The Department of Homeland Security
There are some new Coordinating Features in the National Response Plan such as: Homeland Security Operations Center (HSOC): The HSOC serves as the primary national level multi-agency hub for domestic situational awareness and operational coordination. The HSOC also includes DHS components, such as the National Infrastructure Coordinating Center (NICC), which has primary responsibility for coordinating communications with the Nation’s critical infrastructure during an incident.
National Response Coordination Center (NRCC): The NRCC, a functional component of the HSOC, is a multi-agency center that provides overall federal response coordination. Regional Response Coordination Center (RRCC): At the regional level, the RRCC coordinates regional response efforts and implements local federal program support until a Joint Field Office is established.
Interagency Incident Management Group (IIMG): A tailored group of senior federal interagency experts who provide strategic advice to the Secretary of Homeland Security during an actual or potential Incident of National Significance. Joint Field Office (JFO): A temporary federal facility established locally to provide a central point to coordinate resources in support of state, local, and tribal authorities. Principal Federal Official (PFO): A PFO may be designated by the Secretary of Homeland Security during a potential or actual Incident of National Significance.
While individual federal officials retain their authorities pertaining to specific aspects of incident management, the PFO works in conjunction with these officials to coordinate overall federal incident management efforts. The Department of Homeland Security/Emergency Preparedness and Response (EP&R)/Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), in close coordination with the DHS Office of the Secretary, will maintain the National Response Plan.
The Plan will be updated to incorporate new Presidential directives, legislative changes, and procedural changes based on lessons learned from exercises and actual events. In the event of a terrorist attack, natural disaster or other large-scale emergency, the Department of Homeland Security will assume primary responsibility on March 1st for ensuring that emergency response professionals are prepared for any situation. The department is responsible for providing a coordinated, comprehensive federal response to any large-scale crisis and mounting a swift and effective recovery effort.
According to the Homeland Security Act of 2002 the mission of the Department of Homeland security is to prevent terrorist attacks within the United States; reduce the vulnerability of the United States to terrorism; and minimize the damage, and assist in the recovery, from terrorist attacks that do occur within the United States. Biohazards: Biohazards are biological agents or substances that present or may present a hazard to the health or well-being of the worker or the community.
Biological agents and substances include infectious and parasitic agents, noninfectious microorganisms, such as some fungi, yeast, algae, plants and plant products, and animals and animal products that cause occupational disease. Generally, biohazards are either infectious microorganisms, toxic biological substances, biological allergens or any combination of the above. Today, biohazards ar also used as weapons of mass destruction in the hands of terrorists – the use of anthrax virus to spread disease, death, fear and panic among the public is a case in point.
As such, biohazards not only come under the purview of the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) but also under Department of Homeland Security. Center for Disease Control and Prevention: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is one of the 13 major operating components of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which is the principal agency in the United States government for protecting the health and safety of all Americans and for providing essential human services, especially for those people who are least able to help themselves.
Since its conception in 1946 to help control malaria, CDC has remained at the forefront of public health efforts to prevent and control infectious and chronic diseases, injuries, workplace hazards, disabilities, and environmental health threats. Today, CDC is globally recognized for conducting research and investigations and for its action oriented approach. CDC applies research and findings to improve people’s daily lives and responds to health emergencies—something that distinguishes CDC from its peer agencies.
To do this, the agency is defining specific health impact goals to prioritize and focus its work and investments and measure progress. In the modern day context, CDC is also entrusted with the task of countering biohazards used by terrorists such as anthrax, plague and tularemia. They need to be prepared to help in managing disasters due to bioterrorism, chemical emergencies, radiation emergencies, mass casualties, natural disasters and severe weather and disease outbreaks.