Wednesday, December 7, 2011

HR 1411 Markup Hearing - Metropolitan Medical Response Program

Yesterday the House Homeland Security Committee updated their schedule for the remainder of this week. There is now a markup hearing of the Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Response, and Communications scheduled for Thursday morning that will consider three homeland security bills, including HR 1411, the Metropolitan Medical Response System Program Act of 2011. This bill does not currently contain any chemical security related provisions, but it would be a good vehicle to begin addressing some emergency response planning issues for high-risk chemical facilities.

There is an amendment in the form of a substitute on the agenda for HR 1411 being proposed by the Subcommittee Chair. It changes the title used for the Chief Medical Officer of the Department. It also increases the authorized appropriations for the program from $41 to $42 million. No substantive changes were made to the coordination or emergency planning provisions of the bill.

I made some detailed suggestions for CFATS related emergency response provisions that should be included in MMRS authorization legislation when a similar bill was introduced in the last session. With markup of this legislation coming up, I’ll repeat them again. They included:

• Requiring each MMRS organization to establish a CFATS planning team, members of the team would include emergency response and medical members who have completed Chemical-Terrorism Vulnerability Information (CVI) training/certification;

• Requiring each CFATS facility with release-toxic COI on site to provide a list of all such chemicals to the local MMRS CFATS planning team;

• Requiring the MMRS CFATS planning team to develop a plan for dealing with chemical casualties for exposure to each of the release-toxic COI that have been identified in the team’s service area;

• Requiring the MMRS CFATS planning team to be involved in the planning for emergency response exercises conducted at CFATS facilities in the team’s service area; and

• Requiring DHS Chemical Facility Inspectors to include a review of MMRS CFATS planning team efforts in any inspection/evaluation of a CFATS facility containing release-toxic COI.

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