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Douglas County to consider statewide mutual aid agreement

The measure, which has been approved by 23 counties, would create a larger pool of agencies to respond when disaster strikes, officials say.

A CN train crosses a bridge over a flooded portion of County Highway Z south of Superior in 2017. The road was blocked for much of the day because of flooding in the wake of heavy rain. Bob King / rking@duluthnews.com
A CN train crosses a bridge over a flooded portion of County Highway Z south of Superior in 2017. With disasters coming more frequently, Wisconsin Emergency Management is creating a statewide compact for emergency management mutual aid.
File / Duluth News Tribune
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SUPERIOR — Douglas County is considering joining a statewide compact to provide mutual aid in an emergency.

The county's public safety committee on Thursday, July 28, approved participating in the Wisconsin Statewide Mutual Aid Compact for local emergency management assistance.

So far, 23 counties have signed onto the compact, said Andrew Beckett, spokesman for Wisconsin Emergency Management.

“Disasters across Wisconsin and the nation appear to get more extreme each year, whether it’s severe weather or other hazards,” said Dave Sletten, Douglas County’s emergency manager.
While Douglas County has had a mutual aid agreement for emergency management with surrounding counties for years, joining the statewide agreement would allow Douglas County to provide aid throughout the state if requested, Sletten said. It would also allow the county to capitalize on broader resources for an emergency affecting Douglas County.

Under the terms of the compact, any participating emergency management department can request assistance. The requested agency has the right to refuse assistance. Agencies that provide assistance can only be compensated for miles, meals and lodging. Time is not compensated. Responding agencies are limited to 72 hours of deployment unless extended by mutual agreement.

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The compact is for one year but renews automatically on a year-to-year basis unless members choose to terminate their participation. Ninety days written notice is required.

“It expands the pool of available resources to members of the compact because we’re drawing from a statewide pool then,” Beckett said. “There are frequently incidents in Wisconsin where multiple counties in the same region may be affected by the same type of disaster. A statewide agreement makes it easier for them to get assistance from outside their region, from other parts of the state that may not be directly impacted.”

The Douglas County Board will consider the agreement Aug. 18.

Shelley Nelson is a reporter with the Duluth Media Group since 1997, and has covered Superior and Douglas County communities and government for the Duluth News Tribune from 1999 to 2006, and the Superior Telegram since 2006. Contact her at 715-395-5022 or snelson@superiortelegram.com.
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