Tuesday, January 15th 2002
President George W. Bush
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC 20500
Dear President Bush:
As you prepare the homeland security portions of your fiscal year 2003 budget, the undersigned members of the Partnership for Community Safety are writing to highlight some of the elements we believe are important in preparing our nation's communities for a biological, chemical or nuclear attack.
The Partnership agrees there are specific improvements that can be made to get our communities ready for the threat of terrorism, such as communications. There is a critical need for funding to upgrade, modernize and link frontline responder communications systems and address interoperability among fire services, law enforcement, ambulance and EMS, hospitals and public health officials. In the event of a major disaster or terrorist event, reliable and real-time information are invaluable.
We were pleased to hear Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge recently emphasize the importance of community planning, coordination and training. Clearly, the need for planning and coordinating a response is a priority and training will allow us to improve on the plans developed. The Partnership also believes an effective public health and medical response plan depends upon the ability of individual clinicians, field providers, and public health departments to quickly detect, accurately diagnose, rapidly contain and effectively treat an uncommon disease. As such, improvements need to be made in our capacity for disease surveillance and laboratory identification systems.
Further, our frontline responders deserve to know that they can go about treating victims without jeopardizing their own health or safety. America's firefighters, paramedics and other EMS professionals, emergency physicians, all other physicians, nurses, public health department staff, hospital staff and other frontline responders must be equipped with the necessary protective equipment and trained in its proper use.
The Partnership for Community Safety, comprised of firefighter, public health and health care provider associations, announced its formation on December 11, 2001. The purpose of this unprecedented partnership is to foster the kind of relationships and collaboration needed at the national, state and local levels in order to effectively cope with a terrorist event. We believe any type of terrorist attack is a localized event with national implications.
As the first session of the 107th Congress adjourned, legislation was passed which demonstrated Congress is prepared to take the first step toward ensuring our communities are prepared. We applaud the administration's efforts to take further steps in the direction of community-based readiness.
Mr. President, The Partnership for Community Readiness stands willing to work with you and the administration in further protecting Americans from the threat of biological, chemical and nuclear attacks.
American Ambulance Association
American College of Emergency Physicians
American College of Physicians - American Society of Internal Medicine
American Hospital Association
American Medical Association
American Organization of Nurse Executives
American Public Health Association
Association of American Medical Colleges
International Association of Fire Chiefs
National Association of County and City Health Officials
National Association of State Emergency Medical Services Directors