The South Dakota Local Assistance State Team (SD-LAST) has 30+ members from across the state. Team membership is 100% volunteer. When requested, we will respond with only the personnel needed to meet the mission as directed from the requesting agency. Since our inception in 2017, the SD-LAST has been requested to assist on 6 separate occasions. Below is the full description from the National Fallen Firefighters Association about the Local Assistance State Team program.
The Local Assistance State Team (LAST) Program is a collaborative effort between the Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance and the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation. The foundation realized that to best assist families and departments who had lost a firefighter in the line of duty – they needed to have trained personnel on the ground and available to help when requested within six hours of death. This could only be accomplished by developing a team of trained responders in each state who could be deployed immediately upon notification of a line-of-duty death. The National Fallen Firefighters Foundation began training personnel in these functions in October 2006 at the United States Fire Administration campus in Emmitsburg, Maryland, and has continued this training across the country wherever potential team members are available. Funds from the Department of Defense, Bureau of Justice Assistance grant make this vital program possible. No National Fallen Firefighters Foundation donation funds are used to perform any of the LAST functions.
When a line-of-duty death is reported to the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation, the Coordinator of the Local Assistance State Team, in that state, is notified and they immediately make contact with the chief of the effected department or his/her designee and offer the assistance of the Local Assistance State Team. That assistance can include operational support to ensure the continuance of service to the community, any and all needed support to the family of the fallen firefighter, planning and coordination of funeral activities, assistance in obtaining behavioral health counseling for family and department members, and the preparation of local, state and federal benefit claims. While these teams may perform many important functions their primary responsibility, when requested, is to assist with the preparation and submission of the Public Safety Officers Benefit claim. The Local Assistance State Team will only assist after being requested and then will operate in a transparent manner behind the scenes to accomplish their tasks.
These Local Assistance State Teams are made up of members who come from all areas of public safety, as well as survivors of line-of-duty deaths, and volunteers from all lines of work. They are all passionate about helping those who have suffered the loss of a family member or department member in the line of duty. Whenever possible, the team coordinator is a Fire Chief who has experienced a line of duty death and has in-depth knowledge of his state and its fire service activities. The coordinator will designate one or two backup positions to his position to ensure that there is someone available should there be a line of duty death in their state. There are many specialty members on each team such as a honor guard commander, chaplain, survivor, logistics specialist and benefit specialist just to mention a few. In large states, teams will try to duplicate these specialties in different areas of the state in order to shorten response times to all areas of the state. Team deployment can be as few as one member to a complete activation of the team depending on what assistance is requested by the department that has lost a member.