THE MAGAZINE

Homeland Security

A new Missouri law requires that the state set up a vaccination program for first responders who will be deployed to disaster areas as a result of bioterrorism. Participation in the program is voluntary except for those first responders identified by their employers as personnel who cannot safely perform their emergency duties without the vaccinations. A new Michigan law requires the state to establish and maintain a pandemic flu contingency plan. A Wyoming measure creates a task force to study biosecurity issues.

Some states have created new crimes related to terrorism. For example, in Illinois, lawmakers defined endangering the food or water supply as acts of terrorism, while a Pennsylvania law makes tampering with or destroying crops a crime of ecoterrorism.

Other states addressed communications systems for first responders. For example, a new California law requires that state officials provide an annual report to lawmakers on the state’s interoperable public-safety communications network. Prior law required that such a system be established using federally specified frequencies to ensure that first responders could communicate during an emergency. The report required under this new law will serve as a strategic plan and will include timelines for completion. A Nevada law requires that the state set standards for interoperable communications systems with an emphasis on public safety radio systems.

A new Oklahoma law requires that cities and towns throughout the state develop evacuation plans. The plans must include instructions on how to evacuate all citizens in the case of a disaster and must be reviewed annually. The evacuation plans will include risk assessments, training of personnel, and annual exercises. Each town will be required to maintain an office of emergency management, which will be responsible for communications, warnings, and damage assessments. Town citizens will be given a copy of the plan.

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