Keeping Us Safe: Secret Intelligence and Homeland Security

By Arthur S. Hulnick | Go to book overview

10
First Responders

In the aftermath of 9/11, a great deal of attention focused on the creation of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and efforts by the federal government to provide for the defense against terrorism and other threats. The fact is, however, that DHS was not the only organization working on security within the United States. That work was and is primarily being done by state and local governments and the private sector. Yet DHS does provide some very useful and helpful functions at the federal level, both to deal with threats to homeland security and to provide support to the first responders at state and local levels.

First responders—or [emergency response providers] as they are called in the Homeland Security legislation—include [federal, state, and local emergency public safety, law enforcement, emergency response, emergency medical] and support personnel. First responders also include private sector security and volunteer organizations who would be the first people to deal with the aftermath of a terrorist attack or some other disaster that inflicted harm on the homeland.1 There are hundreds of thousands of such people within the United States at the state and local levels, not counting the DHS itself.

Although response to threats and attacks on the homeland generally fall below the federal level, the DHS has its own first responders. The Coast Guard protects harbors and waterways, as well as keeping an eye on ships entering and leaving key ports. For example, there is still a great deal of

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