The Department of Homeland Security in the United States, created after the September 11 attacks, has formulated a system of color-coded rankings to warn American citizens of terrorist threats. Homeland Security Presidential Directive-3, issued by President Bush in March 2002, created a five-tier advisory system relating to terrorist threat assessment. The five-level warning system is designed to provide guidance to law enforcement agencies, citizens, and the private sector.
According to the directive, the following questions will be asked when making a decision about which threat condition to issue:
1. Low Condition (Green). Green indicates a low risk of terrorist attacks. Federal departments and agencies should consider the following general measures in addition to the agency-specific Protective Measures:
2. Guarded Condition (Blue). Blue indicates there is a general risk of terrorist attacks. In addition to the protective measures in the green threat condition, government bodies should consider the following general measures:
3. Elevated Condition (Yellow). An Elevated Condition indicates a significant risk of terrorist attack. In addition to the previous precautionary measures, federal agencies should:
4. High Condition (Orange). A High Condition is declared when there is a high risk of terrorist attacks. In addition to the previous measures, federal agencies should:
5. Severe Condition (Red). A Severe Condition reflects a severe risk of terrorist attacks. Under most circumstances, the Protective Measures for a Severe Condition are not intended to be sustained for substantial periods of time. In addition to the previous protective measures, federal agencies should:
Federal agencies have differing capability levels of responding to national threats caused by natural catastrophes or weapons of mass destruction. The four capability levels are:
Level One (Baseline Capability Level) This category is described as the basic level of equipment and operational capabilities that jurisdictions require to conduct certain defensive operations to perform in a contaminated environment. This can be generally defined as a Basic HazMat Equipment Capability Level. Emergency response should know when to take self-protective measures and when to take steps to protect the general population from further contamination. The ability to make on-scene assessments and call for mutual aid, as needed, is also consistent with the requirements at this level.
Level Two (Hazardous Materials Operations Capability Level) In addition to meeting the requirements set forth in Level One, Level two requires the emergency response to meet a hazardous materials equipment capability need and to have the requisite personnel trained and certified in accordance with OSHA. This can be generally defined as a Modest Increase in Hazmat Equipment Capability Level.
Level Three (Technicians Capability Level) Emergency responders will have the necessary equipment and have advanced knowledge of operations to carry out personal protective measures, initiate advanced detection and monitoring techniques, demonstrate a capability to establish mass casualty decontamination systems, provide medical triage, and set up a transport system for definitive medical care. This can be generally defined as a Moderate Increase in HazMat Equipment Capability Level.
Level Four (Advanced Operations and Technicians Capability Level) Emergency responders have met or surpassed the equipment requirements associated with the capabilities found in Levels 1-3 and will meet or surpass all emergency response equipment requirements for their jurisdiction. This can be generally defined as a High Level of HazMat Equipment Capability Level.