DHS puts out interim plan

Homeland Security Department officials published interim standards last week for how officials nationwide should respond to terrorist attacks and other major emergencies.

The Interim National Preparedness Goal states that federal, state, local and tribal government officials should collaborate with the private sector, nongovernmental organizations and the public when a large-scale disaster strikes. The publication outlines seven priorities for homeland security. Officials should:

• Implement the National Incident Management System, the comprehensive emergency-response framework that DHS must have in place by fiscal 2007.

• Follow the National Response Plan, the standardized federal procedure that governments, organizations and first responders must follow during an emergency.

• Implement the Interim National Infrastructure Protection Plan, which protects important assets such as telecommunications networks, dams and government facilities.

• Increase cooperation among different regions of the country.

• Improve information sharing and interoperable communications among responders.

• Improve detection, response and decontamination capabilities for chemical, biological, radiation, nuclear and explosive weapons.

• Bolster plans to better handle mass-casualty incidents and mass distribution of vaccines and other protective measures.

Homeland Security Presidential Directive 8 is the basis for the document. President Bush signed the directive in December 2003, ordering officials to devise standards for preparedness for terrorist attacks and other mass-casualty events.

The final version of the document is scheduled for release Oct. 1. The first annual status report on the nation’s preparedness, based on those final rules, is due by March 31, 2006.

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