Incident management system to galvanize response

Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge said today that all levels of government might soon use the same procedures to respond to national, regional and local emergencies.

Ridge unveiled a standardized management approach to such incidents at the annual conference of the National Association of Counties in Washington. He called upon county officials to use the system to further domestic security.

"We seek nothing less than the integration of a nation," Ridge said, adding, "New people, funds, and technology will not be enough?.It will take hard work, strong partnerships-and a will to unify."

The National Incident Management Systems, known as NIMS, will serve as a template for a national response plan and can be used to respond to any incident, no matter how large or small, Ridge said. What's more, it can be used to leverage future technology initiatives, he said.

NIMS incorporates incident management best practices developed by thousands of first responders and other authorities throughout the nation, Ridge said. The system's key components are an incident command system, communications and information management, preparedness, a joint information system and an integration center. The system uses common terminology, protocol and processes, he said.

On a related matter, Ridge acknowledged that local government is still having difficulty accessing the more than $8 billion the Homeland Security Department has made available to first responders since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

He said that some states haven't used all of the funds they received in 2002 and many states haven't used all of the funds they received in 2003. He pledged to work with the governors and their administrations to ensure that local governments receive their fair share of the funds.

"I understand we still have some problems getting money out," Ridge said. "We are going to simplify the sometimes complicated grant process."

About the Author

William Welsh is a freelance writer covering IT and defense technology.

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