Magazine article Nation's Cities Weekly

Department of Homeland Security Evaluates National Approach to Handle Emergencies: Officials Beginning Revision Process of National Response Plan; Now in the Listening Phase

Magazine article Nation's Cities Weekly

Department of Homeland Security Evaluates National Approach to Handle Emergencies: Officials Beginning Revision Process of National Response Plan; Now in the Listening Phase

Article excerpt

In response to intense criticism of the federal reaction to Hurricane Katrina, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) last week convened representatives from a broad range of public, volunteer and private sector organizations to evaluate the national plan for responding to emergencies, known as the National Response Plan.

Last updated in May, the plan lays out a comprehensive approach to handling emergencies and establishes a series of protocols for working with state, local and tribal governments and the private sector.

Laurel, Md., Mayor Craig Moe, a member of NLC's Public Safety and Crime Prevention steering committee, represented NLC at the meeting.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and DHS officials noted that the meeting, held on Wednesday, Oct. 25, represented the beginning of the revision process and they were in the listening phase.

Noting the severe criticism that FEMA has received in the time since Hurricane Katrina hit, DHS Undersecretary George Foresman said the National Response Plan revision was to help, "make things work better in the middle of a crisis [since there is an] expectation on the part of citizens that we have our act together."

The National Response Plan is a broad overarching plan, not a substitute for local plans, noted Foresman, and must represent an integrated approach that includes continuous efforts to work and train with state and local governments.

The National Response Plan incorporates best practices and procedures from incident management disciplines--homeland security, emergency management, law enforcement, firefighting, public works, public health, responder and recovery worker health and safety, emergency medical services, and the private sector--and integrates them into a unified structure.

It forms the basis of how the federal government coordinates with state, local and tribal governments and the private sector during incidents. …

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