-Posted by Assistant Secretary for International Affairs Alan Bersin
This week, the United States and Canada announced the establishment of Binational Port Operations Committees at eight Canadian airports that provide a U.S. preclearance service, as part of their commitment under the Beyond the Border Action Plan for Perimeter Security and Economic Competitiveness released by Prime Minister Harper and President Obama.
These eight bilateral committees will help facilitate legitimate cross-border trade and travel and promote collaboration on overall port management. In addition, each Binational Port Operations Committee has developed an action plan that includes specific initiatives to improve border management and efficiency.
Committees have been created at the following eight Canadian airports:
- Vancouver International Airport, Vancouver, British Columbia
- Calgary International Airport, Calgary, Alberta
- Edmonton International Airport, Edmonton, Alberta
- James Armstrong Richardson International Airport, Winnipeg, Manitoba
- Pearson International Airport, Toronto, Ontario
- MacDonald-Cartier International Airport, Ottawa, Ontario
- Pierre-Elliott-Trudeau International Airport, Montréal, Quebec
- Halifax Stanfield International Airport, Halifax, Nova Scotia
The Beyond the Border Action Plan, released in December 2011 by Prime Minister Harper and President Obama, lays out specific steps that both counties will take to facilitate legitimate trade and travel, while simultaneously ensuring security. The action plan focuses on four areas: addressing threats early; facilitating trade, economic growth and jobs; integrating cross border law enforcement; and strengthening critical infrastructure and cyber security.
Posted by: Craig Fugate, Administrator, FEMA
In my December blog, I expressed the Obama Administration’s support for amending the Stafford Act to allow federally recognized tribal governments to make a request directly to the President for a federal emergency or major disaster declaration. Under current law, only States, through the Governor, can make such requests.
I’ve re-emphasized my support for amending the law by sending letters to Congressional Committee Chairmen to offer FEMA’s support for S. 2283. A change to the Stafford Act would enhance our ability to respond directly to tribal governments’ declaration requests regardless of State or county boundaries or jurisdictions. I’m giving my firm commitment to actively work with Indian Country and Members of Congress to support and facilitate the passage of this legislation.
Specifically, the letters I sent today are recommending that Congress take swift action to pass this legislation. If Congress passes and the President signs such legislation into law, my office will act promptly in the development of appropriate regulations and policies for implementation.
Through the years, I’m proud of the close working relationships we developed at FEMA with recognized tribal governments across the country, especially as it relates to disaster response, recovery and mitigation activities. Based on these experiences, I’ve seen great success and some challenges. I believe that amending the Stafford Act to allow federally recognized tribal governments to make a request directly to the President for a federal emergency or disaster declaration, will only improve our coordination efforts and build stronger more resilient communities.
The U.S. Government has a unique government-to-government relationship with federally recognized tribal governments based on the U.S. Constitution, statutes, regulations, treaties, executive orders, executive memoranda and policies. Amending the law would acknowledge the sovereignty of federally recognized tribes, enhance FEMA’s working relationship with tribal governments, and improve emergency and disaster responsiveness throughout Indian Country.
I’m looking forward to the day when the changes I have communicated here are made law and we are better situated to improve our coordination efforts with tribal governments and Indian Country. Visit https://www.fema.gov/tribal for additional information.
We will continue to follow the progress of this legislation closely and I’ll keep you posted on developments.
Posted by Secretary Janet Napolitano
Every day, DHS employees around the world work to ensure the security of our country. They work along our borders, in our airports, in federal buildings and throughout the maritime domain. There are also countless DHS employees that Americans don’t see. At the DHS Pride Ceremony today, I had the opportunity to speak with and thank some of our LGBT employees for their dedication to our Department and our important mission.
|Secretary Napolitano meets with DHS Pride Board of Directors|
Over the last three years, we have worked to build One DHS, helping to unify the youngest, and one of the largest, Cabinet agencies. DHS has taken a number of key steps to foster an environment where everyone has the opportunity to advance and thrive. At the Pride Ceremony, I spoke about our commitment to creating a welcoming and inclusive workplace for all employees and the important role groups like DHS Pride have in building that common culture.
We are ever mindful of the significance of our work and the events that gave rise to our department as we continue to strengthen the safety, security, and resilience of our nation. As we look forward, we will continue to work together to address new and emerging challenges while maturing and strengthening the homeland security enterprise.
Editor's Note: This blog was originally posted on the White House Blog.
Today marks the start of the 2012 Atlantic Hurricane Season. Under the direction of President Obama, FEMA and DHS stand ready to support our state and local partners as the tropics start to produce their annual cyclones, storms, and hurricanes. On Wednesday, I joined Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano as well as partners from NOAA, DOE, the Army Corps of Engineers, and representatives from states and the private sector to brief the President on steps FEMA and our partners have already taken to meet the challenges of the 2012 hurricanes season. That briefing underscored the importance of the whole community, from the federal government to individual citizens, working together to get prepared before a potential storm threatens a region, state, or community.
|Washington, D.C., May 30, 2012 -- President Barack Obama participates in the annual hurricane preparedness briefing in the Situation Room of the White House, May 30, 2012. Seated clockwise from the President are: Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano; John Brennan, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism; Daniel Poneman, Department of Energy Deputy Secretary; Eric Silagy, FP&L President; Bryan Koon, Florida Director of Emergency Management; Major General Emmett Titshaw, Florida Adjutant General; Chief of Staff Jack Lew; and Craig Fugate, Administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)|
Long before the start of this year’s hurricane season, FEMA has worked closely with our partners at the state, local and tribal levels. This includes openly sharing information and expertise that will improve resiliency across our nation, cities, towns, neighborhoods, and families. For FEMA, building relationships before a disaster strikes is vital to working closely together during and after an emergency situation.
But government doesn’t prepare for and respond to disasters alone. Right alongside are the hundreds of businesses, voluntary agencies, and faith- and community-based organizations who provide vital services to both communities and individuals affected by disasters. Some of these organizations provide for basic needs like food, water, and shelter – while others respond to needs such as financial consulting, animal sheltering, or help processing your insurance claim.
While all the players I mentioned play a part in keeping our nation and neighborhoods safer in case disaster strikes – these efforts will fall flat unless individuals take part in their own preparedness. Fortunately, the short amount of time and effort it takes to make our families and homes safer is well worth the payoff if an emergency should happen. For example, here are three simple steps you can take today:
- Familiarize yourself with the disasters or emergencies that could happen where you live, work or frequently visit,
- Decide and practice how your family would communicate after an emergency, and
- Build an emergency supply kit to sustain your family for at least 72 hours.
So as we move into the traditional start of the Atlantic hurricane season, I encourage you to respond to the important role you play as part of the emergency management team. You can start with one of the three steps I listed out above, or by pledging to prepare at Ready.gov/hurricanes.
This morning, against the backdrop of the original Star-Spangled Banner, I had the privilege of participating in a naturalization ceremony at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History.
My colleagues and I, along with hundreds of visitors to the museum, were honored to welcome America’s newest citizens and congratulate them as they begin their lives as U.S. citizens. Among the individuals who took the Oath of Allegiance were three members of the U.S. armed forces. USCIS is particularly grateful to these individuals and their fellow service members, both native and foreign-born. Throughout the year we honor those who serve this nation and pay a special tribute in commemoration of Memorial Day this weekend.
The fire service is a major provider of Emergency Medical Services (EMS) in America. The U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) is committed to supporting EMS through the many training programs of the National Fire Academy (NFA) and the research and data collection activities of the National Fire Data Center. The 2012 National EMS Week – EMS: More Than A Job. A Calling – is May 20 thru May 26.
I would like to share with you some of USFA’s initiatives that will help ensure vibrant and effective EMS systems throughout the nation:
- In partnership with the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Health Affairs (OHA), USFA recently completed several project initiatives to support the EMS community including:
Funding Alternatives for Emergency Medical and Fire Services (PDF, 3.7 Mb). This revised manual provides the most up to date information regarding funding for local level EMS and fire departments. The document includes sources of federal funding as well as other new and innovative funding sources not discussed in previous editions.
Handbook for EMS Medical Directors. Produced with the assistance of the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) EMS Section, this handbook provides an overview of key roles and responsibilities to assist current and prospective medical directors in performing their important missions.
- Also with DHS OHA, USFA is working on an EMS Responder Safety Study in partnership with the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF), as well as a soon to be completed project documenting model polices and protocols for EMS mass care incident deployment with the National EMS Management Association (NEMSMA).
- In response to USFA’s Reauthorization Act of 2008, which authorized the NFA to provide advanced EMS training, four new courses have been developed: EMS Quality Management, EMS Functions in the Incident Command System, EMS Incident Operations, and Hot Topics Research for EMS. EMS examples, references, and activities are also included in all other appropriate NFA courses. In addition, NFA’s new Leadership Strategies in Community Risk Reduction course is a combined effort for fire prevention and illness/injury prevention through all-risk, all-discipline community risk reduction.
- USFA is a key partner on the Federal Interagency Committee on EMS (FICEMS). This committee seeks to ensure coordination across all Federal agencies with EMS mission responsibilities. FICEMS also coordinates the liaison efforts of Federal agencies with the Nation’s input to the National EMS Advisory Council.
- With the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ)/National Institute of Justice (NIJ), USFA has begun a study of emergent topics in emergency vehicle and roadway operations safety to assist in the development and demonstration of best practices for the emergency services, including EMS.
I am pleased to release the newest update of the Private Sector Resources Catalog. Originally created two years ago, this document centralizes resources from the 23 different DHS Components into one location and categorizes them for easy access. The Catalog has information on the training, publications, guidance, alerts, newsletters, programs, and services available to the private sector from across the department.
This comprehensive document provides access to all the Department’s resources to make your organization – and our country – more secure. As Secretary Napolitano has said, homeland security begins with hometown security.
Appropriate for all audiences in the private sector from emergency managers at academic institutions to critical infrastructure owners and operators, the Private Sector Resources Catalog (PSRC) also includes a comprehensive index organizing resources by issue (such as Protection) and by type (such as Risk Assessment).
As we continue to improve the document over time, we welcome your comments and feedback – please email firstname.lastname@example.org with any suggestions.
-Posted by Assistant Secretary for Health Affairs and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Alexander Garza
This week we celebrate and honor the federal, state, local, territorial, and tribal Emergency Medical Service (EMS) practitioners serving communities all across the country. Operating at the crossroads of health care, public health, and public safety, EMS plays a vital role in ensuring that we are prepared for the health consequences from any potential threats facing our nation. As a former paramedic, I know firsthand the dedication, commitment, and selfless sacrifice of our medical first responders.
EMS providers have demanding jobs. They are asked to be first responders in a wide range of circumstances. In addition to daily medical response, the EMS community must be prepared to respond with care and efficiency at a moment’s notice to natural disasters and other threats. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recognizes the critical response functions performed by pre-hospital providers across the country. Here at the Office of Health Affairs (OHA), we work every day to enhance medical first responder capabilities.
Over the past year, a number of OHA initiatives have been launched to integrate the EMS community into the broader spectrum of preparedness activities including: developing human trafficking awareness training as part of the DHS Blue Campaign; developing an integrated strategy to collaborate with Canadian EMS, emergency management and others as part of the Beyond the Border Initiative; and partnering with the U.S. Fire Administration to publish Funding Alternatives for Emergency Medical and Fire Services and a Handbook for EMS Medical Directors.
Within DHS, we continue to operate a robust EMS System comprised of over 3,500 medical first responders. This week, I encourage everyone to acknowledge the service and hard work of their local EMS provider to make our nation a safer place.
Extreme (and not so extreme) swings in the weather occur all the time. We often experience warm days in the winter and cold days in the summer. So I guess we shouldn’t be all that surprised when Mother Nature decides to launch her first tropical storm thirteen days in advance of the scheduled start of hurricane season (June 1).
Yesterday gave up the first tropical system for the Atlantic season with the formation of Tropical Storm Alberto off the South Carolina Coast.
As of this afternoon, according to the National Hurricane Center, the center of the storm is located 90 miles southeast of Charleston, South Carolina and is moving toward the west-southwest at near 6 mph. Alberto is expected to slow down and move little through Monday, and after that it is expected to make a northeastward acceleration Monday night and Tuesday. On this track, the center of Alberto is forecast to remain offshore of the Carolina and Georgia coasts.
This early storm formation should encourage coastal residents in Georgia and the Carolinas to monitor weather conditions and take steps now to get prepared for potential severe weather. Tropical waves or tropical storms can bring heavy rains and high winds, so it’s important that you take steps to prepare your property and family.
In fact, all those who live in hurricane prone areas should heed this early storm as a sign to be prepared for the season. Visit Ready.gov/hurricanes (Listo.gov para español) to learn how to prepare your home and family for a hurricane or tropical storm.
Tropical Storm and Hurricane Preparedness and Safety Tips:
- Now is the time to be prepared if you live in a coastal area or could be affected by severe weather. Build your own emergency supply kit—personalized with the non-perishable foods you like, your medications, personal documents.
- Visit www.ready.gov or www.listo.gov for tips on creating your family emergency plan and putting together an emergency supply kit.
- Monitor local radio and television news outlets or listen to NOAA Weather Radio for the latest developments. Your local National Weather Service forecast office is the best place to find information about the weather that may affect your area, so check your local forecast at www.weather.gov or on your phone at mobile.weather.gov.
- A tropical storm watch means that tropical storm conditions are possible, in this case within 24 hours.
- A tropical storm warning means that tropical storm conditions are expected within 36 hours.
- A Hurricane watch means that hurricane conditions are possible within 48 hours.
- A Hurricane warning means that hurricane conditions are expected within 36 hours.