Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-San Bernardino) hosted a panel at the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute’s annual conference, entitled Homeland Security: Community Readiness Strategies for the Latino Community. The discussion, which coincided with National Preparedness Month and Hispanic Heritage Month, focused on strengthening communication between law enforcement, schools and hospitals in Latino communities so municipalities are prepared for extraordinary emergency situations, including natural disasters like earthquakes and wildfires, or man-made situations like the attack at the Inland Regional Center.
Rep. Aguilar moderated the panel, which included Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Associate Deputy Director, David Bowdich; Hispanic American Police Command Officers Association Executive Director, Anthony Chapa; U.S. Department of Homeland Security Assistant Secretary for State and Local Law Enforcement, Heather Fong; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Deputy Assistant Secretary for Minority Health Assistant Secretary Director, Dr. Nadine Gracia; and San Bernardino County Fire Department Chief, Mark Hartwig.
“Efficient communication is critical during extraordinary emergency situations, as we saw during the attack at the Inland Regional Center. It’s because of quality training and effective communication between our law enforcement, first responders and medical personnel that more lives weren’t lost that day,” said Rep. Aguilar. He added, “Today’s summit was important because it brought together local and national representatives to share best practices about preparedness, particularly in places like the Inland Empire where linguistic barriers may arise.”
San Bernardino County Fire Department Chief Mark Hartwig said, “Today’s panel allowed us to come together and talk about how we can work within our communities to develop plans and always be ready. San Bernardino County Fire already has important resources in place, which can be found on our website at SBCFire.org or Ready.gov. I’m glad we had a platform to share these tools and connect with other agencies about preparedness.”
During the 90 minute panel, Rep. Aguilar and summit participants discussed preparedness training for first responders, the importance of community relationships between local agencies, access to multilingual training resources, and the need to foster relationships between localities that have experienced similar situations. Rep. Aguilar remains committed to working with leaders at every level of government to ensure San Bernardino County has the resources it needs to train and prepare first responders and local agencies in the event of an emergency.