I want to salute our entire community for the outpouring of local support and generosity following Hurricane Katrina. The American Red Cross, the YWCA, United Way of Allen County, Salvation Army, our faith-based community, and other social service agencies have put forth a great team effort to assist with relief efforts. It’s great to live in a community that cares for others in need.
The events of the past few weeks have made us aware once again at the local level of the importance of emergency preparedness and response. I recently issued a challenge for all of us to work together to build a world-class disaster communication response system.
To help meet the challenge, we have created a Disaster Communication Response BEST Team (Building Excellent Systems through Teams) to explore ways to enhance communication systems in a major, community wide emergency. Lou Dollive, president and general manager at ITT Industries and Wayne Iurillo, site executive at Raytheon will co-chair the team.
We have an excellent emergency communications system in place, but we need to be the best. The City invests $100 million each year for public safety. I believe the challenge for our community is to use our leadership role as an innovative city in military radio and communication systems to develop a world-class system for disaster response.
The BEST Team will identify the key elements of a world-class disaster response communications system. The team will propose a plan of implementation with a timetable and estimated costs that addresses a world-class system, redundancies and low-tech alternatives for backup. Recommendations will be presented to me by December 15.
We must be more self-sufficient at the local level. When there is a flood, tornado or other emergency, we have to act locally. We cannot wait for the state and federal government. They are good partners, but local first responders have to be organized and ready to respond in the crucial first 72 hours of a disaster.
I look forward to the team’s recommendations. We are committed to being the safest city of our size in the country. We have a great team in place working each day to protect our community.
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