The Southwest Council of Governments recognized that there are emergency incidents where the rapid deployment of specially trained and equipped response teams can provide a better likelihood of a favorable outcome. It was also determined that the most cost-efficient means to meet that need was by combining regional assets. Initially, the hazardous materials team was created to provide a regional solution to hazardous materials response. Based on that success the Southwest Council of Governments agreed to create Southwest Emergency Response Teams (SERT). In addition to the regional HazMat team, specialized water and land based rescue teams, a fire investigation unit, and a tactical EMS team were created.
SERT’S Mission is to combine shared regional resources in the event that specialized teams are needed during an emergency incident. Those resources include highly trained individuals and specialized equipment to mitigate those incidents which require technical rescue and /or HazMat capabilities to ensure public safety and/or limit damage to life, property and the environment. SERT functions as a branch of the local incident command system to give the incident commander of a member community the expert resources needed to assist in bringing an incident to a successful conclusion.