About 300 state and local emergency managers and coordinators and first reponders gathered Nov. 28-29 in Tyler for the third Texas Terrorism Preparedness Symposium. The symposium was sponsored by the Texas Department of Public Safety’s Division of Emergency Management and TEEX, who has helped to coordinate each of the three symposiums.
David Dewhurst, Texas Land Commissioner, who chairs Gov. Rick Perry’s Homeland Security Task Force, was the keynote speaker at the symposium. “We have a level of preparedness that I am proud of, but we’re facing things we’ve never faced before,” said Dewhurst. “Well-trained first responders and coordination among local, state and federal agencies will be essential if terrorists attack Texas.”
“We expect this event to expand Texas’ terrorism preparedness at the local, state and federal levels,” said Tom Millwee, coordinator of the state’s Division of Emergency Management (DEM). “We’ve done a lot. We’ve prepared a lot. But there remains a lot to do to enhance our preparedness.”
During the conference attendees learned about the Texas Terrorism Preparedness Program, new plans for dealing with catastrophic petroleum and petrochemical fires, and animal disease. A media panel with representatives of television, radio, and newspaper also addressed the group.
The majority of presentations at the symposium were from jurisdictions that have completed a DEM Terrorism Preparedness exercise. TEEX conducts and facilitates the exercises for DEM. Presenters shared specific lessons learned and ideas for improving preparedness.
The Texas DEM web site for WMD/Terrorism Domestic Preparedness was introduced to the participants. TEEX built and maintains the DEM website, which includes valuable information about Texas’ preparedness efforts. During the symposium participants were able to visit and explore the website, thanks to the expertise of TEEX Network Information Services personnel.