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Ref: Mass governor announces new HLS improvement plan

Boston Herald

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Monday, September 24, 2007



Homeland security report calls for improved communication
By Globe Staff

Three large-scale evacuation centers, a statewide text-messaging alert system, and inspections of all smaller chemical facilities -- those are some of the steps Massachusetts can take to improve its homeland security, according to a report released today by the Patrick administration.

"We have created, with the advice and help of our many federal, state and local partners, a comprehensive strategy for homeland security in Massachusetts," Governor Deval Patrick said in a statement. "The strategy is aimed at preparing the state to effectively prevent or respond to disasters -- both natural and manmade."

The report stresses that the most important step the state can take is to improve communications between first responders and state and local officials. It also calls for the consolidation of the evacuation plans of Boston with those in other cities and towns as well as modernizing the government's preparation for and management of crises.

Juliette Kayyem, undersecretary for homeland security, said that while local communities have learned lessons from the Sept. 11 attacks and Hurricane Katrina, only the state can coordinate large-scale disaster management. The state must focus on defending systems that would have regionwide repercussions if attacked, she said.

"As state homeland security funds from the federal government decline, the state’s obligation to its citizens requires a developed and comprehensive approach to homeland security that also addresses the needs of citizens who may need extra assistance in an emergency, such as those with disabilities," Kayyem said in a statement.

© 2007 The New York Times Company

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