March 1, as Secretary Tom Ridge unveiled the National Incident Management System (NIMS), the American Public Works Association (APWA) praised the department for its efforts to integrate all of the various disciplines involved in emergency response. "This system establishes the backbone for an organized and efficient response," said APWA Executive Director Peter B. King, "and is a critical step in achieving interoperability of both communications and activities. Public works and other first responders can now begin to speak the same language."
Public works officials across the country recognize the need for a standardized incident management process that all responders can use to coordinate and conduct local responses. "This is where the rubber meets the road. Now the challenge facing DHS is to assure that all responders are trained and familiar with the NIMS. Public works and many other disciplines will need training in the incident response system, one that is already familiar to fire, police and emergency services personnel. There must be a concerted effort to implement a comprehensive and substantial training program," said APWA Homeland Security Task Force Chairman and Public Works Director Brian Usher from Zion, Illinois. "We recognize this challenge and offer to work with DHS to bring the NIMS into practice for all responders."