Iowa Congressman Tom Latham held his annual Iowa Community Conference today (Thursday) in Ames, and the topic was Homeland Security. The morning featured panels on the risks and challenges of homeland security, and the federal- state and local responses. Latham says we know when you call 9-1-1 you don’t get the FBI or CIA in Washington, you get local folks who had better have the kind of equipment and training to respond to any crisis, be it terrorism or the kind of natural disasters we’ve had this past week. Latham serves on the Appropriations Committee’s subcommittee on Homeland Security, and says they’ve determined that 80-percent of Homeland Security money must go to local communities and their first responders. That way, the people on the front line of any disaster, natural or man-made will have the communications systems, bulletproof vests, respirators and other gear they may need to respond. Latham praised Iowa Central Community College in Fort Dodge for its Homeland Security Training Center. They’re “training trainers,” he explains, to go out into communities and teach explosives specialists, law enforcement, E-M-Ts, any kind of person who might be involved in a first response to a crisis. The program’s already trained nearly four-thousand people and will be expanded, Latham says. Coming from a small town as he does himself, Latham says you don’t have the resources to pay for this kind of training so the community college program makes such resources available to communities across the state. Afternoon speakers talked about successful grants to get homeland-security funding and pout it to use. Latham’s yearly conferences have focused in the past on topics including immigration, housing shortages, energy deregulation, anti-drug concerns and unemployment.
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