Department of Emergency Management

and Homeland Security

 

 

 

At a Glance

 

JAMES M. THOMAS, Commissioner

Wayne Sandford, Deputy Commissioner

Established – 2004

Statutory authority – CGS Chapter 517, Title 28

Central office 25 Sigourney Street - 6th FL,

Hartford, CT 06106

Number of employees - 85

Recurring operating expenses - 4,347,211

Organizational structure - Office of the Commissioner; Emergency Preparedness; Finance and Administration; Strategic Planning and Grants Management; Domestic Terrorism; Urban Search and Rescue.

 

Mission

The Mission of the Department of Emergency Management and Homeland Security is to direct and coordinate all available resources to protect the life and property of the citizens of Connecticut in the event of a disaster or crisis, through a collaborative program of prevention, planning, preparedness, response, recovery, and public education.

 

Statutory Responsibility

     The Department of Emergency Management and Homeland Security is responsible for coordinating with state and local government personnel, agencies, authorities and the private sector to ensure adequate planning, equipment, training and exercise activities by such personnel, agencies, authorities and the private sector with regard to homeland security; coordinating, and as may be necessary, consolidating homeland security communications and communications systems of the state government with state and local government personnel, agencies, authorities, the general public and the private sector; distributing and, as may be appropriate, coordinating the distribution of information and security warnings to state and local government personnel, agencies, authorities and the general public; and establishing standards and security protocols for the use of any intelligence information.

 

Improvements/Achievements 2005-06

 

·         New Regional Planning and Preparedness Boundaries

     In September of 2005, Governor Rell signed and executed Executive Order Number Ten, establishing the National Incident Management System (NIMS) as the standard system within the State of Connecticut for the management of domestic incidents that affect the health, welfare, safety and security of the state’s citizens. A key component to achieving the objectives of the Governor’s Executive Order Ten is the establishment of emergency planning and preparedness regions that would effectively coordinate planning, training and response across all disciplines.  Calling on the Emergency Management and Homeland Security Coordinating Council (EMHSCC) Regional Boundary Subcommittee, DEMHS set out to reorganize the regional planning boundaries.

     Ultimately, the Subcommittee recommended the creation of five (5) new Emergency Preparedness Regions, which were then approved by the EMHSCC in August 2005. 

 

  • National Incident Management System (NIMS) Compliance

     In September of 2005, Governor Rell signed and executed Executive Order Number Ten. The federal Department of Homeland Security requires compliance with the National Incident Management System (NIMS) in order for states to qualify for certain federal funds. DEMHS developed a NIMS Implementation Plan, dated September 22, 2005, designed to ensure that the agency had fully incorporated the NIMS into all its emergency response plans, procedures, and policies.  The Implementation Plan also provides guidance for all DEMHS Divisions to ensure that personnel are appropriately trained in the NIMS and prepared to effectively and efficiently execute DEMHS’ duties under the National Response Plan.

 

  • Interoperable Communication

     One of the most critical issues facing public safety administrators today is the ability to provide reliable, interagency communications. The Department of Emergency Management and Homeland Security continued the efforts of its predecessor agencies, by expanding and enhancing the ICALL/ITAC radio system. More than 1,100 portable 800 MHz radios and chargers have been purchased and distributed to all fire chiefs, municipal police chiefs, directors of emergency management services organizations, and local emergency management directors. The distribution of these radios provides, for the first time, communications connectivity and interoperability at the command level. In addition, DEMHS provided funds to the Department of Public Safety to upgrade three tower sites around the state.

 

  • Evacuation and Sheltering/Mass Care Planning

     In Connecticut, evacuation and sheltering/mass care planning began in early November 2005. At that time, Governor Rell directed DEMHS to work in conjunction with the Department of Public Safety and the Department of Transportation to develop evacuation and mass sheltering plans for Connecticut. In addition, the federal Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has directed all states to develop evacuation and mass sheltering plans, and submit them to DHS by no later than January 17, 2006.

 

  • Exercises/Drills

     During the summer and fall of 2005, the Department of Emergency Management and Homeland Security held a series of three hurricanes, an ice storm exercise, a radiological exercise, and a host community exercise to test Connecticut’s preparedness and response capabilities.

     Also, during the first half of 2006, DEMHS has conducted or taken part in a number preparedness drills, including a federal hurricane preparedness drill, a state hurricane preparedness drill and a state radiological preparedness drill.

 

  • Public Education

     DEMHS has pursued an extensive and aggressive public education campaign, including numerous presentations by the Commissioner, Deputy Commissioner, and/or other key DEMHS staff to state, regional and local public and private entities.

     Among other education initiatives in 2005, in collaboration with DPH, DEMHS prepared and distributed in fourteen major Sunday newspapers throughout the state, a brochure entitled “Connecticut Guide to Emergency Preparedness.”  These twelve-page, four-color resource manuals were distributed to nearly 840,000 Connecticut households.

     Also, in the summer of 2006, DEMHS launched an extensive public education campaign addressing the issues of disaster preparedness and domestic terrorism.

 

  • Connecticut Television Network Initiative

     In 2005, DEMHS and CT-N, the state public affairs network, worked cooperatively to install and provide live broadcasts from the Emergency Operations Center during crises.  The broadcasts will provide increased communications and information sharing with the general public during emergencies. This collaborative effort was tested successfully during an August 2005 hurricane exercise.

 

  • TOPOFF 3

     Three months after the agency’s inception, from April 4, 2005 through April 8, 2005, DEMHS led the coordination of numerous other state, federal, local and private agencies in participation in TOPOFF 3, the latest in a series of national security exercises mandated by Congress and sponsored by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.  DEMHS staff worked with state and federal partners to design and develop the TOPOFF 3 exercise, which was based on a terrorist chemical attack on New London, Connecticut, and a simultaneous smallpox attack in New Jersey.  

 

  • Connecticut Intelligence Center

     The DEMHS Statewide Anti-Terrorism Task Force is now co-located with the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force, in an effort to streamline investigations and response to terrorism-related allegations and incidents.  A key component of this investigative and law enforcement asset created in 2005 is the Connecticut Intelligence Center (“CTIC”), a multi-agency collaborative operation that includes representatives of the FBI, DEMHS, Connecticut State Police, municipal law enforcement agencies and the U.S. Coast Guard. 

     CTIC collects, analyzes and disseminates both criminal and terrorism related intelligence to all law enforcement agencies in Connecticut.  Serving as a statewide central resource to affect intelligence sharing, CTIC also acts to identify emerging threats and trends.  CTIC produces a number of intelligence reports and bulletins, including the CTIC Weekly Briefing and has conducted three seminars for state and local law enforcement professionals. The seminars have helped increase the knowledge of local law enforcement professionals in dealing with terrorist prevention and incidents.

 

  • Critical Infrastructure Unit

     Working in conjunction with the federal Department of Homeland Security (DHS), private industries and local municipalities, this Unit of DEMHS has brought $850,000 in grants to Connecticut through the Buffer Zone Protection Program (“BZPP.”)  The purpose of this program is to enhance the abilities of local and state law enforcement agencies to improve physical security at sites deemed “critical’ by the federal DHS.  This Unit has completed the first phase of the BZPP, identifying seventeen sites and providing resources to support the security of the sites. 

     The Unit also continues to provide security assessments for the critical infrastructure of the state.  In a collaborative effort with the State Police Emergency Service Unit, the Critical Infrastructure Unit completed security assessments of the main Connecticut Transit bus depot sites, in response to the terrorist bombings in London.  A comprehensive and detailed security assessment was produced resulting in immediate security improvements to the facilities.

 

  • Urban Search and Rescue

     The Urban Search and Rescue Team (USAR) is comprised of 140 volunteer members from numerous local and state agencies, as well as private organizations. The team is equipped and continues to train to respond to any natural or human-made disaster that may strike Connecticut.

     In April of 2005, the USAR Team successfully participated in TOPOFF 3, working jointly with USAR teams from Massachusetts and New Jersey. USAR’s mission during this drill was to search for, locate and recover victims within a simulated five story building collapse (rubble pile), built specifically for the drill.