Emergency Management

If Officials Order Shelter-In-Place Protection During A Hazardous Materials Emergency

Public safety officials will tell you if shelter-in-place protection is ordered by using the means described in the evacuation section. If you are told to shelter-in-place, you should take the following actions.

  • Stay Calm
  • Go indoors. Take your family and pets inside your home or other shelter. Any building suitable for use during winter is safe for shelter-in-place protection.
  • Close all windows and outside doors.
  • Turn off heating and air conditioning systems, fans, vents and any systems which bring in outside air. Close vents and fireplace flues/dampers.
  • Go to the highest level above ground (NOT YOUR BASEMENT) and move to a central room that is windowless or with the fewest windows and doors.
  • Take your Emergency Supplies Kit including a portable radio with you to this room.
  • Seal the inside door of the room with tape and place damp towels across the bottom of it. Use plastic and duct tape to seal all windows, exhaust fans, vents, electric and cable outlets, heat/AC registers, and any other outside openings.
  • Use the phone for emergency calls only.
  • Stay tuned to television or radio EAS stations for updated information and instructions.
  • When local authorities announce the end of the emergency, ventilate your home by opening doors and windows and go outside for a while.

What the heck is TERC?

Disasters disrupt hundreds of thousands of lives every year.

Each disaster has lasting effects—people are seriously injured, some are killed, and property damage runs into the billions of dollars. Numerous events can be an "emergency," including: tornado, fire, winter storm, hazardous materials spill/incident, meth lab, biological/chemical, flood or flash flood, communications failure, radiological accident, civil disturbance, explosion, terrorism incidents, and others. But business and communities can limit injuries and damages and return more quickly if they plan ahead. Some positive aspects of preparedness are that:

  • It helps the Tribe fulfill their responsibility to protect community members, employees and guests as well as the environment.
  • It facilitates compliance with regulatory requirements.
  • It enhances the Tribe's ability to recover from financial losses, regulatory fines, damage to equipment, products or business interruption.
  • It reduces exposure to civil or criminal liability in the event of an incident.
  • It enhances the Tribe's image and credibility with employee, customers, suppliers and local communities.

That's where Emergency Management comes in.

Emergency Management is part of a federal program. After 9/11, President Bush signed the Homeland Security Act, which established the cabinet Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Disaster preparedness was a substantial part of this department. As required by the directive, DHS released the National Incident Management System (NIMS) in 2004. NIMS was developed so responders from different jurisdictions and disciplines can work together better to respond to natural disasters and emergencies, including acts of terrorism.

Michael LaPointe is the Tribal Emergency Management Coordinator. He is the Tribe's point person, making sure St. Croix is in compliance with NIMS at all times (in order to keep St. Croix eligible for related federal monies). LaPointe is responsible for establishing the Tribe's Emergency Management initiative – a difficult, unprecedented task. He coordinates the Grant and Tribal Emergency Response Committee (TERC) planning activities, meetings, compliance documents and coordinates trainings, exercises, etc., and has been helping the Tribe draft a Hazard Mitigation Plan through the Federal Emergency Management Agency and Wisconsin Emergency Management since June of last year.

As part of the plan, the Tribe formed TERC before hiring the Emergency Management Coordinator. It soon became apparent that there was a lot of work to do even for a great group of minds! TERC is comprised of Upper Management, Finance, Human Resources, Maintenance, Planning, Safety, Public Information Officer, Legal, Clinic, Tribal Police Department, Hertel Fire Department, St. Croix Enterprises, Construction, and Safety Officers from the Casinos. It was important to get representation from all of these business areas and from top management because these TERC representatives will be the first people called to the Emergency Operations Center if the Tribe ever experiences an emergency! The TERC group collects information and collaborates on developing the Hazard Mitigation Plan. Once the plan has been written, the plans will be implemented and tested regularly, and improvements will be made as necessary.

What Is Emergency Management?

Emergency Management is a coordinated response to an unusual emergency situation. A response that calls for maximum use of community resources, with far greater need for coordination between response agencies than usually exists.

Emergency Management is a vital link in a network of services, which makes it possible for natural disasters and large-scale emergencies to be mitigated and dealt with effectively. The job of this department is to assist in all natural and man made disasters and in situations when a Tribal Entity has exhausted its immediately available local and mutual aid resources, when there is a potential for long range or immediate danger to life or property.

Providing assistance to St. Croix Tribal residents in the following disaster situations:

  • Tornadoes
  • Highway Accidents
  • Rail Accidents
  • Terrorism
  • Chemical Spills
  • High Damaging Winds
  • Floods
  • Forest Fires

Disasters Can Happen Anytime, Anywhere... Disaster Preparedness Begins with You!!!

If a disaster would strike our Tribal Communities, it could be days before help arrives and basic services are restored. Would you and your family be ready if that happened? Unfortunately, most households aren't prepared even for routine water main breaks and weather-related power outages that leave us without utilities for two or three days. The St. Croix Tribal Emergency Management Coordinator along with the emergency response community strongly urges every household to prepare to get along for 72 hours following an emergency with no assistance. This website provides information to the St. Croix Tribal Communities to better prepare themselves for disasters.

Be Informed about Natural Disasters

What is Emergency Management?

Emergency Management has grown out of the "old" Civil Defense days of the 1950's. Changes to federal and state laws have brought new concepts and responsibilities to the office including consideration and planning for all hazards.

In the late 1980's the implementation of the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act created a repository for documenting the storage of hazardous materials in the community. In conjunction with these laws the Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC) was formed to help identify priorities and provide oversight to local emergency planning. Most recently Homeland Security issues have become an additional focus for planning activities and resource development.

St. Croix Tribal Emergency Management utilizes planning, training and coordination to continually develop mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery capabilities of the County's cities, towns, tribes and villages. These four phases of emergency management are intended to identify and coordinate available resources to deal with emergencies effectively, thereby saving lives, avoiding injury and minimizing economic loss.


Mitigation activities are those which actually eliminate or reduce the chance of occurrence or the effects of a disaster.

Examples Of Mitigation Strategies:

  • Floodplain Management Ordinances
  • Building Inspection, Fire Inspection
  • Prevention and Preparedness programs
  • Detention basins and Storm water management plans
  • Hazard and Vulnerability Analysis


Response means the coordinated actions taken during or immediately following a natural or technological disaster, when essential utilities and supply sources are disrupted, major damage has occurred to public and private property, and injuries or deaths may have been inflicted.

All emergencies must be managed during the response phase by using an Incident Command structure that efficiently procures and employs all the resources needed to effectively manage the situation. Each emergency is different and requires a comprehensive assessment of resources available and the flexibility to mobilize them quickly.

Examples Of Response Capabilities:

  • Fire Suppression
  • Evacuation
  • Scene Security
  • Damage Assessment
  • Search and Rescue
  • Debris Clearance


Preparedness means planning for emergency operations, identifying available resources which can be tapped during a disaster, ensuring training, and practicing plans through exercises.

Examples Of Preparedness Techniques:

  • Public Education
  • Training and drills
  • Plan development and revision
  • Resource inventory
  • Inter-jurisdictional communication


Recovery means the restoration of all systems to normal or near-normal condition. Long-term recovery from a disaster may go on for years until the entire disaster area is completely redeveloped, either as it was in the past or for an entirely new purpose which is less vulnerable to disaster.

Examples Of Recovery Tactics:

  • Developing recovery plans
  • Restoration of utilities, roads, and government services
  • Damage Assessment
  • Action plans

What is Sheltering-in-Place?

"Shelter-in-place" means to take immediate shelter where you are—at home, work, school or in between—usually for just a few hours. Local authorities may instruct you to "shelter-in-place" if biological, chemical or radiological contaminants are released into the environment or if there is a large scale infectious disease outbreak. Click here for more information on Sheltering in Place.

What is Evacuation?

During an emergency or disaster, individuals may be asked to temporarily leave their home or business during a natural or man-made disaster that possesses the potential to cause harm or even death to a given geographical population. Evacuations are usually temporarily, lasting sometimes a few hours to a few days.

Where can I get information about disasters and emergencies?

During an emergency or disaster, individuals will be updated on the situation of the incident including any instructions that individuals should take, such as to shelter-in-place or evacuate, through a variety of means.

Television: Although, television is a great resource for receiving information, the Tribe relies heavily on the Twin Cities market hence information may not be as readily available as you'd like for Polk County area.

Newspaper: The Twin Cities area does have daily newspapers and will likely provide daily information on the incident.

Radio: Radio will likely be the best source of receiving information on a local incident. The following are local radio stations:


Visit the What's New section of our web site for updated information about emergency planning tips and events.