A bill introduced last summer in the U.S. House of Representatives to amend the Homeland Security Act of 2002 to direct the Secretary of Homeland Security to develop and implement a program to enhance private sector preparedness for emergencies and disasters.
Program Elements- In carrying out the program, the Secretary shall develop guidance and identify best practices to assist or foster action by the private sector in--
`(1) identifying hazards and assessing risks and impacts;
`(2) mitigating the impacts of a wide variety of hazards, including weapons of mass destruction;
`(3) managing necessary emergency preparedness and response resources;
`(4) developing mutual aid agreements;
`(5) developing and maintaining emergency preparedness and response plans, as well as associated operational procedures;
`(6) developing and maintaining communications and warning systems;
`(7) developing and conducting training and exercises to support and evaluate emergency preparedness and response plans and operational procedures;
`(8) developing and conducting training programs for security guards to implement emergency preparedness and response plans and operations procedures; and
`(9) developing procedures to respond to external requests for information from the media and the public.
Congress has found out the following:
Identifying standards and best practices is necessary to promote emergency preparedness by private sector organizations, in addition to educational activities to effectively communicate such standards and best practices.
As business waits for this bill to get out of committee, business leaders around the country are not standing around. They realize that contingency planning and continuity of operations is imperative for their business survival. We can only hope that no one is waiting around for what the standards body or best practices authority will be. Let's pray that the private sector has gone beyond developing plans and now is exercising Corporate Emergency Response Team (CERT)training in all the facilities deemed to be soft targets. Without this, we will certainly not be as ready as we could be. And once we have trained and tested numerous times, we will know what to improve and how to change the procedures accordingly.