SALT LAKE CITY -- Whether it is a flood, an earthquake or a man-made disaster, the state has a division for it.
The Utah Division of Emergency Management is the new name given to the former Utah Division of Homeland Security.
Col. Keith Squires, deputy public safety commissioner and Homeland Security director, said the name change eliminates public confusion.
The name change was part of House Bill 80, sponsored by Rep. Curt Oda, R-Clearfield, and Sen. Jerry Stevenson, R-Layton, passed by lawmakers in the 2011 Legislative session.
"The name needed changing because there was a lot of confusion," Oda said.
That confusion included residents calling the division thinking it could help with immigration, security at airports, work visas and scams. Those are law enforcement and federal government issues.
Joe Dougherty, public information officer for the division, said he received dozens of phone calls and emails each week from people seeking information on issues that the division does not deal with.
The Homeland Security name came several years after Sept. 11, 2001, he said, but the emergency management name "is one that will stick."
Stevenson said the current name is the same that similar divisions have in other states that coordinate with federal and local emergency management offices.
Stevenson, a former Layton mayor, said it is good to know who is in charge when there is an emergency that affects a large number of people.
The state's division will still be in charge of the state's preparedness campaign, "Be Ready Utah;" work with eight liaisons around the state to help resource coordination, training and planning; help distribute federal grants to local agencies; provide training for Citizen Emergency Response Teams; and staff the state's emergency operations center at a moment's notice.
Doughtery said if a city is overwhelmed by an emergency, city officials must call the county for help. If county officials are overwhelmed or do not have the resources, then they call the state.
"Those phone calls happen very fast," Doughtery said.
The department is gearing up for a statewide earthquake drill April 17, 2012, Doughtery said.
Residents, businesses, government agencies and schools are asked to participate. To sign up, go to shakeout.org/utah.