Emergency responders are the front line of defense against catastrophic terrorist attacks on US soil. Advanced systems and cutting-edge technologies can increase responders' capabilities, or make their resources go farther in time of crisis, but there is a disconnection of understanding between those who produce the systems and technologies, and those who need them at the local level. Local jurisdictions rarely have a budget to support or influence technology development and acquisition. The laboratories, agencies, universities, or industries that develop these emerging technologies are responding to requirements from different markets (usually larger) than individual local jurisdictions. Indeed, responders may not even know of new technology development, availability, or relevance to responders’ needs. Consequently, technology developers have limited insight into what technologies responders need. Local, and even state, budgets by themselves are not sufficiently large or coordinated to influence technology development towards the needs of responders, without the assistance of federal direction and funding. If federal direction and funding of technology is to produce and deliver useful capabilities for local responders, federal technology planners must understand the needs of responders, and develop technology plans to meet those needs. Project Responder's National Technology Plan for Emergency Response provides a foundation and building blocks for technology planning, to focus federal research and development investments toward improving the capabilities of state and local emergency responders.
Since April 2001, the Oklahoma City National Memorial Institute for the Prevention of Terrorism has funded an effort by Hicks &Associates, Inc. and the Terrorism Research Center, Inc., aimed ultimately at improving local, state, and federal emergency responders’ capabilities for mitigating the effects of chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or explosive/ incendiary (CBRNE) terrorism. This effort, titled “Project Responder,” began by developing an understanding of how state and local responders view their current capabilities, shortfalls, and needs. This paper discusses some of the results of this first phase of the effort that has resulted in a comprehensive report titled "Emergency Responders’ Needs, Goals, and Priorities." This paper addresses two of the capabilities from that report which we believe are of most interest to this conference. There are ten other capabilities discussed in the report, which may also be of interest.