Under most circumstances, response to emergencies is initiated at the local level with local resources the first to be committed. Use and coordination of resources and the management of the situation is a local public safety responsibility.
When several communities are affected, the County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) is involved. It coordinates information from its communities, arranges for assistance from within the county, and maintains emergency communications and reports data and requests for further assistance to the Maine Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) or the State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC) if activated. Counties/municipalities will use all county resources to protect against and respond to an emergency or threatening situation to include activating pre-established mutual aid agreements. The county EMA is also responsible for the central collection, organization, evaluation and documentation of situation and damage assessment data.
When it is determined that an emergency is beyond the control and resources of the county or local government, a request for assistance is made through EMA channels (i.e., county to state) to the Governor. He may declare that a state of emergency exists within certain or all parts of the state and make state resources available to save lives, protect property, and aid in disaster response and recovery. The state can also respond without a declaration of a state of emergency if readily available resources can meet the local need. The state of emergency declaration releases virtually all state resources and gives the Governor special powers to address the emergency conditions.