It’s refreshing to see government leaders make an effort to implement major changes based on past lapses. I just read this article from Homeland Security NewsWire about New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s proposed changes to the state’s emergency response system. Here’s what he says about his proposed initiative:
“We learned from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee that we must be ready and have the capabilities to respond to all emergencies. Our state’s first responders are second to none, but they need a highly coordinated network to support them,” Cuomo said. “Today we are launching a series of new actions to ensure that our first responders are properly equipped to respond quickly and effectively in an emergency anywhere and anytime.”
A governor-ordered review of the these disasters found shortcomings in the state’s coordination and preparation, including assets not being aligned with needs, a lack of resources pre-deployed to regions in the storms’ paths, and response units with outdated equipment in place, according to the North Country Gazette. In response to these findings, here are the key points of the governor’s proposed plan:
- Create Five Regional Disaster Logistics Centers
- Placing the Right Equipment and Supplies in the Right Place
- Statewide Emergency Network
- Establish Regional Rapid Response and Incident Management Teams
- First Responder Network and Statewide Credentialing System
- Statewide Conference
- Sale of Unnecessary Equipment
The creation of the five Regional Disaster Logistics Centers is a critical component of this plan. These centers will stockpile equipment and serve as the central staging area during an emergency. These centers will ensure the state has resources and equipment in place ahead of a disaster including everything from DOT trucks and rescue equipment to generators and water filters. In addition to these stockpiles, the plan also includes a Statewide Emergency Network system which includes an inventory of all the state agency assets that can be used during an emergency.
Governor Cuomo’s plan also vastly improves manpower logistics. The plan calls for 10 new Rapid response Support Teams that will be deployed during emergencies to help coordinate state support with local governments. These teams will include personnel from the State Office of Emergency Management, State Police, National Guard, and others. In addition, there will be five additional regionally based Incident Management Teams who will respond to disasters as well as a statewide network of first responders who will provide additional emergency response teams when necessary.
While all these initiatives have the potential to bolster emergency response capabilities, are there concerns about cost? How much money will it take, for example, to maintain stockpiled equipment in five different locations? Will the Statewide Emergency Network database reduce the amount of inventory that needs to be stockpiled at each location? What are the training costs to drastically increase certified personnel?
While the Governor’s plan is impressive, is it too ambitious?