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Military & Veterans' Issues

JBSA, San Antonio Officials Reach Pact To Better Deal With Emergency Situations

Carson Frame
Texas Public Radio
JBSA Commander Brig. Gen. Laura Lenderman, center, and San Antonio Fire Chief Charles Hood, on right, at a news conference on the disaster response agreement.

Updated at 5:23 p.m.

City Council approved an agreement with Joint Base San Antonio on Thursday to provide better coordination during a civil emergency or disaster. 

The agreement outlines cooperation protocols and cost-sharing between the San Antonio Office of Emergency Management and JBSA, said Juan Ayala, director of the city's Office of Military and Veteran Affairs.

"It has specific points of contact, chain of command, logistics, communications, compatibility of equipment — those types of things," he said. "The nuts and bolts of how to cooperate when you have agencies with different equipment and different tactics."

MORE | Draft of the mutual aid agreement

The agreement could apply during mass casualty situations, natural disasters, and incidents in which hazardous materials pose a threat to the community.

Ayala said recent news events underscore the importance of cooperation between local emergency responders and the military.

“It's very important, and we leverage each other's resources in case of any type of emergency,” he said. “That's going on right now with the fires in California. That went on during (Hurricane) Harvey. I think it's really important that we're prepared.”

San Antonio Fire Chief Charles Hood says he’s excited about the agreement and the example it sets for other defense communities.

"This basically is a template for the country to see how the interaction, the working relationship can be, between public safety entities and the military," he said. "…This will allow us to protect the citizens of San Antonio in a much more efficient way."

JBSA commander Brig. Gen. Laura Lenderman said that the mutual aid agreement had been in development since 2010.

“The agreement is history in the making,” she said. “It's taken about eight years — through trial and tribulation, through different commanders and reorganizations within the joint base — to get to this point. It's going to potentially save lives, save infrastructure, save dollars.”

For right now, the agreement only applies within the boundaries of the city, but Lenderman said there is an option to expand.

"To have that redundancy and the capability outside the fence line — or even in the surrounding counties — that's the next step," she said.

Carson Frame can be reached at carson@tpr.org or on Twitter @carson_frame