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TEMA Structure

Executive Office

The Executive Office is comprised of the Director and his immediate assistants. The Director's Office is responsible for setting policy for the agency, as well as insuring the overall goals and objectives of the agency are met, initiating the development of strategy relative to the requirements of various state and federal regulations, budget, and the policies of the Governor. This office will coordinate with elected, appointed and other officials of the government and civilian community who are seeking information or resolution to issues. The Director of the agency is appointed by the Governor and serves at his discretion. The Director and Assistant Agency Directors are appointed by the Governor upon recommendation of the Adjutant General in the Department of Military. During non-emergency periods, TEMA is under the administrative control of the Adjutant General. During emergencies the Director reports directly to the Governor and coordinates with the Adjutant General. TEMA has 112 positions, with 77 positions assigned to the agency base and 35 positions assigned to the regions. Administrative Services is a section added to the Executive Office that assists with budget and acquisitions.

The Director of TEMA is the executive head of emergency management activities in the state. The Director is the Governor's Authorized Representative (GAR) by law and the State Coordinating Official (SCO). The Director declares a state of emergency on behalf of the Governor when he authorizes activation of the Tennessee Emergency Management Plan (TEMP) and the State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC). During an emergency the Director is directly responsible to the Governor to report incidents, to coordinate emergency management plans and to direct actions in behalf of the Governor. The Director discusses with and informs the Adjutant General of the emergency and emergency management activities and administratively reports to him during non-emergency periods.

The Assistant Agency Director for Response is responsible for ensuring an efficient operational response and oversees the Operations and Communications Branch, the Plans and Exercises Branch, the Training Branch, and regional offices. The AAD-R ensures that local jurisdictions are supported effectively and that communications is maintained at all times. The AAD-R mediates problems and serves as a buffer between the daily issues affecting the field and the Director.

The Assistant Agency Director for Recovery is responsible for ensuring update and practicality of recovery plans and activities, coordination with federal and other external agencies at the FEMA Joint Field Office, management of programs and grants, to include mitigation of threats, and oversees agency support functions, including food, clothing, equipment, information technology, facilities and real estate. The AAD-P mediates problems and manages the recovery staff and its missions.

Executive Command Staff

The Executive Administration Officer is responsible for the coordination and development of agency guidance, such as SOPs, plans, operations guides and other policy documents, across the various departments of the agency, as well as making sure all briefing materials are kept updated. The EAO maintains the business plan and recommends selective strategy for the agency's strategic plan. The EAO serves the agency's needs relative to legislation in the state House and Senate and ensures legislative actions are coordinated with other agencies and keeps members of the state and federal delegations apprised of the status of emergency response efforts. The EAO takes charge of critical projects and ensures completion of time-sensitive tasks in new programs. The EAO performs duties for special programs of interest to the Director, such as Safety Officer, agency Intergovernmental Liaison Officer, and occasional duties as State Emergency Information Officer, reserve Public Information Officer or a position on the Crisis Action Team.

The Executive Officer is responsible for the coordination and development of various projects, programmatic materials and documents across the various divisions of the agency. The XO may focus on the implementation of special programs or products. The XO provides direct support for the director in various tasks to include scheduling the weekly staff meetings, quarterly off-sites for the executive staff and coordinating agenda. The Executive Officer focuses on budget actions for special programs.

The Finance Officer is responsible for fiscal oversight and account management, final approval of purchases, payment of bills, expense reimbursements and monitoring capitol projects. This officer oversees the finance section which also manages quality review of federal disaster funds and other funds. The Finance Officer interfaces with audits and reviews from both state and federal levels. There are two other persons assigned in the finance section to help support agency accountability.

The Public Information Officer provides the conduit to the public for all aspects of the agency's public relations activities. The PIO is responsible for the development and coordination of media releases and other interface. The PIO coordinates with the Governor's staff and other state departments and agencies to ensure a single front to the public on emergency management activities, disasters or other emergency activities. The PIO is the focal point for special media interviews, as well as the lead office for developing public awareness and education. The PIO serves as the agency's point of contact for public information requests.

The Human Resources Manager is responsible for personnel acquisition, for retirements and other separations, reassignments and promotions, for agency manning documents and registers, for employee personnel records and reports, for payroll monitoring and associated actions, and for leave and attendance coordination and documentation. The Human Resource Manager serves as the conduit to the Military Department's Personnel Office for personnel matters.

The Administrative Assistant to the Director provides administrative support for the agency director, performs office management and hosts visitors, handles or coordinates inquiries, writes and receives correspondence, handles executive mail, and manages the director's travel arrangements and calendar. The administrative assistant to the director serves as recorder and administrative support for conferences, arranges meetings and provides agency travel oversight, performs personnel time-keeping for the executive staff, makes professional contacts with the public and other departments, divisions and organizations, explains services and activities, presents briefings and trains new staff personnel. The administrative assistant to the director maintains a record of emergency service coordinators or liaison positions and communicates with commissioners and directors to ensure appointments are maintained.

TEMA Departments - Branches


Operations and Communications Branch: The Operations and Communications Branch includes the Director of Operations and Communications, the Chief of Operations, the Chief of Communications, 5 radio communications specialists and 12 Operations Officers providing significant depth of formal training and experience for the 24-hour operation. The operations watch-point is the focal point for receiving warnings from counties, making notifications, and arranging for initial response actions 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. There are two or more operations officers on duty at all times. When additional operations officers are assigned due to threats, the SEOC enters an elevated emergency activation level although this status may not be a declaration of emergency. Operations officers typically handle the coordination for small emergencies occurring concurrently with larger disasters and may perform duties in the Mission Coordination Center in an activation. The communications element works hand-in-glove with the operations watchpoint to ensure that telephones, radios, satellite links, e-mail and web links and other communications means are installed and maintained. TEMA communications personnel ensure vital connections are made with local government command, control and coordination centers and other key headquarters during emergency situations.

Planning and Exercises Branch: The Planning and Exercises Branch has 11 persons assigned to handle the preparedness mission, to collect and disseminate operational and logistical information, to develope and maintain plans, and to prepare and execute development of exercises and evaluation oversight. The Plans and Exercises Director also serves as the Radiological Safety Officer. The Branch has two elements, Natural Hazards and Technical Hazards, which have oversight for three significant subject areas:

Collecting disaster information that is accurate and displays the common operating picture (COP)   for the emergency is essential for proper decision making in response to the disaster. Processing that information into accurate summaries for dissemination is also an important task. PEM Branch does this mission for the SEOC upon activation. The PEM Branch is responsible for writing the Incident Action Plan for any major emergency, for developing and maintaining the flow of disaster information and accomplishing incident summaries to develop the COP.

Information gathering is a transition to making plans, and TEMA is responsible for the development of plans for all hazards. Especially detailed plans exist for the truly daunting potentials, including radiological releases, toxic chemical spills or plumes, major dam failure and catastrophic earthquake. This branch is responsible for the planning to respond to chemical spills and releases at fixed facilities, and the branch provides support for the State Emergency Response Committee (SERC) and its satellites, the Local Emergency Planning Committees (LEPC). This section also provides technical expertise and services for radiological, chemical, and environmental issues related to emergencies. The section can provide radiological hazard assessment, technical planning and specialized radiological training, and serves as liaison with for the U.S. Department of Energy and Tennessee Valley Authority. This section procures radiological detection and monitoring instruments and performs maintenance, calibration and distribution of devices for responders. This section is the repository of the many plans prepared by other sections or panels of sections from throughout the agency or state. One of the most important plans maintained by the PEM Branch is the Tennessee Emergency Management Plan (TEMP) which details how response will be accomplished by all departments, agencies and counties of the state and signed by the Governor. The PEM Branch prepares the Tennessee Emergency Management Strategic Plan which sets goals, objectives and milestones for improvements, identifies budget requirements and supports equipping the agency. The PEM Branch prepares the Continuity of Government Plan (COG) which lays out the steps for moving the seat of government, especially the Governor's Office, the Continuity of Operations Plans (COOP), a plan for each key state department or agency of the Executive Branch to continue to provide services in a different location when required, the Logistics Response Plan which spells out reception, handling and distribution of resources during an emergency, the State Mitigation Plan which plans to reduce or eliminate the effects of hazards, and the State Recovery Plan which provides a roadmap to returning to normal from a disaster. There are many other plans, SOPs and operations guides that are driven from the PEM Branch, updated and improved on a weekly, monthly or annual basis to better prepare for any eventuality. This branch also plans for exercises to test the plans that have been prepared. The PEM Branch prepares the State Mitigation Plan and administers the actions for implementing many mitigation grants, and it writes plans that include mitigation considerations. Analysis of hazards and risks is another of the many functions of the PEM Branch.

The Exercises element of this branch is responsible for the provision of preparation, integration and implementation of exercises, often including evaluation tasks and corrective actions. Collecting the after action reports, performing corrective action plans and monitoring the complete implementation of corrective actions is an integral part of the PEM Branch. The exercises element provides oversight of the required exercises established by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and FEMA. NIMS standards require periodic exercises to deal with threats which are identified for the jurisdiction, so this branch manages the periodic schedule for these requirements. Coordination of contractors is another implied task for the branch since contractors may be utilized to help implement larger exercises.

Training Branch: The Training Branch of four personnel is responsible for the training the emergency management professionals in TEMA, as well as hundreds of other responders throughout the state and county governments who must respond to emergencies and assist in the recovery. Their task is more daunting in that they must utilize experience of field personnel to provide the instructor cadre which requires much coordination and logistical effort. The Training Branch is an even more critical arm of the agency since an executive order places the training and certification of hazardous materials response in the care of TEMA. The credentialed instructors guided by the Training Branch have already trained thousands of persons in Tennessee over the past few years raising the preparedness of the state to an unprecedented level. Training is also responsible for training the emergency management team in the state in the National Incident Management System (NIMS), to train TEMA members in internal training standards (TEMA 101) and emergency service coordinators to legal standards (ESC 101). TEMA issues identification cards to validate training qualification for teams, especially those HAZMAT teams required to perform to a higher standard by OSHA (29 CFR 1910).  Trainers from local jurisdiction departments or agencies often assist this branch to add to its capabilities.

Grants and Programs Branch: The Grants and Programs Branch is responsible for grants and contracts in the agency and many programs which execute contracts and grants. This branch oversees federal disaster funds for catastrophes, to include individual and public assistance. The Grants and Programs Branch manages fiscal actions for grants of the Tennessee Office of Homeland Security, US DHS Homeland Security terrorism grants and hazardous materials grants, the FEMA Emergency Management Performance Grant program, FEMA Wildfire Grants, FEMA Disaster Recovery Initiative funds, funding from the Tennessee Valley Authority, funding from the Department of Energy, funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation for hazard mitigation, funding from the Department of Justice for anti-terrorism, and Southern States Energy Board funds for energy-saving and environmental protection. This branch provides oversight of the National Flood Insurance Program grant interface and provides information regarding other insurance programs. The programs element has a significant mission in coordinating the initiation of recovery actions for public assistance and other criteria to meet disaster declaration requirements. The Mitigation element is assigned to the study and handling of mitigation actions and grants which may encourage the use of appropriate guidance and funds. The Mitigation element identifies new or changing threats and reduce the damage where possible. This section plays a strong role in the transition of short-term recovery to long-term recovery in a disaster and works closely with the federal joint field office to speed the return to normal.Members of this branch may form state elements of the FEMA Joint (Disaster) Field Office (JFO) Recovery Task Force. The Grants and Programs Branch has 13 persons assigned to ensure contracts and grant assurance and program reliability.

Agency Support Branch: The Agency Support Branch provides life support for the agency and handles purchases and acquisitions. The Agency Support Branch includes the information technology elements of the agency, consisting of six persons, who provide software, hardware and systems support for internet and other computer utilization. Agency Support Branch manages the facilities and grounds, vehicle fleet, support equipment of the agency and performs corrective actions to ensure a safe workplace. Agency Support Branch often interfaces with the agency's volunteer and donations program to coordinate logistics and community support issues. These responsibilities include the establishment of relationships with various commercial, private and non-profit organizations and educating them on the state's emergency management program and the role each plays during a disaster. Agency Support Branch coordinates processes where community support is organized and ready to assist the State during disasters or other emergency situations. The Agency Support Branch consists of 9 personnel to perform logistics, IT, facilities care and security and other support activities.

Operations Information

Operations and Communications Branch

The Operations and Communications Branch includes the major functions that serve as the heartbeat of the agency, i.e., those functions that actually provide the underlying support that allows the remainder of the agency to work. The Operations Watchpoint Section receives the notice of emergencies and takes the responsibility to notify the appropriate response elements.

Operations Watchpoint Section - The Operations Center is the central point to receive all emergency warning, communications and response requests in Tennessee 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It is normally staffed with at least 2 operations officers who coordinate support of missions reported by county agencies or other sources. Tornadoes, severe weather, flash floods, earthquakes, hazardous materials accidents and civil emergencies are just a few of the natural and technological hazards coordinated as incidents and missions through the Operations office. TEMA responds to local emergencies when the crisis requires assistance that is not available to the county or municipality. Operations officers coordinate incidents and missions with numerous state, local, private sector and research organizations to obtain requested help. The Operations Center utilizes a redundant statewide communications system which includes high band and 800 MHz repeater systems to supplement telephone lines. State and federal NAWAS or National Warning System communications, direct line or ring-down phones, satellite phones and an amateur radio station are all used to ensure TEMA can communicate with 24 hour warning points in the counties under almost any circumstances. "Operations" is commonly known throughout Tennessee, from state and local government agencies to private sector industry, as the 9-1-1 of state government.

Communications Section - This section is responsible for installing and maintaining a statewide wireless radio system that provides direct, instant communications from the State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC) to response personnel in the field. The Communications Section also supports agency telephone lines (hardwire) to support one of the principle means of communication. The communications systems ensure communications to local government emergency operations centers (EOC) for warning and command and control during emergency situations. Additionally, the radio systems provide for mobile and portable communications for various state agencies Emergency Services Coordinators (ESC) who do not have their own inherent agency communications capabilities. The telecommunications element is responsible for overseeing the billing of telephone services to the agency by BellSouth, Qwest, Verizon, and others. TEMA operates some 800+ telephone lines and high-speed data circuits, including many dedicated circuits to TVA and DOE risk counties. Additionally, this office coordinates activities related to the cellular phones and pagers used by agency staff.

 Preparing for an Emergency Mission

When the Operations Watchpoint receives a request for assistance from a county or municipality, the operations officers will refer the incident to the state on call officer. An on call officer is a senior emergency manager in TEMA who is on a duty roster to quickly make decisions regarding how to direct the request. The agency director appoints a select group of highly qualified senior emergency managers in the agency to fill this duty. The duty on call officer must be available 24 hours a day to take charge of coordinating the state's response to the emergency. The SEOC becomes the staff of a direction and control officer (who usually transitions from duty on call officer) coordinating the assets of the state to save lives, property and the environment. The DACO is appointed by the TEMA Director.

State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC)

The SEOC in Tennessee was built with state and federal funds as a state of the art communications and information technology coordination center. The facility establishes a central focus for the state’s efforts in supporting the response and recovery effort to major emergencies and catastrophic disaster. The SEOC effectively collects and disseminates disaster information and guides the most efficient response or recovery effort in support of the local emergency management agency. The SEOC is a technically a geographic location in Nashville, but the term also describes the team activated for crises.

The SEOC serves as the emergency staff to the Governor to control the state’s response and recovery and to ensure implementation of the Governor’s orders in protecting lives and property. Often, the Governor will move to the SEOC to obtain instantaneous information and communication.  Press releases and guidance to the public will originate from the SEOC, usually with representatives from the Governor’s staff operating as an integral part of the SEOC team. Activation Level 1 is for the most serious threat possible. Although not an initial activation level, Level 4 shows the advance preparation stage for a possible emergency. After an emergency this level may be used to describe a technical continuation of the emergency while the staff is being reduced, demobilization is taking place or recovery requires special rules to continue. The SEOC is alerted and activated with the decision to implement the Tennessee Emergency Management Plan, a pre-approved executive order, automatically declaring a state of emergency under law. The TEMA director activates the SEOC at Level 3, calling in those key persons needed to manage the crisis. Higher levels, which also declare a state of emergency, are implemented the same way: Level 2 is a full activation of all pre-designated members of the SEOC who report to handle emergency response to a major emergency. Level 1 is a full activation for a catastrophic disaster having immediate military presence (TCA 58-2-101), often with military commanders taking immediate action to save lives.. Level 5, normal operation, returns the SEOC to non-emergency status. 

When notified of an incident or notified of the request of a mayor, the State On-Call Officer, an experienced emergency manager on duty at TEMA, performs a rapid review of available information and seeks to find resources to aid the county. When the situation is determined to be a major emergency or likely to become one, the On-Call recommends activation of the SEOC. The TEMA director after conferring with the Governor may activate the SEOC. A state emergency is automatically declared when the SEOC is activated. Alternatively, the Governor may declare an emergency by proclamation or alter or extend it through proclamation or executive order. A declaration of emergency remains in effect for 60 days unless terminated earlier or extended by the Governor. When the SEOC activates at Level 3 or higher, the On-Call Officer, depending upon expertise, may be appointed as the Direction and Coordinating Officer (DACO) and placed in charge of the SEOC.

Led by the DACO, the SEOC staff is tailored for the unique requirements of each emergency. Each activation results in a “battle-staff assigned” cadre of TEMA specialists and key representatives from the state’s executive departments, state agencies and liaisons from federal or private agencies or organizations with a role in the emergency. A typical SEOC will start with 15-30 persons, but may increase to over 80 based upon size of the emergency and the need for expertise or resource coordination. Members of the SEOC who are emergency service coordinators have legal authority to act on behalf of their commissioner or director to assign personnel and resources.

Cross-coordination is essential so that all positions are equally informed on decisions and plan intentions. Not only at state level, but at local level the EOC serves as the best location to effectively collect and disseminate disaster information. Local EOCs report essential information to and exchange data with the SEOC to achieve the most efficient response and recovery.