DIRECTOR, IOWA DIVISION OF EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AND
IMMEDIATE PAST PRESIDENT
NATIONAL EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT ASSOCIATION
HOUSE SUBCOMMITTEE ON NATIONAL SECURITY, VETERANS AFFAIRS, AND INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
SEPTEMBER 22, 1999
National Emergency Management Association
PO Box 11910
Lexington, KY 40578
Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee:
Thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today. My name is Ellen Gordon. Im the Director of the Iowa Division of Emergency Management and am here today representing the National Emergency Management Association (NEMA) and the state emergency management directors who are its core members. I also serve on a congressionally established advisory panel, led by Virginia Governor Jim Gilmore, charged with assessing domestic response capabilities for terrorism involving weapons of mass destruction. It is the state emergency management perspective that I will speak from today.
NEMA is very concerned about the issue of domestic preparedness and has been working in close partnership with the National Governors Association to provide policy and program recommendations to the federal government to enhance coordination efforts between agencies with domestic preparedness roles and responsibilities. NEMA and NGA co-sponsored a national policy summit in February of this year that brought together for the first time, policy executives from governors offices, state emergency management and law enforcement. NEMA and NGA are also working with the Department of Justice, FEMA and others to clearly define the role of the states and governors in this critically important issue and to provide information, resources and tools to states to enhance preparedness and response capabilities should an incident occur. In the coming year NEMA and NGA, with support provided by DOJ, will sponsor a series of regional terrorism workshops where "teams" of state policy and program officials will come together to identify state and regional issues related to domestic preparedness. We expect to provide additional policy and funding recommendations to congress and the federal government following the completion of those workshops.
The public health systems preparedness and readiness to respond to a WMD incident is well behind the efforts undertaken by the fire and emergency services organizations. The principal reasons appear to be a lack of national program direction that provides for coordination with the National Domestic Preparedness Office, the Department of Justice and FEMA, inadequate funding for local and state preparedness activities, and a concentration of resources and funding towards metropolitan areas.
As a whole, the state directors of emergency management believe that most state public health systems are unprepared to respond to a WMD incident for the following reasons:
In Iowa, as in most states, we are reaching out to our state partners in law enforcement, fire, and the state department of public health to integrate them all into a statewide terrorism consequence management strategy. Public health is a critical component of a comprehensive response plan, yet collectively, we are far from where we need to be to have an integrated response capability in every state. States need the immediate help of Congress and the federal government to bring the public health system up to an appropriate level of readiness and capability by: