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September 30, 2011

IEMA to Highlight Importance of Volunteers in Disaster Response during October
Community Emergency Response Teams from 12 Communities to Participate in Prairie State Challenge Saturday in Glenview

SPRINGFIELD – Nearly 150 volunteer responders will put their emergency response skills to the test Saturday in Glenview during the second annual Prairie State Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Challenge, hosted by the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA).  The event kicks off IEMA’s month-long focus on the importance of volunteers in disasters.

“Volunteers have played a key role in countless disasters both here in Illinois and across the nation,” said IEMA Director Jonathon Monken.  “Community Emergency Response Teams are a valuable asset to their communities because they offer trained volunteers who can assist with critical tasks during disasters.  I applaud these volunteers and all the others who have devoted themselves to helping their communities prepare for and respond to emergencies.”

Participants in the CERT Challenge will demonstrate a variety of skills during the day-long event, including the abilities to locate, transport and provide basic medical treatment to injured people following a disaster.  In addition to team members, more than 100 additional people will participate as mock victims, evaluators and controllers.

The volunteer response teams are part of the Citizen Corps program in Illinois, which is administered by IEMA through the Illinois Terrorism Task Force.  Nearly 90 local jurisdictions in Illinois have active Citizen Corps Councils that oversee all homeland security-related volunteer programs in their communities.  Fifty-four local Citizen Corps Councils have implemented the CERT training program and maintain an active volunteer base.

Twelve-person teams from the following jurisdictions are scheduled to participate in the Prairie State CERT Challenge on Saturday at the Northeastern Illinois Public Safety Training Academy in Glenview:

Carol Stream
Elk Grove Village
Highland Park
LaSalle County/Hanover Park
Milton Township (DuPage County)
New Lenox
Will County

The teams will have up to 30 minutes to complete tasks at 10 different stations during the challenge.  Activities will test a variety of response skills, such as the ability to triage patients, free victims trapped in debris, locate evidence, gather information about disaster sites and suppress small fires with a fire extinguisher. 


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