OHS to test emergency links

Within the next two months, the Office of Homeland Security will lead an

exercise to test the possibility of linking federal, state and local incident

command centers across the country with the White House situation room during

times of emergency.

During the past several months, the office has set up off-site incident

coordination and support centers that provide around-the-clock assistance

for prevention and response, said Stephen King, director of investigations

and law enforcement within the Office of Homeland Security's Threat, Countermeasures

and Incident Management Directorate. King was speaking Aug. 20 at the Government

Symposium on Information Sharing and Homeland Security in Philadelphia.

The Office of Homeland Security Coordination Center is a high-level

interagency group that is constantly on call to monitor and respond to threats

identified by intelligence and law enforcement. While the members of that

group come together in response to a call — usually within a half an hour

— the Office of Homeland Security Incident Support Group provides a live

video link between the White House and state and local first responders,

King said.

The exercise will test the links for this support group, King said.

A communications working group already is in place with participants from

federal, state and local agencies looking at the specific technology issues

involved in creating the nationwide connection, he said.

"That sort of connectivity will be critical to quick response," King

said.

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