Mercyhurst PSI drives support for public safety business coalition

EDITOR’S NOTE: The Mercyhurst College Public Safety Institute (PSI) and Northwestern Pennsylvania Region II Emergency Response Group (ERG) meet today in an ambitious attempt to partner with the regional business community to improve public safety. PSI and ERG are proposing the formation of a “public safety business coalition.” Following are proposal highlights:

Background:
“Private sector preparedness is not a luxury; it is a cost of doing business in the post-9/11 world. It is ignored at a tremendous cost in lives, money, and national security” (National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, 2004). This information clearly points out that the “private sector” is generally not as effective in preparing for extreme emergencies as they could be. The report went on to state, “It is well known that approximately 85% of that infrastructure which we consider to be ‘critical’ is owned and operated by the private sector.” Moreover, the systems and key resources operated by the private sector are integral to the safety and well being of all citizens. In this sense, public safety is everyone’s business.

Overview of Proposal:
Agencies Involved:
The Mercyhurst College Public Safety Institute (PSI) has been training first responders and providing logistical support to their efforts for several years. In the case of police training, this education has been offered for approximately 20 years.

The Northwestern Pennsylvania Region Two Emergency Response Group (ERG) is comprised of five counties in northwestern Pennsylvania: Crawford, Warren, Erie, Venango and Forest. The ERG has worked closely with the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency and numerous other public safety agencies, both paid and volunteer, to greatly improve the level of safety in this region.

The Pittsburgh Regional Business Coalition for Homeland Security (Pittsburgh Business Coalition) is the first organized effort officially linking public safety assets to private enterprise. Started by Westinghouse and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) in 2004, the Coalition has grown into a vibrant organization including scores of businesses and governmental agencies.

Vision:
This proposal would allow the PSI to partner with the Region Two ERG and northwest Pennsylvania businesses to improve the overall operational safety of these private enterprises. The highly successful Pittsburgh Regional Business Coalition for Homeland Security would be the model.

Potential Safety “Products:”
Obviously, most successful businesses already have inspections, safety assets and contingency plans in place. However, these efforts need to be continuously upgraded. Furthermore, most of these safety plans (in companies where they do exist) may not be sufficient. In consideration of the obvious need for safety services to the public sector, the PSI proposes to implement a “Business Coalition” component to the already successful Pennsylvania Region Two Emergency Response Group (ERG). Some of the proposed services to business partnerships could include:

BEACON (Business Emergency Communications Network) alerts area businesses concerning emerging threats such as weather emergencies, hazardous spills, active shooters and other serious concerns affecting business operations and staff/customer safety.
PARR (Private Assets for Region Responders) provides the business community with a database of items required in the time of an emergency such as safety personnel, equipment, supplies and facilities.
Periodic business meetings to discuss safety concerns.
Building/property security assessments: An unbiased evaluation of building conditions and operating systems.
Crime prevention education: Instruction on the techniques and resources to prevent criminal activity in or around your business.
Employee background checks: Provide assistance in performing employee background checks.
Process evaluations/gap analysis. Retail theft prevention/education.
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