RAPID CITY –When the Great Plains Tribal Leaders’ Health Board first received funding from the CDC to establish an Emergency Operations and Training Center, many wondered what the final version of that vision would become. Nearly a year later, the We Are Warriors EOC is fulfilling its original mission to improve tribal emergency readiness across the Great Plains.
Last week, nearly 200 people from 6 different states and multiple tribal-nations participated in the first-ever We Are Warriors Emergency Operations Center Virtual Conference. The conference brought together emergency management experts, tribal-emergency managers, public health experts, FEMA, philanthropical organizations, and community members together in one virtual space.
“The conference was a tremendous success. Participants gained access to emergency readiness experts who willingly shared their experiences and knowledge,” said Annie Loyd, Emergency Manager and a public health consultant with GPTLHB, who helped to stand up the We Are Warriors EOC. “We are extremely grateful to be in a position where we can provide a forum that illuminates the depth of knowledge within the Great Plains tribal-nations and emphasizes the importance of consultation when evaluating community preparedness. All of these actions allow us to perform our best to help others when the time comes,” added Loyd.
Topics included on the agenda were networking, food distribution, and developing and maintaining resource supply chains. The event also helped build a communication bridge between locally based tribal emergency managers and state and federal officials.
“The GPTLHB was honored to host this event. The COVID-19 pandemic has spotlighted the importance of disaster preparedness and the value of those who are willing to stand on the front lines to protect our communities. We appreciate their willingness to share their knowledge and experiences with all of us,” said GPTLHB CEO Jerilyn Church.
The CDC says an Emergency Operations Center brings together “highly trained experts and state-of-the-art technology to coordinate resources, information, and crisis and emergency communications to strengthen (a) nation’s ability to detect and respond to public health threats.”
Over the last decade, tribal communities on the Great Plains have worked to establish their emergency operations centers so that they can adequately respond to disasters of all kinds. The rurality of many tribal communities puts them at significant risk when weather-related disasters strike. The establishment of locally based emergency operations centers helps get resources into the hands of those who need them.
“The conference explored the experiences and lessons learned by policy experts from across the region with the goal to find ways to better respond to emergencies in tribal communities. This event was a major success and featured experts on everything from operating a tribally focused Resource Supply Chain, Indigenous Food Sovereignty initiatives, and even how behavioral health issues relate to preparedness,” We Are Warriors EOC Director Brenna Lanoue. Sometimes we forget how robust the network of compassionate, dedicated, and committed individuals is in our area is; this conference reminded me that the helpers are everywhere and doing amazing work”
The We Are Warriors EOC is meant to serve as a regional hub that could assist reservation-based centers with communication, resource, and coordination support and training. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, it has worked closely with tribal emergency managers daily. This vital relationship has helped to deliver life-saving resources to those in need.
FEMA Region VIII Tribal
FEMA Region VII,
South Dakota Office of Emergency Management TBD,
ND Office of Emergency Management
NE Office of Emergency Management
IA Office of Emergency Management,
SD VOAD Red Cross NE & IA
Presbyterian Disaster Services
Red Cross Region
Center for Disaster Philanthropy
CDC Foundation Data Challenges
Where All Women Are Honored – Shelter Services Homeless
GPTLHB Native Connections Team Crow Creek
GPTLHB Connecting With Our Youth (CWOY)/ Native Community Response Team Shift 7
Nebraska Preparedness Partnership
Woyatan Native Food Bank
OST Emergency Operations
Native Supply Chain
Oyate Health Center