The University of New Mexico recently became an official National Intercollegiate Mutual Aid Agreement (NIMAA) member. The partnership allows UNM to utilize resources and knowledge available from other member colleges and universities in the Southwest Region, as well as other institutions nationally, in the event of a natural disaster, civil emergency, or in preparedness for other emergencies. Originating in 2015, NIMAA now consists of more than 125 signatory institutions across the nation.

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The mission of the International Association of Emergency Managers Universities & Colleges Caucus (IAEM-UCC) is to represent the emergency management issues surrounding college and university campuses. This caucus aims to provide emergency managers from higher education institutions a voice on a national and international scale to ensure their needs are also being addressed by government and industry officials.

“At UNM, we do our best to be prepared for any situation we might face. If, however, we find ourselves lacking specific resources during an incident, we now have access to institutions nationwide that may be able to assist,” said Byron Piatt, UNM director for Crisis Management and Preparedness. “Similarly, our preparedness efforts may be able to support another college or university in need. This network of support will be beneficial to all of us.”

According to the International Association of Emergency Managers (IAEM), most colleges and universities need more staffing and resources to address significant emergencies adequately and independently. Furthermore, numerous mutual aid systems restrict participation to public or private institutions, often imposing location-based limitations. In contrast, NIMAA welcomes any college or university willing to collaborate, transcending barriers by connecting institutions irrespective of their type, size, or location.

In 2014, a workgroup of UCC members researched and developed a mutual aid process for colleges and universities to share resources across the United States. By summer 2015, the process led to the development of what is now known as the National Intercollegiate Mutual Aid Agreement.

Also, in 2014, IAEM UCC surveyed public and private institutes of higher education across the United States. Over half (52%) of the respondents acknowledged their institution has participated in receiving or providing intercollegiate or other mutual aid in the past. Furthermore, 81% stated their organization currently engages in a mutual aid agreement.

These results demonstrate that colleges and universities are integral to their communities and cannot “go it alone” when critical incidents occur. External assistance is essential to the nationwide safety, security, recovery and restoration of college campuses.

Like other mutual aid agreements, the NIMAA is a source for providing and receiving assistance. Participating in multiple agreements offers higher education institutions flexibility when evaluating the most effective and efficient means of obtaining resources during an emergency.

Members of NIMAA are eligible to receive outreach and training opportunities through the Agreement, in addition to drills and exercises for campus emergency management teams. Past emergencies that inspired the creation of NIMAA include destructive hurricanes such as Irma, Florence and Michael, attacks like the Virginia Tech mass shooting in 2007 and meningitis outbreaks between 2013 and 2017.

For more information, visit the International Association of Emergency Managers.