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Kansas gains emergency management accreditation


TOPEKA (AP) -- Kansas has obtained national accreditation for the agency that oversees the state's preparations for emergencies and its responses to disasters, officials said Monday.

Gov. Sam Brownback had a news conference Monday to celebrate the Division of Emergency Management's five-year accreditation by the Emergency Management Accreditation Program.

The program, based in Lexington, Ky., is a nonprofit group that sets standards for emergency preparedness and allows emergency managers to assess state and local policies and preparedness plans. Kansas is among 28 states that are accredited, and others include Colorado, Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska and Oklahoma.

Brownback called accreditation "an important milestone."

"Having the best emergency management and preparedness possible is a priority for us in the state of Kansas," Brownback said. "This means saving lives, and that's critical."

The program's standards address more than 100 issues, such as whether emergency communications systems are adequately tested and whether plans spell out which agency is responsible for individual services.

Angee Morgan, the division's deputy director, said Kansas received high marks for maintaining a registry of vulnerable residents who would have special needs in an emergency. The registry started in 2007.

She also said the state was recognized for a credentialing program that's meant to ensure that the most appropriate responders go to the scene of a disaster and have the correct equipment with them.