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National Incident Management System: Mutual Aid

your department enter into effective mutual aid agreements that enhance and ensure you can sustain operations.

Most jurisdictions or organizations do not have resource levels to handle extreme events on their own. A mutual aid agreement is a tool you can use to enhance your resources during a high-demand incident. The National Incident Management System guideline for mutual aid helps with mutual aid planning and shows how to create legal agreements that include common practices and processes.

What a mutual aid agreement does

Mutual aid agreements establish the terms under which one party provides resources — personnel, teams, facilities, equipment and supplies — to another party. They can support all mission areas; they can be established before, during or after incidents; and they can be between all levels of government, nongovernmental organizations and the private sector.

Mutual aid planning

Your community risk assessment will identify potential shortfalls and capability gaps that a mutual aid agreement can help address. Before your organization decides to enter into a mutual aid agreement, be sure to:

  • Identify and type resources.
  • Inventory your resources.
  • Qualify, certify and credential personnel.
  • Plan for resources.

What to include in an agreement

Your mutual aid agreement should include:

  • Liability.
  • Compensation.
  • Reimbursement.
  • Credentialing and qualifications.
  • Licensure and certification.
  • Mobilization.
  • Operational support.

For more information about mutual aid and the National Mutual Aid System, visit