Looks like “sit tight during an emergency” wasn’t good enough advice for the Post’s editorial board, who criticized emergency preparedness in the Washington region and called for a regional emergency authority body.

The mayor has the authority to order an evacuation from the city, but beyond that there is no single entity with authority to advise the public in a fast-moving emergency. Instead, there are 17 local jurisdictions and the federal government sharing information (to be sure, a good thing) but each able to call its own shots. A more sensible system, as we’ve pointed out before, is one in which there are designated, trained staff people to collect information, make decisions and inform the public. New York City has such a system. So does London.

The hesitation of Washington’s jurisdictions to cede turf in decision making to a proper regional authority is shortsighted and could someday exact a terrible price.

I’m tempted to say this is rather dramatic, but the board is right—-coordinating an emergency response would be easier if one group were in charge, rather than multiple groups getting in on the action. But who? Should D.C. just call the shots? Or should the board members be pulled from various local entities?

Photo by ElvertBarnes via Flickr/Creative Commons Attribution Generic 2.0 License