Mary Kemp is currently the Homeland Security Coordinator in the Dallas, TX regional office. Mary started at EPA in 1985 and has worked in the asbestos, superfund, and air programs.
This past weekend my son received his Eagle Scout award from the Boy Scouts of America. He received this award with four other scouts, most of which he has been in scouting with since he was a tiger scout. As a parent, it's truly an honor to see your son receive scouting's highest award. Each of the five Eagle Scouts remarked on the positive experiences they received from scouting and how scouting had changed their lives.
The Boy Scouts of America's motto is “Be Prepared.” I reflect on how EPA has become more prepared since September 11, 2001. Prior to 9-11, we understood that it had a role through the Federal Response Plan to conduct hazardous material collections. The training for this role occurred primarily through our Superfund Removal/Emergency Response program. After 9-11, it became apparent that during a major disaster potentially all programs within EPA will be required to respond. During an emergency or crisis, the citizens of the United States want to know how clean their air, water, and land in addition to clean-up of hazardous materials. These determinations affect the health of their families and sometimes must be answered before people can rebuild their lives.
EPA has made monumental efforts within the Superfund program to improve response capabilities and train staff on disaster response protocols. The Water program has been actively working with water utilities. Internally, EPA has been conducting tabletop exercises to further work with staffs on discussing “what-if” scenarios. EPA created an Office of Homeland Security to further aid in the coordination efforts between the various Offices within EPA and other federal agencies. EPA has also been conducting research into areas of decontamination, water, risk, and response.
Like the Boy Scouts of America, we at EPA want to be more prepared.