The Gila River Indian Community (GRIC) is a federally recognized Indian Tribe located in Pinal and Maricopa Counties in central Arizona bordering the Phoenix-metro region. Composed of seven political districts and two distinct tribes – the Pima and Maricopa – the current enrolled member population is 20,717 of which 13,000 live in the Community. Approximately 5,000 employees serve a land area (577 sq. miles/400,000 acres) larger than Phoenix. Significant terrorist and natural hazard risks are associated with GRIC’s topography and proximity to Phoenix and the Border.
GRIC is a rural desert with a number of improved residential sites, 3 industrial developments, 3 casinos, wild land/urban interface areas and numerous archeological sites of cultural and spiritual significance. There are over 20 miles of Interstate Highway, over 50 miles of State Highway, 3 industrial parks, farming operations, major power transmission lines, major liquid and natural gas transmission lines, an upscale Outlet Mall, 12 schools, 2 large hotels and a 4 star Resort.
An important part of emergency response is pre-planning. In conjunction with the Gila River Indian Community Office of Emergency Management, Division Chief Kevin Knight, Paramedic and his team consisting of Battalion Chief Patrick Peterson, Paramedic and Battalion Chief Mike Tremaine, EMT spend a great deal of time in planning for large scale Community events and all hazard incidents such as the following:
– Community All-Hazards Plan
– Government Buildings Emergency Plans
– Schools Emergency Plans
– Large scale events/concerts
– Large scale fairs
– Motorsports events
– Race events
– Grand openings
– Gubernatorial Inaugurations
– Super Bowl XLII
– Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl
– Super Bowl XLIX
Chief Knight also sits as the Gila River Indian Community Office of Emergency Management’s liaison for the following committees;
– All Hazards Planning
– Events Planning
– Mass Casualty/Fatality Planning
– Multi-Agency Coordination System (MACS)
– Public Health Emergency Preparedness (C-PHEP)
– Chemical Tribal Emergency Response Comm (C-TERC)
We are currently working towards providing qualified personnel for the Gila River Indian Community and surrounding tribes FEMA Type III All-Hazards Incident Management Team. This team will provide pre-planning and event management for large scale community events and also be qualified to assist other tribal nations in the event of a large scale incident on their homeland. We are the first of it’s kind and excited to be working towards this goal.
The GRIC Hazard Mitigation Plan identifies both severe weather (thunderstorms, monsoons, flash flooding, high temperatures and dust/sandstorms) and the threat of terrorism as likely. Rain is sparse in the Community; but influx of monsoon in the summer can cause heavy localized rain/flooding. These storms have also been responsible for “dust storms” that limit visibility leading to significant interstate accidents within the Community boundary and can cause significant damage to buildings.
The topography, remoteness, roadways, and the typical desert weather extremes in the summer and winter are the cause for natural hazard risks. Natural hazards and chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and explosive (CBRNE) threats are very likely in GRIC. Natural hazards have the potential of causing accidents that can cause CBRNE events.