How Prepared Are We?
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has created the Interim National Preparedness Goal, designed to give all Americans guidance on effectively and efficiently strengthening preparedness for terrorist attacks, major disasters, and other emergencies.
“There is no perfect solution to address every security concern,” Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff says. “But by working together to analyze threats, understand our capabilities, and apply resources intelligently, we can manage risk.”
The Interim National Preparedness Goal establishes readiness priorities, targets, and metrics. The emphasis is on developing appropriate levels of capabilities to address a range of terrorist attacks and disaster scenarios.
“We have to be ready to come together as a single, integrated system when the need arises,” adds Matt Mayer, acting executive director of the Office of State and Local Government Coordination and Preparedness.
“With unlimited resources, full preparedness would be less of a challenge, but we don’t have unlimited resources. We have to make tough choices, they have to be the right choices.”
The goal establishes readiness priorities, targets, and metrics. It will enable the nation to answer three key questions: “How prepared are we?”; “How prepared do we need to be?” and “How do we prioritize efforts to close the gap?” The emphasis is on developing appropriate levels of capabilities to address a wide range of terrorist attacks and disaster scenarios.
The Goal includes seven priorities for national preparedness. The priorities fall into two categories: overarching priorities and priorities to build specific capabilities.
The overarching priorities are to:
implement the National Incident Management System and National Response Plan;
expand regional collaboration; and
Implement the Interim National Infrastructure Protection Plan.
The priorities for specific capabilities are to strengthen:
information sharing and collaboration capabilities;
interoperable communications capabilities;
chemical, biological, radiation, nuclear, and explosive weapons (CBRNE) detection, response, and decontamination capabilities; and
medical surge and mass prophylaxis capabilities.
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.