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.