement, situation and resource unit lead- ers, and general staff expertise during spills. In years past, the strike teams held the storehouse of knowl- edge in ICS. We were practitioners and regularly integrated; we effectively augmented contractors during every major response. With the advent of the IMATs, while NSF person- nel may not fll critical ICS roles during a response, they will continue to provide subject matter expertise to federal on-scene coordinators, in the command post as well as in the feld. The NSF will continue to be a vital special team, as part of the National Response System. Going forward, team standardization in the NSF is the key. It will also be important that Coast Guard sectors under- stand what the NSF can provide. On-scene coordinators should understand the term "special team," as stated in the National Oil and Hazardous Sub- stances Pollution Contingency Plan, means any OSC can request the NSF. This experience as practitioners in response provides a ready-state organic resource to sector command- ers for all-hazards and hazmat response operations. CK: In terms of value to the customer, where do you see the NSF providing the most value to incident command- ers, FOSCs, OSCs, FEMA PFOs during crises? RDML Austin: The NSF's value comes from recommenda- tions to sector commands on oil and hazardous substance response, the ability to provide feld oversight and special- ized equipment, and highly trained personnel who are able to work autonomously in undefned environments. The NSF is an assisting entity; the augmentation is sage council to the requesting command. CK: In several recent complex operations and incidents of national signifcance, the NSF has been designated by the affected sector as the incident-specifc FOSC. Please describe the value added by selecting that course of action. offcials at the local, state, and federal level, the public, non- governmental organizations, and the media — everyone who's interested in the incident and the steps the respond- ers are taking to mitigate it. "In these major crises, there's the incident and there's the event." Each of these stakeholders will be watching what you do and will expect to be kept up to date on the situation. In managing the incident, you have to also manage the event. CK: Through the lens of an incident commander, please describe the importance of crisis and risk communica- tions. RDML Austin: In Katrina, Rita, 9/11, in really any major response, it is critical to manage the expectations of the pub- lic. From the beginning, the public needs to be considered a partner in the response. The traditional model of contingency planning for signif- cant events, such as oil spills, needs to include local agen- cies in the process. Cosco Busan and Deepwater Horizon are examples of this. As sector commander, outreach is a continual process — pre- paring the operating environment in the event of an inci- dent. The enemy is the incident, not the responder. It is vitally important to get out and meet people from other agencies as well as the media. It's much better to know them prior to the event. When you know them and they know you, it's much easier to fnd common ground. Then-CAPT Meredith Austin, deputy incident commander of the Houma Incident Command Post, part of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill response, answers a reporter's questions during an open house. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Offcer Jonathan Lindberg.

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