How does MAC Group Work?

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When a large, cooperative multi-agency decision is needed to be made, the MAC Group is used by all members of the group. This group uses a non-hierarchical structure that functions in three steps: consensus, decision and implementation.

This process provides all members of the group with equal agency, prevents one member from monopolizing decisions or implementing unilateral solutions and allows each member to participate in decision making while acting independently within their own regionally defined sphere of work. Additionally it allows for decisions on which member can implement something to be made when those commitments are too numerous to submit them all at once.

The MAC Group is an evolution of the pre-existing multi agency task force and was created in 2012 by a group of municipal emergency personnel who recognized that the pre-existing system was not working effectively because local authorities were not adequately involved.

The group is based on a combination of the LAPD’s Major Incident Taskforce and the 2011 NIMS Concept of Operations for Multi-Agency Coordination being used by FEMA to help communities become compliant with NIMS.

Which NIMS structure makes cooperative multi-agency decisions?

The 2011 NIMS Concept of Operations for Multi-Agency Coordination is used to get a group together. This document is used by FEMA, local/state/federal agencies and the private sector in order to plan and implement multi-agency responses to disaster or emergency situations.

 It provides a comprehensive method of coordinating behaviors and actions during a disaster or emergency response by utilizing a trained team of specialists and volunteers. The NIMS concept emphasizes cooperation amongst all personnel involved in an incident, including the public (including first responders) as well as those professionals who have been called upon to respond. 

  • The MAC Group is a regional, multi-discipline, multi-agency group that is used when a number of agencies need to work cooperatively together to decide on the best and most appropriate course of action. 
  • This method is also referred to as “consensus decision making”. This process provides all members of the group with equal agency, prevents one member from monopolizing decisions or implementing unilateral solutions and allows each member to participate in decision making while acting independently within their own regionally defined sphere of work

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  •  Additionally it allows for decisions on which members can implement something to be made when those commitments are too numerous to submit them all at once.

1. Planning.

When the MAC Group is first formed, a planning team is typically created to help organize a broader planning process and develop potential plans. In addition to the agencies who will make up the MAC Group, members of the planning team would typically include representatives from any supporting organizations or other parties who would be affected by the situation (e.g., hospital administrators, local government leaders, fire department representatives, utility companies). Priorities are established and plans are developed which include:

• Primary Mission – 

The primary mission of this group is to build cooperative relationships between diverse disciplines and agencies in order to create effective solutions for problem solving during an emergency.

2. Collaboration and Decision.

A collaborative problem solving team will take the planning team’s ideas and begin developing a plan to include the objectives of all agency participants. If a plan is unable to be developed within a specified time frame, the group may decide that all agencies should work together in planning jointly on an indefinite basis and still meet the agreed upon objectives of this group.

The group decides whether a plan is implemented; if so, implementation teams are selected who will actually implement the plans developed by their respective agencies. If no implementation team is selected, that agency can request that one be created at any time they deem necessary by submitting details of their plan (e.g., goals, resources, management structure).

3. Implementation.

Once a plan is approved, it is implemented by the appropriate implementation team and everyone involved in the decision making process will follow through with their end of the agreement. Agencies are expected to follow through on their commitments and fulfill any obligations they have made.

 If an agency cannot fulfill an obligation, they may request assistance from another agency who can assist with fulfilling that obligation.The MAC Group meets once every two weeks where new ideas are discussed and changes to existing plans can be made if necessary. 

This allows for each member to work towards meeting their assigned objectives without being tied down by having to implement them simultaneously or at the same time as other agencies do so in areas of expertise not within their responsibility.

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