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Last week, Mr. Ridge, Director of Homeland Security, announced the new Homeland Security Advisory System. Tonight's training is about this system and the five threat levels. There are many federal alert systems in our country -- each tailored and unique to different sectors of our society: transportation, defense, agriculture, and weather, for example. These alert systems fill vital and specific requirements for a variety of situations in both the commercial and government sectors. The Homeland Security Advisory System will provide a national framework for these systems, allowing government officials and citizens to communicate the nature and degree of terrorist threats.
The Homeland Security Advisory System will provide for the Attorney General, in consultation with the Director of the Office of Homeland Security, to assign Threat Conditions, which can apply nationally, regionally, by sector or to a potential target. Cabinet Secretaries and other members of the Homeland Security Council will be consulted as appropriate. Some factors for assignment of Threat Conditions include.
Is the threat credible?
Is the threat corroborated?
Is the threat specific and/or imminent?
How grave is the threat?
Warning levels
The new system ranks threats by colors, starting with green at the bottom and followed by blue, yellow, orange and red as perceived dangers intensify. The warning level can be upgraded for the entire country or for specific regions and economic sectors - such as the nuclear industry, Homeland Security Director said.
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Low Condition - Green
Low risk of terrorist attacks. The following Protective Measures may be applied: Refining and exercising preplanned Protective Measures Ensuring personnel receive training on HSAS, departmental, or agency-specific Protective Measures; and Regularly assessing facilities for vulnerabilities and taking measures to reduce them.
= = = = Guarded Condition - Blue
General risk of terrorist attack. In addition to the previously outlined Protective Measures, the following may be applied: Checking communications with designated emergency response or command locations; Reviewing and updating emergency response procedures; and Providing the public with necessary information.
= = = = Elevated Condition - Yellow
Significant risk of terrorist attacks. In addition to the previously outlined Protective Measures, the following may be applied: Increasing surveillance of critical locations; Coordinating emergency plans with nearby jurisdictions; Assessing further refinement of Protective Measures within the context of the current threat information; and Implementing, as appropriate, contingency and emergency response plans.
= = = = High Condition - Orange
High risk of terrorist attacks. In addition to the previously outlined Protective Measures, the following may be applied: Coordinating necessary security efforts with armed forces or law enforcement agencies; Taking additional precaution at public events; Preparing to work at an alternate site or with a dispersed workforce; and Restricting access to essential personnel only.
= = = = Severe Condition - Red
Severe risk of terrorist attacks. In addition to the previously outlined Protective Measures, the following may be applied: Assigning emergency response personnel and pre-positioning specially trained teams; Monitoring, redirecting or constraining transportation systems; Closing public and government facilities; and Increasing or redirecting personnel to address critical emergency needs.
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The Homeland Security Director said the system is designed to motivate local leaders to develop emergency response plans that would include ways to inform residents about how to react to attacks. America is at yellow alert because the al-Qaeda terrorist network is trying to re-form after defeats in Afghanistan and has trained thousands of terrorists, some of whom have probably slipped into the United States, the Homeland Security Director said. The system's guidelines give government officials advice on what to do as threats grow, but no such guidance is offered for the general public. The system will be subject to a 45-day comment period, after which Homeland Security Director plans to turn it into a national framework. During a series of Washington visits in February, was ARRL's participation in a National Public Safety Telecommunications Council (NPSTC) brainstorming session. The meeting considered improved means to incorporate Amateur Radio into public safety and homeland security planning. Topics included further upgrading the level of professionalism among Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) and Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service (RACES) volunteers. Discussion focused on the possibility of forming a highly trained first-response cadre of Amateur Radio volunteers who would undergo ongoing training and accreditation. The session also touched on the need for a universally recognized identification card for amateur volunteers.
Within the scope of Homeland Security RACES and Amateur Radio involvement at the present time is not defined. Amateur Radio is being discussed at various forums within governmental agencies. As the various Federal, State, and Local emergency managers define our function, we will be advised by our Radio Officers. Currently we need to keep our gear ready, our grag-n-go kits and 72 hour kits packed and keep on training.