DHS Unveils National Response Plan

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After two years of work, the Bush administration on Thursday released national emergency response standards for states and local governments that it hopes will stem the confusion and turf battles that followed the Sept. 11 terror attacks (search).

The National Response Plan (search) gives local responders the main responsibility for managing emergencies, with the federal government intervening only when the incident exceeds local or state capabilities.

The plan is the result of two years of studies and commentary from officials and experts who, after the 2001 terror attacks, debated how to react to national emergencies. It sets training and communications standards for responders at all levels of government and offers similar suggestions for the private sector.

Specifically, it promises:

—Primary responsibility for local responders — including fire, police, medical and public health authorities — to manage incidents, with federal involvement only after emergencies exceed local or state abilities.

—Timely federal response and support during natural disasters and terrorist attacks that result in mass casualties, damage or disruption.

—Coordination among federal response agencies at the field, regional and headquarters levels.

Spokespeople for the governor's association and the U.S. Conference of Mayors (search) did not immediately return phone calls for comment.