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May 30, 2012

IEMA Announces Community Preparedness Initiative
Ready to Respond Community Program Encourages Municipal, County Officials to Enhance Emergency Preparedness

SPRINGFIELD – Municipalities and counties throughout Illinois will be able to seek state recognition for efforts to enhance emergency preparedness in their communities under an initiative announced today by the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA).  The Ready to Respond Community Program will challenge local officials to take steps to ensure government representatives, businesses and citizens are better prepared for all types of disasters.

“The Ready to Respond Community initiative will take community preparedness to a new level by emphasizing the ‘whole community’ approach to emergency preparedness,” said IEMA Director Jonathon Monken.  “The program encourages local governments to bring together volunteer and not-for-profit organizations, private industry and citizens to enhance overall preparedness in their community.”

Through the Ready to Respond Community program, municipal and county governments will be recognized when their local officials complete a series of planning, training, exercise and public outreach benchmarks that address core emergency management competencies.  These benchmarks will be evaluated by IEMA against criteria for Ready to Respond Community designation.

Every county in Illinois as well as the city of Chicago already are required to have an accredited emergency management agency.  In addition, 21 municipalities have elected to establish accredited emergency management agencies.  The Ready to Respond Community initiative takes this preparedness further by requiring elected officials to complete several National Incident Management System (NIMS) courses to ensure they understand the national framework for responding to emergencies. 

Communities seeking Ready to Respond Community status also must have in place emergency plans and procedures; participate in a full-scale exercise of their emergency response plan; develop a public outreach campaign focused on community and individual preparedness; and show progress toward developing a volunteer base for emergency response.

“Our citizens expect us, as elected officials, to take the lead when disaster strikes. By participating in the Ready to Respond program we will be able to assure our citizens we are prepared to lead if and when disasters occur in our communities,” said Macomb Mayor Michael J. Inman.

“The Illinois Municipal League supports the continuing efforts of IEMA, including the Ready to Respond initiative,” said Larry Frang, Executive Director of the Illinois Municipal League.  “Programs like these help to prepare communities for natural disasters and other types of emergency events.  By virtue of these valuable efforts, municipalities and their staffs are better prepared to deal with emergencies, so as to safeguard the lives of their citizens, and public and private property as well.”

Communities that receive the designation will have the opportunity to display a unique Ready to Respond Community logo on websites, letterhead, documents, signs and other mediums that will signify they have invested the time and resources to ensure their municipality or county is ready for an emergency.

The Ready to Respond Community program was developed by IEMA and the Illinois Terrorism Task Force’s Elected Officials Committee.

Information about the Ready to Respond Community program, including criteria and guidance for fulfilling program requirements, is available on the Ready Illinois website at (www.Ready.Illinois.gov).


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