Public Information Assist Team (PIAT)

Public Information Assist Team Area of Responsibility Map with team logoThe Public Information Assist Team provides unique, interagency crisis communication experience and technical expertise to help Incident Commanders and Federal On Scene Coordinators meet their objectives of truth and transparency of operations for the public.

The PIAT was established at Coast Guard Headquarters in 1978 as one of the special forces mandated in the National Contingency Plan.  Since merging with the National Strike Force (NSF) in 1991, PIAT members have been trained and qualified in HAZMAT operations, which allows them full access to response activities. The PIAT is co-located with the National Strike Force Coordination Center, and is staffed by four highly-trained crisis communications professionals.

PIAT Response

The PIAT responds to oil spills or hazmat incidents to support a Coast Guard or EPA FOSC, but is also available for other incidents such as natural disasters.  The team maintains a response standard of mobilizing two members within six hours of activation and, if needed, two additional members within 12 hours.

Members deploy with a response kit that includes all the equipment necessary to meet the public and media’s information needs, and enables the PIAT to be self-sufficient during the initial response. The services PIAT members provide during a response may include, but are not limited to:

  • Filling the role of incident Public Information Officer
  • Establishing and/or managing a Joint Information Center
  • Producing and disseminating public information products such as news releases, fact sheets and media advisories
  • Coordinating all media relations activities at a response, including: serving as incident spokesperson; coordinating all aspects of news media briefings/conferences; identifying and preparing response personnel for media interviews/media briefings; on-site media escort; media coverage analysis
  • Coordinating community relations activities, including: stakeholder identification and development; coordinating incident open house events; identifying and preparing response personnel to speak at public meetings, open houses, etc.; public perception analysis
  • Providing photographic and videographic support
  • Establishing and/or maintaining an incident news site on the Internet
  • Provide general written and verbal public affairs guidance for all response personnel
  • Provide detailed after action reports/lessons learned

The Public Information Assist Team is an element of the National Strike Force, available to help Federal On-Scene Coordinators meet their communication needs during an incident. The PIAT is a four-person team that provides crisis communications during oil spills, hazardous material releases, marine accidents, natural disasters and terrorism or WMD incidents. PIAT members are highly trained communicators and experts in establishing and managing the NIMS compliant Joint Information Center. PA1 Chambers providing support.

PIAT members routinely give training in risk communications and ICS-based joint information center operations to response community personnel from the Coast Guard, other federal agencies, state and local agencies and industry. 

Most PIAT training events are associated with government- and industry-led response exercises.  Of those events, many are in support of the Preparedness for Response Exercise Program.  However, in just the past few years PIAT members have trained hundreds of people in the response community at other types of exercises or stand-alone training events.

During the planning and design phases of exercises, PIAT members may assist with scenario development.  PIAT members train exercise participants and then, during the exercises, act as coaches, controllers, evaluators or assist the exercise simulation cell members.

Area Contingency Plan Review

Beginning in early 2010, in addition to training, the PIAT will offer Area Contingency Plan review for public information management and customized communication plan development for Sector public affairs programs. 


PIAT Brochure

PIAT | Contact Information

Request PIAT support during an incident:

National Strike Force Coordination Center (NSFCC) - 252-331-4400
National Response Center - 800-424-8802
PIAT Supervisor - 252-331-4364