Citizens Have Important Role in Community Emergency Preparedness
SPRINGFIELD – As part of its 2012 Preparedness Campaign, the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) today encouraged Illinoisans to take an active role in ensuring safety at home in their neighborhoods and community by having a disaster supply kit, staying alert to what’s going on around them, being prepared for emergencies and getting involved in local organizations that focus on community preparedness.
“People often don’t realize the power they possess to protect themselves and their families and help make their community a safer place to live,” said IEMA Director Jonathon Monken. “It can be as simple as building a disaster supply kit, being observant of activities taking place around you and in your community and reporting unusual actions or behavior to your local law enforcement agency.”
Monken said while people should always be vigilant, no one should ever try to take matters into their own hands by confronting suspicious individuals. Instead, people with information regarding suspicious activities should call 9-1-1 or their local emergency number to alert law enforcement officials.
Suspicious activities that may warrant reporting to law enforcement in your neighborhood or community include:
- Surveillance – trying to determine the strengths or weakness of a target by recording or monitoring activities, drawing diagrams, making notes on maps, watching activities with binoculars, etc.
- Inquiries – attempts to learn details about building operations, schedules and security at a site through phone calls, emails, personal conversations and other interactions.
- Tests of security – walking or driving into secure areas to determine security procedures.
- Acquiring supplies – purchasing weapons, explosives, hazardous chemicals and military-type equipment.
- Dry/trial runs – putting accomplices in position and running through the plan without actually implementing it.
- Deploying assets – putting people and supplies into position to commit a criminal activity.
Monken said personal preparedness for emergencies is always important. This includes having preparedness kits for your home, car and office stocked with such basics as water, non-perishable food, a flashlight, extra batteries, first aid kit and other items to address special needs of people in the home, such as children, senior citizens or people with disabilities.
Getting involved in community organizations that promote preparedness is another way to help make your community more resilient. One such organization is Citizen Corps, which has active councils in nearly 90 jurisdictions throughout Illinois. Citizen Corps Councils harness the power of individuals through education, training and volunteer service to make their communities safer, stronger and better prepared to respond to all types of disasters.
More than 50 Citizen Corps Councils in Illinois have implemented the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program, in which volunteers are trained to help prepare for and respond to emergencies. In a major disaster, CERTs could be called on to assist first responders in many ways, including helping to locate, transport and provide basic medical treatment to injured people.
For more information on how to be alert, prepared and involved, visit the Ready Illinois website at www.Ready.Illinois.gov.