In another step on the road to cross-border emergency readiness, the United States has donated 108,000 emergency response kits to Mexico. Mainly earmarked for localities along Mexico´s northern and southern borders, the material will be available for use in cases of public health and environmental disasters.
“This agreement reaffirms and establishes a greater relationship of bilateral cooperation between key agencies in Mexico and the US,” said US Ambassador Tony Garza at a Mexico City ceremony where the assitance was announced last week.
Valued at $805,000, the donated equipment includes suits, glasses, gloves and waste bags that Mexican personnel could utilize during epidemics or chemical releases.
Mexican federal authorities have established prerequisties for communities eligible to receive the equipment. Although the specific recipients of the emergency response kits still have not been announced, likely beneficiaries will be entities that have an international airport or a commercial or tourist sea port. Having a local emergency response plan already in place is an additional requirement.
Laura Gurza Jaidar, head of general coordination for Mexico´s federal office of Civil Protection, said the US donation grew out of an existing bilateral natural disaster agreement and the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America. Citing the example of Mexico´s participation in relief efforts for victims of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Gurza said US-Mexico solidarity goes both ways.
“Mexico´s support marked a difference in the lives of many people that suffered this tragedy in the US,” Gurza said.
Efforts to increase cross-border emergency response capacities have stepped up in recent months. On the US side, the US Department of Defense and Northern Command are assuming greater roles in emergency response scenarios. Also attending the Mexico City ceremony last week were Colonel Daniel Barreto, defense coordinator for the US Embassy, and Malcolm D. Johnson, chief of planning and prevention for the inter-institutional section of the US Northern Command.
Source: Agencia Reforma, January 8, 2009. Article by Benito Jimenez.