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  5. Ensuring Resilience to Disasters

Ensuring Resilience to Disasters

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and its many partners across the federal government, public and private sectors, and communities across the country and around the world have worked since 9/11 to build a new homeland security enterprise to better mitigate and defend against dynamic threats, minimize risks, and maximize the ability to respond and recover from attacks and disasters of all kinds. 

Together, these efforts have provided a strong foundation to protect communities from terrorism and other threats, while safeguarding the fundamental rights of all Americans. 

While threats persist, our nation is stronger than it was on 9/11, more prepared to confront evolving threats, and more resilient in the face of our continued challenges.

DHS provides the coordinated, comprehensive federal response in the event of a terrorist attack, natural disaster or to other large-scale emergencies while working with federal, state, local, and private sector partners to ensure a swift and effective recovery effort. The Department's efforts to build a ready and resilient nation through a "Whole Community" approach include enhancing emergency communications and interoperability; building nuclear, radiological, and biological preparedness capabilities; and providing grants, plans and training to our homeland security partners. Since fiscal year 2003, DHS has awarded more than $31 billion in preparedness grant funding based on risk, to build and sustain targeted capabilities to prevent, protect against, respond to, and recover from threats or acts of terrorism and natural disasters.

Enhancing Emergency Communication Infrastructure and Improving Interoperability

  • Emergency and Interoperable Communications Plans: In 2008, the DHS Office of Emergency Communications (OEC) developed the National Emergency Communications Plan in coordination with more than 150 public safety practitioners at all levels of government and across responder disciplines, which serves as the first nationwide strategic plan to improve emergency communications and drive measurable progress.
  • Urban Area Emergency Communications: In 2010, OEC worked with 60 urban areas to assess emergency communications during a real-world situation. All 60 urban areas successfully demonstrated response-level emergency communications. OEC has also trained more than 3,500 first responders, technicians, and planners to lead communications at incidents across the nation.
  • Virtual USA: Launched in 2009, this information-sharing system links disparate tools and technologies at all levels of government to share the location and operational status of critical resources through voice, video, geospatial platforms, and imagery with the homeland security and emergency management community.

Building Nuclear, Radiological, and Biological Preparedness and Response Measures

  • State and Local Radiological Emergency Preparedness: DHS's Domestic Nuclear Detection Office has trained more than 15,000 state and local officers and first responders in radiological and nuclear detection. In addition, through the Securing the Cities initiative, nearly 11,000 personnel in the New York City region have been trained in preventive radiological and nuclear detection operations and nearly 6,000 pieces of radiological detection equipment have been deployed. The Administration has proposed expanding the Securing the Cities initiative to additional high risk regions of the country.
  • BioWatch: BioWatch is a federally-managed, locally-operated, nationwide bio-surveillance system designed to detect the intentional release of aerosolized biological agents.
  • Biopreparedness Information Sharing: To improve state and local biopreparedness, DHS established the first formalized sharing of public health and intelligence information with state and local health partners in 2009. In 2010, the Department developed and conducted a series of biodefense response exercises, including one in each of the 10 FEMA regions, involving more than 1,000 state and local officials.

Private Sector Preparedness

  • Ready Campaign: FEMA promotes private sector preparedness through its Ready Business campaign, a nationwide initiative that provides materials to businesses to encourage continuity planning and crisis management. Ready Business is part of larger preparedness outreach efforts by FEMA that include the Ready campaign and Citizen Corps, to encourage Americans to prepare for emergencies in their homes, businesses, and communities.
  • Risk Mitigation Training: In total, more than 33,000 state, local and private sector security partners have taken risk mitigation training on a range of topics.

Read the Implementing 9/11 Commission Recommendations, Progress Report 2011

Last Updated: 12/21/2022
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