What the heck is TERC?

Disasters disrupt hundreds of thousands of lives every year.

Each disaster has lasting effects—people are seriously injured, some are killed, and property damage runs into the billions of dollars. Numerous events can be an "emergency," including: tornado, fire, winter storm, hazardous materials spill/incident, meth lab, biological/chemical, flood or flash flood, communications failure, radiological accident, civil disturbance, explosion, terrorism incidents, and others. But business and communities can limit injuries and damages and return more quickly if they plan ahead. Some positive aspects of preparedness are that:

  • It helps the Tribe fulfill their responsibility to protect community members, employees and guests as well as the environment.
  • It facilitates compliance with regulatory requirements.
  • It enhances the Tribe's ability to recover from financial losses, regulatory fines, damage to equipment, products or business interruption.
  • It reduces exposure to civil or criminal liability in the event of an incident.
  • It enhances the Tribe's image and credibility with employee, customers, suppliers and local communities.

That's where Emergency Management comes in.

Emergency Management is part of a federal program. After 9/11, President Bush signed the Homeland Security Act, which established the cabinet Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Disaster preparedness was a substantial part of this department. As required by the directive, DHS released the National Incident Management System (NIMS) in 2004. NIMS was developed so responders from different jurisdictions and disciplines can work together better to respond to natural disasters and emergencies, including acts of terrorism.

Michael LaPointe is the Tribal Emergency Management Coordinator. He is the Tribe's point person, making sure St. Croix is in compliance with NIMS at all times (in order to keep St. Croix eligible for related federal monies). LaPointe is responsible for establishing the Tribe's Emergency Management initiative – a difficult, unprecedented task. He coordinates the Grant and Tribal Emergency Response Committee (TERC) planning activities, meetings, compliance documents and coordinates trainings, exercises, etc., and has been helping the Tribe draft a Hazard Mitigation Plan through the Federal Emergency Management Agency and Wisconsin Emergency Management since June of last year.

As part of the plan, the Tribe formed TERC before hiring the Emergency Management Coordinator. It soon became apparent that there was a lot of work to do even for a great group of minds! TERC is comprised of Upper Management, Finance, Human Resources, Maintenance, Planning, Safety, Public Information Officer, Legal, Clinic, Tribal Police Department, Hertel Fire Department, St. Croix Enterprises, Construction, and Safety Officers from the Casinos. It was important to get representation from all of these business areas and from top management because these TERC representatives will be the first people called to the Emergency Operations Center if the Tribe ever experiences an emergency! The TERC group collects information and collaborates on developing the Hazard Mitigation Plan. Once the plan has been written, the plans will be implemented and tested regularly, and improvements will be made as necessary.