Immediate Response is conducted by Army Reserve units and Soldiers under the Immediate Response Authority (IRA) outlined in DoD Directive 3025.18, which authorizes local commanders to take action to save lives, prevent human suffering or mitigate great property damage in a situation of urgency when there is insufficient time to get approval from higher headquarters.

As listed in DoD Directive 3025.18, a request for assistance from a civil authority (tribal authority, mayor, chief of police, fire chief, sheriff, chief of emergency management, etc.) is required to initiate the Immediate Response Authority. Following the request, Army Reserve units within the affected area may respond immediately under imminently serious conditions to disasters and attacks as required by civil authorities and within limits established by law. 

Immediate Response Authority was recently used in the aftermath of historic rainfall and flooding in West Virginia. Forty-four counties were under a declared state of emergency when the commander of the 811th Ordnance Company, 321st Ordnance Battalion, 38th Regional Support Group, received a call from the mayor of Rainelle, asking for immediate assistance in evacuating individuals whose lives were in imminent danger.

Approximately 15 Soldiers from the 811th responded to the call, joining forces with state and local authorities to conduct disaster recovery operations, including conducting sweeps of previously inaccessible areas, moving supplies (water, food, cleaning supplies) and transporting civilians and staff.

Several worked with the Rainelle Fire Department to respond to 911 distress calls, going from home to home in more than three feet of fast water, to evacuate residents. One Soldier moved more than 100 people to safety, according to his chain of command.