APWA joins DHS to announce completion of National Response Plan

Kristina Tanasichuk
Senior Manager of Government Relations
APWA Washington Office

APWA joined Department of Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge on January 6 to announce completion of the National Response Plan (NRP), the nation's vision for a national response to a terrorist event. The document, available at DHS' website, provides clarification of the roles and responsibilities of all levels of government and the private sector in the event of a disaster.

DHS Secretary Tom Ridge with Teresa Scott, P.E., Public Works Director, City of Gainesville, Florida, and member of APWA's Emergency Management Committee

The NRP seeks to homogenize and simplify the federal response to a disaster—unifying many of the different federal response plans into one plan that can be followed in any disaster scenario. "The National Response Plan embodies our nation's commitment to the concept of one team, one goal—a safer and more secure America," Ridge said at the press conference. "Completion of the National Response Plan has been one of my Department's highest priorities, and this achievement is a bold step forward in bringing unity in our response to disasters and terrorist attacks."

"Our association is very pleased that the NRP reflects that all response is local," said APWA Executive Director Peter King at the press conference. "The plan reinforces that during a disaster, the local responders are the very first at the scene and the very last to leave. We applaud the department for homogenizing the response from the different federal agencies involved in the response and look forward to working from one plan—all being on the same page in the event of a disaster.

"As an association whose members are first responders and those who reestablish lifeline services to our communities after a man-made or natural disaster, we are also heartened to see DHS' continued emphasis on all-hazards response capabilities and on utilizing our resources to the maximum extent possible," King continued. "We look forward to seeing this commitment in the budget allocations as well."

The National Response Plan now establishes a unified and standardized approach within the United States for protecting citizens and managing homeland security incidents. All federal departments and agencies that may be required to assist or support during a national incident will use this plan, whether from threats or acts of terrorism, major natural disasters, or man-made emergencies. The National Response Plan standardizes federal incident response actions by integrating existing and formerly disparate processes. It also establishes standardized training, organization, and communications procedures through the National Incident Management System (NIMS), and clearly identifies authority and leadership responsibilities.

DHS Secretary Tom Ridge with APWA member MaryAnn Marrocolo, Director, Recovery and Mitigation, New York City Office of Emergency Management, and member of APWA's Emergency Management Committee.

The National Response Plan was developed by teams of experts from federal departments and agencies, state, local, and tribal officials, incident response and private sector committees from around the nation. APWA Emergency Management Committee members Teresa Scott, P.E., Director of Public Works from Gainesville, Florida, participated on behalf of APWA and MaryAnn E. Marrocolo, Director of Recovery and Mitigation, New York City Office of Emergency Management, participated on behalf of New York.

Ridge said, "We brought together the best of the best in our nation's incident management and first responder communities for a singular but critical national endeavor, and I am honored to recognize their achievement in completing this landmark plan and making America safer."

The NRP fulfills a requirement in Homeland Security Presidential Directive 5 and provides a core operational plan for all national incident management. When fully implemented, it will supersede the Initial National Response Plan (INRP), the U.S. Government Interagency Domestic Terrorism Concept of Operations Plan (CONPLAN), and the Federal Radiological Emergency Response Plan (FRERP).

The National Response Plan and the supporting National Incident Management System establish incident management processes to:

  • Improve coordination and integration between federal, state, local, tribal, regional, private sector, and nongovernmental organization partners;
  • Integrate the federal response to catastrophic events;
  • Improve incident management communications and increase cross-jurisdictional coordination and situational awareness;
  • Improve federal to federal interaction and emergency support;
  • Maximize use and employment of incident management resources; and
  • Facilitate emergency mutual aid and federal emergency support to state, local, and tribal governments.

The National Response Plan further recognizes the potential magnitude of threats from weapons of mass destruction and severe natural disasters by adoption of a new term, the incident of national significance. An incident of national significance is described as an incident with high impact requiring an extensive and well-coordinated response by federal, state, local, tribal, and nongovernmental authorities to save lives and minimize damage.

The DHS is planning a "roadshow" of sorts to roll out the plan across the country and discuss its requirements. The first cities in the rollout include New York, Chicago, District of Columbia, Miami, Los Angeles, and Seattle.

To receive more information about the National Response Plan:

  • First responders and incident management authorities may call (800) 368-6498 (8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. EST weekdays).
  • Interested citizens may view and download a PDF copy of the National Response Plan online at http://www.dhs.gov/nationalresponseplan.
  • A full training module on the NRP is available at the DHS website.
  • Hard copies of the plan are available from the DHS-FEMA information warehouse.
  • Information on FEMA National Response Plan training courses is available through links at the above website.

Kristina Tanasichuk can be reached at (202) 408-9541 or at ktanasichuk@apwa.net.