BMC Takes Steps to Enhance Homeland Security in the Baltimore Region
BALTIMORE (October 31, 2002) – The Board of Directors of the Baltimore Metropolitan Council signed the comprehensive Baltimore Region Emergency Assistance Compact at its meeting on Tuesday, October 15. Howard County Executive James N. Robey chairs the BMC Board of Directors. Other members include Anne Arundel County Executive Janet S. Owens, Baltimore City Mayor Martin J. O’Malley, Baltimore County Executive C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, Carroll County Commissioner Julia W. Gouge, and Harford County Executive James M. Harkins.
The compact provides for mutual assistance among the six member jurisdictions in managing a state of emergency. Emergency support functions include fire, law enforcement, emergency medical services, transportation, communications, public works, engineering, building inspection, planning and information assistance, mass care, health and medical services, search and rescue, or other local agency equipment and personnel as requested and provided.
"The safety and security of the region’s residents and resources have been the primary focus of the BMC Board for the past year," said Chair Robey. "BMC staff convened the Regional Emergency Preparedness Task Force to look at all aspects of preparedness and bring recommendations back to the Board. This compact is the first action item to be implemented."
The Regional Emergency Preparedness Task Force examined a wide range of issues, including evacuation, sheltering, the safety of the water supply, coordination and communications among responders, debris management, public health, police and fire activities, and public education. All jurisdictions, as well as state and other agencies were represented on the working committees. The committee chairs were drawn from all six member jurisdictions.
"Emergency preparedness is a recently realized priority in urban and rural areas all across this country. The extent to which neighboring jurisdictions can work together in crisis situations, will determine the level of safety and assistance they are able to render citizens," said Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley. "This compact is a statement that the BMC member jurisdictions understand that interdependence and are committed to making it work in our best interests."
While the Baltimore Region Emergency Assistance Compact is the first such document to emerge from the task force, others are expected to follow. The existing Fire Mutual Aid Agreement is being updated. In addition, the Northeast Maryland Waste Disposal Authority is preparing a disaster debris management plan for FEMA approval, which would expedite the handling of debris in any type of emergency.
"To our knowledge, this is the first comprehensive regional emergency assistance compact to be signed in the United States," said BMC Executive Director Paul Farragut. "This compact, and the other agreements that will follow, mean that the Baltimore region will better be able to handle any incident that might arise, whether natural or manmade."
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