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Essential Public Network launches

September 28 '07: In the aftermath of disasters and emergencies, many communities must find ways to recover without the help of state or federal assistance for the first 72 hours. To support response operations, businesses within that community can provide valuable assistance - with existing resources in the location of the recovery process - through cooperation with local, state and federal emergency responders and first responders. One of the ways to help coordinate such resources and information is through a network much like the Essential Public Network, launched today by the Corporate Crisis Response Officers Association.

The EPN is a web-based information-sharing portal which can be designed to meet the specific needs of the community using it, officials said. The information being passed through the portal is secure; voice, data, imaging and video can be shared and disseminated.

During the press conference at the National Press Club in Washington D.C. representatives from the federal, state and local emergency management agencies gathered with their corporate and non-profit counterparts for the event.

National Advisory Board Chairman and Former Homeland Security Undersecretary Asa Hutchinson, led the conference expressing the need to a more integrated approach for local businesses, corporations and non-profit organizations to share information and coordinate their response.

"Our national security is only as strong as our least prepared community," Hutchinson said. Using the Essential Public Network, organizations and businesses will be able "to take a leadership role in leveraging local resources during the initial 72 hours of a crisis situation."

Also on hand were Todd Stottlemeyer, President of the National Federation of Independent Business and Bill Mills, CEO of the Christian Appalachian Project - a grass-roots organization which works to organize response and relief efforts.

Stottlemeyer said that about 70 percent of all Americans are employed by small businesses and that by leveraging their assets and resources through collaborative partnerships, communities could become more prepared to mobilize and respond within the first 72 hours.

Mills added to Stottlemeyer's comments saying that what drives local relief efforts is a desire to engage and improve community preparedness and response capabilities.

"The government has an obvious and primary role to play in a crisis response situation," Mills continued. "But so does the local business sector and community relief efforts. ... Our mission is to arm these leaders - the ones on the ground during those initial daunting hours - with the tools they need during an emergency situation."

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