New credentialing system for Ohio private-sector partners is meant to aid disaster response

Associated Press

An Ohio program intended to strengthen disaster response is adding a credentialing system to make it easier for certain private-sector partners to deliver supplies and medication in restricted areas during an emergency.

Officials say private-sector partners that choose to participate in the Emergency Partner Credentialing System will be able to seek free credentials vetted through Ohio Homeland Security, and then law enforcement officers or others controlling access to a disaster area would be able to use a shared database to verify specific credentials for people associated with those partners.

Continue Reading Below

For example, it could help a pharmacy chain more easily get needed medications to stranded residents or aid a retailer in delivering stockpiles of bottled water.

The state is recruiting participants now and hopes to have the credentialing system in place by the start of next year.

Public safety Director John Born is scheduled to discuss the credentialing and other efforts Tuesday at Cleveland State University during a regional meeting for the Ohio Public Private Partnership, known as OP3.

Speakers from the school, the FBI, a communications company and a home-improvement retailer also are slated to share insights about disaster preparedness, response and recovery.

OP3 was created in 2013 to improve disaster response after storms left hundreds of thousands of people without electricity during a summer heat wave the previous year. The program is intended to boost cooperation and help everyone get things back to normal when a disaster occurs.

It now includes more than 175 businesses, state and local government agencies, colleges and associations, according to the Ohio Department of Public Safety.