SPRINGFIELD – Continuing his effort to keep the state’s first responders safe during an emergency involving nuclear, biological or chemical hazards, Governor Rod Blagojevich announced today that by mid February every law enforcement officer outside the City of Chicago will have received equipment that could save their lives during a response.
“Police officers and fire fighters would be the first on the scene of a terrorist attack,” said Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich. “Illinois is the first state actively seeking to ensure that all of these front-line defenders have the protection they need to do their jobs in life-threatening situations involving chemical, biological or radiological hazards.”
Distribution of the equipment began in August 2003, and to date more than 20,000 law enforcement officers have received basic Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), with another 1,000 units to be distributed by mid February. That will complete the first of three phases in the distribution program.
Emergency management and public health responders will begin receiving PPE later this month, with 11,000 units expected to be distributed by April. The final stage of the distribution, to around 20,000 fire services responders, is expected to start in April and be completed in June. At that time, more than 54,000 first responders will have PPE.
The effort to distribute PPE to every first responder in the state is being coordinated by the Illinois Terrorism Task Force (ITTF). Funding for the distribution program, which totals $20.8 million, comes from federal terrorism funds received by the state.
The City of Chicago receives separate federal terrorism funds and is planning a similar PPE distribution to its first responders. Once that distribution is complete, approximately 80,000 first responders throughout the state will have the equipment.
Law enforcement responders are receiving the Avon FM-12 mask, which includes a nuclear/biological/chemical filter, carrier and a monocle eyepiece. The military and the Illinois State Police use the same mask. Each PPE unit costs approximately $260.
Equipment for law enforcement officials was selected by the Illinois Law Enforcement Alarm System (ILEAS), the mutual aid organization formed by the Illinois Sheriffs Association and the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police. PPE for fire services personnel is being selected by the Mutual Aid Box Alarm System (MABAS).