The strategies needed by first responders to identify risks and protect critical infrastructure are unlike any found within the other 15 sectors. While most of the other sectors are focused on security and resilience for fixed facilities, these measures fall short of the Emergency Services Sector (ESS) response goals and priorities. Success for the ESS, from a critical infrastructure perspective, requires that responders’ ability to plan, mitigate, and respond must be greater than locally and regionally calculated risks.
There is no such program which proactively coordinates a unified effort to assist in critical infrastructure resilience and continuity of operations for the Nation’s first responders. The lack of such a program directly affects pre-incident mitigation and planning, response efficiency and effectiveness, and rapid recovery. These conclusions are rooted in open and closed source research and direct input from the ESS partnership and first responder community.
The solution, however, can be found in the Emergency Services Sector Resilience Development Project (ESS RDP). At its core, the ESS RDP is a suite of existing resources and best practices that are specifically tailored to meet the unique resilience needs of the first responder community. Currently, two scaled down versions of the ESS RDP have been completed, one in Denver, Colorado, and another in Charlotte, North Carolina. These small scale projects not only prove the need for a national initiative, but also help to focus its development.
The ESS is working with FEMA Continuity Resources and Technical Assistance, FEMA National Preparedness, DHS Science & Technology First Responders, and Stakeholder Readiness and Exercise Section to develop an ongoing Continuity of Operations Planning (COOP) series focusing on education, awareness, increasing skills, and information sharing and validation for first responders.