Since the 10th of November 1998, our company, DomesticPreparedness.com, has had one primary mission: to help educate, and integrate, the various communities of professionals—policemen, firemen, and other first responders—working in the overall field of domestic preparedness. These previously under-appreciated American heroes are the ones we have always counted on to protect our homes and our communities, and to maintain order, in times of disaster, either natural or manmade.
In the past three years, though, the very definition of preparedness has changed significantly, and in ways not previously imagined. In 1998, awareness was the rallying call. And "not if, but when" was the message voiced by government officials who, although personally convinced of the dangers posed by international terrorism, realized it might take a "Pearl Harbor" type of incident to lift the topic to the forefront of the nation’s consciousness.
Unfortunately, that is exactly what happened. Since the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001, those responsible—at all levels of government—for protecting the U.S. homeland from attack have developed and now are executing a sophisticated series of programs that go far beyond the prevention of passenger aircraft being used as bombs, and anthrax being delivered via the U.S. postal system. Those programs—some of them already implemented, others still in the conceptual stage—take a truly comprehensive approach to homeland security that includes not only detailed plans for responding to attacks but also, and of perhaps greater importance, preventing such attacks from ever happening.
By embracing an "all hazards" approach to the development of response plans, cities, states, and the nation as a whole can react to disasters, natural or manmade, both more quickly and more effectively—and at a lower cost, in both lives and dollars.
The prevention of disasters represents a different challenge. For many years, America's businesses have been continually pushed to be more efficient, faster, better, and less expensive. Just-in-time deliveries, once the impossible dream, are now standard. But security was not built into the equation. Today, it must be.
The Same Mission, With a Broader Focus As the mission has changed, so have we. In the beginning, DomPrep.com focused on the response side of the equation. Because we worked mostly with first responders our message emphasized the presentation of information on such matters as personal protection and decontamination, detection, planning, and training. Now, thanks to the creation of our eNewsletter T.I.P.S. (Total Integrated Preparedness Solutions) and the addition of several more, and more diverse, channels to our website, we have been able to expand our previous coverage to additional communities of preparedness professionals—members of the U.S. Coast Guard, for example, and of the National Guard; FEMA (the Federal Emergency Management Agency) and NIH (the National Institutes of Health) employees; and such private-sector organizations as the American Red Cross.
By creating a number of specialized WebChannels, we quickly realized, we can organize and channel content from a large number of preparedness professional communities in a way that helps other professionals, in other preparedness communities, gain a working knowledge of the principal issues and concerns of preparedness professionals in such fields as the following:
- Fire Hazmat
- Emergency Medicine
- Law Enforcement
- Military Support
- Coast Guard
- Customs and Borders
- Building and Facility Protection
- Critical Infrastructure
- State and Local Governments
- Global Preparedness
The approach we have taken will work, we believe, because each content provider—i.e., Channel Master--is an operational professional with years of experience whose own work is primarily in the field about which he or she is writing. To provide continuity and overall guidance we hired, as editor in chief, James D. Hessman, who has more than 40 years of writing and editing experience with such respected publications as Armed Forces Journal International and the Navy League’s Sea Power Magazine.
To round out the group, John Morton, also a highly experienced professional, will manage an “Interviews” WebChannel. John will ask leaders (such as Acting Secretary of Homeland Security James M. Loy, interviewed in this issue of T.I.P.S.) from government, industry, and academia a series of questions in their various areas of jurisdiction. Their replies will be delivered either in the form of straight text, or streaming audio--or eventually, perhaps, video.
Our intention is not to drift into the arena of inside-the-beltway policies or politics. And, although the Channel Masters may from time to time discuss management concerns, grant-funding issues, and similar topics, each of them knows that the T.I.P.S. goal is to provide a diverse array of readers with the information needed to develop a Total Integrated Preparedness Solution to problems within their specific areas of responsibility.
A Preview of Future Developments It has often been said that the fifth side of the Pentagon represents industry. Without the high-tech weapons and platforms provided by the U.S. defense industrial base, America’s warfighters would be unable either to defend the American homeland itself or to protect U.S. political and economic interests overseas. As in the Department of Defense, the decisionmakers at DHS, particularly in that department’s Directorate of Science and Technology, certainly look to the strength that industry brings to the equation.
DomPrep.com also recognizes and appreciates the sophisticated systems and sensors that provide critical advantages to the nation’s preparedness professionals. However, in the race to bring the best solution to market, and to pass a set of standards that meets operational requirements, there will always be both winners and losers. It will not be DomPrep.com’s, nor T.I.P.S.'s, position to take sides, only to report the latest developments. However, debate and discussion are encouraged, and a forum for rebuttal will be online with our next issue (23 February 2005).
Last October, we tested yet another new forum, WebConference. The first effort was a big success. Dr. Peter Estacio, Peter Kant, and representatives fromaho Technology, Smiths Detection, and GenPrime all delivered 15-minute presentations on or related to the important topic of bio-agent detection. The content was presented with both streaming audio and slides, which experience shows is a very efficient way both to develop awareness and to build support for the various solutions offered by industry. Bio-Agent Protection soon will be relaunched. In addition, we are working on a number of other topics for future discussion, including the following:
- Dealing with the Dirty Bomb
- Respiratory Protection
- Technologies for Cargo Security
- Risk Assessment
- Video Surveillance
- Medical Countermeasures for CRN Incidents
- New Technologies
- Detection Devices
- Syndromic/Epidemiological Surveillance
- Medical Countermeasures for Biological Incidents
- Training & Simulation
- GIS and Homeland Security Applications
- Biometrics and Authentication
- Communications Interoperability
In conclusion, the publisher has one observation to share. Since 1998, I have had the good fortune—indeed, the privilege—of meeting many, many people from all levels of industry, government, and academia. They share one common trait that bonds all of them into a united and powerful whole. It is simply this: Anyone who considers himself or herself to be a preparedness professional shares a passion for the work in which he or she is engaged.
“Protecting the homeland” and “Responding to attacks” are not slogans. They are, rather, true guiding lights. Our intention is to provide the information that preparedness professionals need to carry out their noble mission. The channel masters, the editor in chief, and I look forward to receiving your comments, criticisms, suggestions, and recommendations on how to do our own jobs better.