A Better Prepared State of Illinois: Major Accomplishments
- State response to disasters
IEMA coordinated state response and assistance to multiple emergencies in 2008, resulting in 75 counties being declared state disaster areas and four presidential disaster declarations. These disasters included major flooding, ice and snow storms, an earthquake and the shootings at Northern Illinois University. The State Emergency Operations Center also coordinated Illinois' response to Hurricane Gustav.
- Campus Security Task Force
This multi-disciplinary task force delivered a comprehensive report to the Governor in April, detailing best practices, lessons learned and resources available to campuses to enhance preparedness, response and recovery. The report also included several recommendations for increasing campus security, including the proposed Campus Security Enhancement Act (PA 095-0881), which was passed by the General Assembly during the spring session and signed into law by the Governor.
- Approval of the Illinois Statewide Communications Interoperability Plan
Illinois' comprehensive plan for ensuring that first responders throughout the state can communicate with each other during emergencies was approved by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The plan sets out a statewide communications strategy that focuses on establishing a single platform so all public agencies can share emergency information during a local, regional or statewide disaster.
- Ready Illinois website
IEMA utilized the Ready Illinois website (www.Ready.Illinois.gov) to keep residents informed in real-time of key events and critical issues during severe flooding throughout the state, the Northern Illinois University shootings and an earthquake in southern Illinois. In addition, the Ready Illinois website is now available in Spanish, enabling even more Illinois residents to readily access disaster preparedness information.
- Upgrade of the Gamma Detection Network
In 2008, IEMA completed the first stage in an upgrade to the Gamma Detection Network (GDN) around nuclear power plants in Illinois. The GDN continuously monitors the environment around each nuclear plant and feeds this information to the Radiological Emergency Assessment Center in Springfield. Information from the system would be used during an emergency to develop protective action recommendations for the general public and emergency workers before and during a radiological release.
- Cyberstorm II exercise
Illinois participated in the largest cyber security exercise ever organized, including 18 federal departments and agencies, nine states, five countries and more than 40 private sector companies. Conducted by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Cyberstorm II simulated a coordinated cyber attack on information technology, communications, chemical industry and transportation systems and assets.
- National recognition for 2007 Illinois Cyber Security Exercise
Illinois' October 2007 Cyber Security Exercise is being recognized by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for "Best Practice." In October 2008, IEMA staff members were invited speakers at the State and Community Cyber Education and Training Conference, where staff spoke on the planning, execution and lessons learned for the state's Cyber Security Exercise. Illinois was commended by the 30 states that were represented and by the Regional FEMA representatives for innovative planning and strategies for ensuring cyber security within Illinois government.
- Long-Term Recovery Council
In August, following major flooding in western, northern and southwestern Illinois, the Governor created the Long-Term Recovery Council, which will develop and assist in implementing a comprehensive strategy to help flood-impacted Illinois communities recover and thrive.
- Preventive Radiological and Nuclear Detection Program
Significant progress was made in the development of this program during 2008, and it is expected to be launched on a pilot-program basis in 2009. Under this program, personal radiation detectors will be distributed to local law enforcement officers to aid in the interdiction of radiation sources, including devices potentially intended for criminal or terrorist activities.
- Statewide earthquake exercise
This full-scale exercise successfully brought together more than 200 responders from local and state agencies to test capabilities for response to a major earthquake affecting the southern third of the state.
- Increasing public awareness of radon health hazards
The IEMA Radon Program continued its mission to increase public awareness of radon and its associated health risks (radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer). During 2008, nearly 50,000 free radon test kits were distributed to Illinois residents. The program licensed 376 radon measurement and mitigation contractors in 2008, a 25 percent increase over 2007.
- IEMA State Conference
IEMA conducted the 13th annual IEMA State Conference in September for nearly 1,000 attendees, including emergency response, law enforcement, fire services, public health and volunteer agency personnel from throughout the state. The three-day conference offered national and international speakers, as well as workshops and breakout sessions on timely and relevant emergency management issues.
- Implemented more stringent requirements for certain radioactive materials
Several new regulations regarding radioactive materials have been implemented since Sept. 11, 2001, to deter their use for criminal or terrorist activities. In April 2008, IEMA implemented a federal mandate requiring fingerprinting and Federal Bureau of Investigation identification and criminal history records checks for all unescorted users of radioactive materials.
- Maintained state's EMAP accreditation
IEMA staff ensured that Illinois maintained its Emergency Management Accreditation Program (EMAP) accreditation against 63 national standards. Illinois is one of approximately 20 states in the nation that have met the rigorous standards for EMAP accreditation. In addition, Director Velasquez accepted a position as an EMAP Commissioner.
- Emergency Preparedness Tips for Those with Functional Needs
A new publication developed by a team of emergency management and health professionals addresses the unique preparedness considerations of individuals with functional needs and their caregivers. This brochure offers preparedness tips for people with visual, cognitive, or mobility impairments; citizens who are deaf or hard of hearing; those who utilize service animals or life support systems; and seniors.
2008 IEMA Year in Review