The Mid-Atlantic AHF (All Hazards Forum) 2006 Post-Conference Report – released last month by the All Hazards Consortium (AHC) – probably could not have been more timely, considering the bridge collapse in Minnesota earlier this year, the fire storms now devastating numerous areas of California, and the Congressionally-mandated upgrading this year of the new “forward-leaning” Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The latest AHF Annual Report summarizes the activities and lessons learned during last year’s three-day conference, 10-12 October 2006 in Baltimore, Maryland.
The Mid-Atlantic AHF is a cross-disciplinary regional meeting designed primarily to build working relationships and improve communications between and among first-responder agencies and state and local as well as federal jurisdictions. The annual AHF is particularly noteworthy for bringing together the region’s eight homeland security directors to emphasize the conference’s focus on relationship building and communications. The purpose of the AHC is to come together in meetings such as the annual AHF to share best practices, break down cultural and organizational barriers within the emergency-response community, and develop regional initiatives. In line with the objectives of the AHC, the 2006 post-conference report spells out, in considerable detail, the consortium’s previous as well as current efforts: (a) to help clarify and prioritize state/local government preparedness and response requirements; and (b) to stimulate regionally coordinated planning, programs, and procurement policies.
A Plenary Session, and Eight Pillars of Progress
The report summarizes the opening plenary session, which featured an innovative “Homeland Security Directors’ Roundtable” discussion. Each of the panelists The bulk of the report [is] focused primarily on the AHC’s eight program pillars, which provide a framework for ongoing Consortium activities emphasized his own state’s development of information, integration, and data-fusion programs, despite the uncertain funding stream coming from the federal government. The rest of the conference, and the bulk of the report’s content, focused primarily on the AHC’s eight program pillars, which provide a framework for ongoing Consortium activities. The report groups its summaries in line with the conference’s eight major “session” categories: border and transportation security; critical infrastructure protection; emergency management; grants and procurement; health and medical readiness; information sharing and intelligence; law enforcement and public safety; and communications and interoperability.
An additional “bonus” section of the report summarizes content from the Urban-Rural Task Force’s “evacuation” conference – held in Davis, West Virginia, 23-24 August 2006; the aim of that conference was to foster new regional evacuation strategies and solutions – another topic particularly germane today throughout almost the entire state of California. Among the many operationally important preparedness and response topics and insights gleaned from and developed during the AHF conference and report were presentations and discussions on: the requirement for alternate energy sources; the need to strengthen relationships between private-sector and local government organizations, particularly with respect to supply chain support for disaster relief; regional SNS (Strategic National Stockpile) distribution readiness; fusion approaches and tools such as the WebEOC; tools for risk analysis and for the management of critical asset information; approaches to identity management; the professional certification of grant managers; and the recently upgraded priority to develop better community-based planning.
The AHC is a non-profit organization funded by National Capital Region (NCR) Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) grants. The consortium is guided by representatives from the District of Columbia and the seven states in the Mid-Atlantic Region: Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia. The AHC mission is to help create new resources and funding opportunities for the states to support regional multi-state collaboration efforts among all of the stakeholders involved, including local, state, and federal government representatives, the private sector, higher education, and non-profit/volunteer organizations. The AHC hosted the first annual All Hazards Forum (AHF) in Baltimore in 2004. The 2006 AHF report was developed and made available thanks in large part to sponsorship from IBM, one of the founding corporate sponsors of the AHC. The 2007 AHF will be held in Baltimore on November 7-8
For additional information: About the All-Hazards Consortium, see http://www.ahcusa.org/
About the 2007 All-Hazards Forum, see http://www.allhazardsforum.com/index.html
About the 2006 AHC Post-Conference Report, see http://www.allhazardsforum.com/downloads/All_Hazards_Forum_2006_Report.pdf
John F. Morton
John F. Morton is the Strategic Advisor for DomPrep. He is also the Homeland Security Team Lead for the Project on National Security Reform (PNSR). A member of the DomPrep team since its founding, he has served as managing editor for writer assignments and interviewer for scores of DomPrep audio interviews.