Ambassador Jennifer Zimdahl Galt’s Remarks at Incident Command System Training Launch at NEMA

AMBASSADOR GALT: Good morning every one, good morning.

Colonel Ganzorig, John Went, colleagues from across Mongolia from variety of different agencies, it is really an honor for me to be with you here this morning at the start of this very important training and to talk briefly about the difference that we know training like this can make.

Scientists say humans do not have instincts as such. As a non-scientist, I would like to disagree. As companionate human beings whenever disaster strikes the desire to help one another, I would argue, is second nature to all of us, and certainly to all of you here in this room.

As first responders, you understand this and share this compassion — but you also understand the need for first responders to come together and work in an organized, effective fashion so that your collective efforts truly help people in need.

This week that is why you will be training on the Incident Command System, the ICS as the Colonel Ganzorig has already introduced. ICS is a unified approach to emergency response and coordination –and its uniformity is the characteristic that has proven in practice that ICS saves lives.

Working in cooperation, two key components of the United States Government — U.S. Agency for International Development and the U.S. Forest Service — have helped more than 15 countries adapt ICS to their unique circumstances and strengthen their capacity to effectively respond to crises.

At its core, ICS is a management system. The basic principles of ICS are universal and enable all available local, regional and national responders to quickly collaborate in order to coordinate response efforts regardless of the particulars of an incident by providing a uniformly familiar and accepted blueprint for their interventions.

These principles allow ICS to, among other things:

– Address both the effects of dzud and drought;
– Fight both urban and grassland fires;
– Respond to industrial accidents;
– And provide assistance after storms.

You may have seen, over the weekend, news from the U.S., where the system may very well have been implied as a huge winter snow storm hit the northeast portion of the U.S.

Once firmly in place, ICS results in stronger coordination and communication, more strategic resource allocation, an enhanced safety environment for emergency responders, and ultimately an enhanced and increased ability to save lives.

But for ICS to be successful, it needs to be adopted at all levels of government and thoroughly understood by all stakeholders. As you know well, disasters are first and foremost local in nature and effective local-level engagement is most critical. That’s why I am so pleased to see representatives from every aimag in Mongolia here today.

We know it takes time for responders to adopt and become proficient on ICS. And to be effective, we look forward to working together to modify ICS to fit needs and resources that are specific to Mongolia — indeed, to create a Mongolian ICS.

Successful use of ICS demands steadfast commitment, which Mongolia has already shown by including ICS-consistent language on disaster management into relevant legislation. We are very pleased to see that.

And your attendance here clearly shows your own personal commitment to strengthening Mongolia’s disaster response capabilities.

So once again, it is a great privilege to be here today. I am honored to be here with you and to confirm to you the United States Government commitment to continuing to work with Mongolia for a stronger emergency response system.

Thank you very much for your participation and for including me here today.

Thank you.