The Federal Emergency Management Agency states that mutual aid agreements and assistance agreements provide a mechanism to acquire emergency assistance quickly in the form of materials, equipment, personnel and other relevant services. The agreements are between organizations, agencies and jurisdictions.
FEMA explains that the main objective of mutual aid and assistance agreements is to provide fast, short-term emergency support prior to, during and after an event. For example, the Emergency Management Assistance Compact is an interstate mutual aid agreement that enables states to help each other in responding to all types of natural and man-made disasters.
According to the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, assistance agreements usually involve pre-existing agreements, such as the EMAC, or require creating new instruments to deal with emerging events or parties outside of current compacts. The laws of a state governs the formation and operation of mutual aid arrangements, depending on the agreement’s nature and extent. The ASTHO further explains that mutual aid agreements exist at different government levels, such as between state or local agencies, between a state and localities within the state, between two or more states, between states and tribes, and between international states. They also occur among various organizational types, such as governments, private businesses and non-profit organizations.