National review of city emergency preparedness plans
| 06.06.2006 | 08:15:44 | Views: 1950 | ID:
June 6: National Public Radio reported Monday morning that a national review by the White House of major cities' emergency plans will be released as early as this week and it will look at the ability for cities to respond to a natural or national threat. In the report, government officials and experts said more steps need to be taken "to handle another huge disaster". And last week, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said that "serious gaps" exist in the ability for emergency management departments in some of the country's largest cities, to handle large disasters or crises like hurricanes, earthquakes, or terrorist attacks.
"We've taken a pretty candid look at the state of preparedness, and it's uneven. Good in some places, not so good in other places," Chertoff said according to NPR. The comments were made during a speech at the Brookings Institution and Chertoff added, "We are going to be working with our state and local partners to help them improve their preparedness, recognizing that the fundamental principle is that state and local officials are the first responders in all by the most extraordinary circumstances.""Earlier this year, only 22 states said their emergency preparedness plans were adequate to deal with a catastrophic disaster," NPR reported. "Only six states thought their evacuation plans were adequate, and less than a third of cities said their plans could handle a huge disaster." Emergency management officials in cities across the country, and experts have told NPR some of the salient problems facing evacuation and emergency plans are problems with communication interoperability, evacuating those who cannot evacuate themselves, and providing the infrastructure to enable residents of an affected community, town or city evacuate in a timely manner. In Washington DC, emergency management officials told NPR that one of the ways they were trying to improve their disaster preparedness and response included adding additional equipment to help transport immobile victims and communications equipment to help hospital staff stay in contact with each other. Secretary Chertoff said, "What we need to do now is continued to build on the hard work that's been done ... [and] be as prepared as we need to be not only in this year, but in the years to come."
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