The Montana DES Response Branch is charged with coordinating operational response at the state level for any incident, emergency, or disaster that exceeds the capabilities of the local jurisdiction. Support for incidents can include deployment of resources, incident management assistance, technical assistance, and the deployment of Montana DES District Field Officers as Agency Representatives. Through mutual aid agreements, memorandums of understanding, and other protocols and authorities, aid can be requested from other states, federal partners, and other nations, as well as Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOADS). The primary document for guiding state response is the Montana Emergency Response Framework (MERF).

The Response Branch maintains a 24-hour duty Officer Program, which is the initial point of contact for jurisdictions seeking assistance or reporting an incident. Based on the size and complexity of an incident, the Response Branch may elect to activate the State Emergency Coordination Center (SECC), which is located at Fort Harrison, Montana. In addition, the Response Branch maintains a full-time Logistics Section Chief and two Response Coordinators.

The State Emergency Coordination Center is managed with a NIMS/ICS model that incorporates Operations, Planning, Finance/Admin, and Logistic Sections. As an incident grows in scale or complexity, the SECC organizational structure may grow as additional functions are activated, such as a Public Works Group under Operations.

Other responsibilities of the Response Branch include:

  • Maintaining day-to-day situational awareness of any incidents that may significantly affect the state such as severe weather or wildfires.
  • Coordination of National Guard assistance for any civil emergency or disaster.
  • Preparing draft executive orders for disasters and emergency for review by the Office of the Governor.
  • Administration of the Search & Rescue Reimbursement Program.

Response News

Response Programs

The Emergency Alert System (EAS) is a national public warning system that requires broadcasters, cable television systems, wireless cable systems, satellite digital audio radio service (SDARS) providers, and direct broadcast satellite (DBS) providers to provide the communications capability to the President to address the American public during a national emergency. The system also may be used by state and local authorities to deliver important emergency information, such as AMBER alerts and weather information targeted to specific areas.

The FCC, in conjunction with Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Weather Service (NWS), implements the EAS at the federal level. The President has sole responsibility for determining when the EAS will be activated at the national level, and has delegated this authority to the director of FEMA. FEMA is responsible for implementation of the national-level activation of the EAS, tests, and exercises. The NWS develops emergency weather information to alert the public about imminent dangerous weather conditions.

The FCC's role includes prescribing rules that establish technical standards for the EAS, procedures for EAS participants to follow in the event The EAS is activated, and EAS testing protocols. Additionally, the FCC ensures that the EAS state and local plans developed by industry conform to FCC EAS rules and regulations.

Click Here to Download and View the Montana EAS plan

Emergency Management Assistance Compact

EMAC is the nation’s all hazard national mutual aid system ratified by U.S. Congress (PL 104-321) and is law in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands and the Northern Mariana Islands. EMAC is codified in Montana Coded Annotated 10-3-1001, 10-3-1002, and 10-3-1003.  Through EMAC, states can share resources from all disciplines, protect personnel who deploy, and be reimbursed for mission related costs. The nation’s most efficient, scalable and flexible mutual aid system is implemented in Montana by Disaster and Emergency Services on behalf of the Governor.  This provides a consistent and coordinated response across the nation.  EMAC offers assistance during governor-declared states of emergency or disaster through a responsive, straightforward system that allows states to send personnel, equipment, and commodities to assist with response and recovery efforts in other states.

 The strength of EMAC and the quality that distinguishes it from other plans and compacts lie in its governance structure; its relationship with federal agencies, national organizations, states, counties, territories, and regions; the willingness of state and response and recovery personnel to deploy; and the ability to move any resource one state wishes to utilize to assist another state.

Emergency Management Assistance Compact Website

“There is an account in the state special revenue fund established in 17-2-102. The account must be administered by the Disaster and Emergency Services Division of the Department of Military Affairs exclusively for the purposes of search and rescue as provided in this section. The funds are used by Disaster and Emergency Services to defray the costs of local search and rescue units for search and rescue missions conducted through a county sheriff's office at a maximum of $12,000 for each rescue mission, regardless of the number of counties or county search and rescue organizations involved. The remaining money in the account may be used by Disaster and Emergency Services Division for reimbursement of expenses related to the training of search and rescue volunteers, and to match local funds for the purchase of equipment for use by local search and rescue units at a maximum of $12,000 for each unit in a calendar year. The cost-sharing match must be 35% local funds to 65% from the account.”

Effective March 1, 2022

  • The maximum reimbursement for Search and Rescue missions will increase to $50,000, regardless of the number of counties or county search and rescue organizations involved.
  • For equipment purchases, the amount of money available to each Search and Rescue organization will increase to $50,000 per calendar year. The cost-sharing match must be 35% local funds to 65% from the account

Search and Rescue Reimbursement Resources

Search and Rescue Mission Reimbursement Form (Effective March 1, 2022) 

Search and Rescue Equipment Reimbursement Form (Effective March 1, 2022) 

Search and Rescue Training Reimbursement Form (Effective July 1, 2021) 

House Bill 678 Regarding Search and Rescue Funding (Effective July 1, 2021)