Emergency response plans inadequate according to DHS
| 06.16.2006 | 06:41:30 | Views: 2829 | ID:
June 16 '06: The Associated Press reported Friday morning on a report it obtained from the Department of Homeland Security which reviewed the status of the nation's state and city emergency response plans. In the report, the department reviewed 131 state and city emergency plans around the country and found cause "for significant national concern," because of antiquated and uncoordinated programs. "Although emergency plans appear to be stronger in 18 states along the nation's 'Hurricane Belt', the analysis cited preparedness gaps ... Planning for evacuations also remain 'an area of profound concern," the AP wrote.
Speaking at the Brookings Institution earlier in the month, Homeland Secretary Michael Chertoff said, "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. ... 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."National Public Radio reported June 6, "Earlier this year, only 22 states said their emergency preparedness plans were adequate to deal with a catastrophic disaster. ... Only six states thought their evacuation plans were adequate, and less than a third of cities said their plans could handle a huge disaster." In the report, DHS investigators said, "We rely to a troubling extent on plans that are created in isolation, are insufficiently detailed and are not subject to adequate review. ... Time and time again, these factors extract a severe penalty in the midst of a crisis: precious time is consumed in the race to correct the misperceptions of federal, state and local responders about roles, responsibilities and actions. ... The result is uneven performance and repeated and costly operational miscues." The report did not list specific cities or communities and their shortcomings, but it listed other areas where improvements could be made. Of the suggestions: addressing the evacuation of elderly and disabled residents; the timeliness of emergency warnings and alerts to the public; and failure of a clear command in an emergency. Those states and cities which were found to have better emergency plans in place - the "Hurricane Belt" states - "were more likely to be rated sufficient ... than other states," the report wrote. Those states were also found to have "noticeably stronger" health, management of resources and communications. Additionally, those states were found to be more timely in alerting the public to a disaster.
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