Mutual Aid Resources Are Pivotal to Disaster Response


California is no stranger to natural disasters. From mega fires to atmospheric rivers and flooding, climate-driven disasters often involve an all-agency local, state and federal response. At the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES), mutual aid is the backbone of quick and efficient response during emergencies. Through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC), moving resources throughout the country is pivotal to effective disaster response.

A major component to inter-state mutual aid is EMAC, which allows states to send personnel, equipment and commodities to assist with response and recovery efforts to other states. The EMAC system includes all 50 states as well as the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, the US Virgin Islands, and the Northern Mariana Islands.

Implemented on behalf of Governors through each state’s emergency management agency, the EMAC process is relatively straightforward. Once a state declares an emergency, a request for resources can be initiated. If another state can help, the mutual aid resources are then mobilized and deployed to impacted areas.

In 2022, California sent Specialized Urban Search and Rescue Resources teams to Florida, firefighters to Oregon, firefighters and disaster recovery experts to New Mexico and also sent firefighters and a public information specialist to Montana. In 2021, California sent fire engines to Oregon to suppress the Bootleg Fire and Specialized Urban Search and Rescue Resources teams to Florida to assist in the Surfside tower collapse.

In response to the recent 2023 storms, California received EMAC assistance during recovery efforts from Colorado, Louisiana, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and South Carolina.

For more on EMAC, visit