SPRINGFIELD – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today named Colonel Jill Morgenthaler, manager of the Emergency Response Center at Argonne National Laboratory, to the position of Deputy Chief of Staff for Public Safety. Col. Morgenthaler replaces Carl Hawkinson, who is retiring from state government after almost 30 years of public service. The Governor thanked Hawkinson for his three years of service to the administration.
“For more than three years, Carl served as my chief advisor on issues of public safety and homeland security. I appreciate his hard work, dedication and commitment. Carl served the people of this state very well, not only as my Deputy Chief of Staff for Public Safety, but as a state senator, state representative and state’s attorney,” said Governor Blagojevich.
As the Governor’s Deputy Chief of Staff for Public Safety and Homeland Security Advisor, Col. Jill Morgenthaler will be responsible for directing Illinois homeland security operations for the state. Col. Morgenthaler will be responsible for executing a state strategy to marshal and mobilize efforts at all levels of government in support of Illinois homeland security. She is charged with coordinating efforts with federal agencies and providing guidance to Illinois Emergency Management Agency, Illinois Terrorism Task Force, Illinois National Guard, and other agencies to ensure that all levels of government work efficiently and effectively together for the prevention, preparedness, response, and recovery from natural disasters or terrorist incidents.
Col. Morgenthaler brings extensive experience to state government, both as an Army Reserve colonel and as one of Argonne National Laboratory’s Emergency Response Center managers. As an Army officer with close to 30 years of experience, she has worked extensively in command centers in Korea, Berlin, Bosnia, and Iraq; handled disaster recovery during the San Francisco earthquake of 1989 and evacuation operations for Kosovar refugees in New Jersey. As Argonne’s Emergency Response Center manager, she supervised the center during incidents and exercises. She led the center during the national exercise, TOPOFF 2, receiving accolades from the Department of Energy. Col. Morgenthaler has participated in training conducted by the Department of Energy’s Emergency Operations Training Academy, Department of Defense Anti-terrorism programs, Department of Homeland Security, and the State of Illinois.
Col. Morgenthaler holds a Masters of Strategic Studies from the Army War College, a Masters of Arts in International Policy Studies from the Monterey Institute of International Studies, and a Bachelor of Arts from Pennsylvania State University.
“Based on her impressive credentials and work experience, Jill is extremely qualified to serve as Deputy Chief of Staff for Public Safety. She will pick up where Carl left off, continuing to position Illinois as a national leader in the area of homeland security,” said the Governor.
“Illinois already has an extremely impressive homeland security operation and I hope to build on that solid record. I would like to thank the Governor for this opportunity and pledge to continue preparing Illinois for future challenges,” said Col. Morgenthaler.
Hawkinson has had a long and distinguished career in public service. A native of Galesburg, he served as Knox County State’s Attorney from 1976 to 1982, followed by four years in the Illinois House of Representatives and sixteen years in the Illinois Senate. After retiring from public life, Hawkinson will begin working with the Naval Post Graduate School, specifically working on mobile education training projects.
“It’s been my privilege to help lead Illinois homeland security preparations, which, in many respects, is a model for the country. I would like to thank the Governor for giving me this opportunity,” said Hawkinson.
During the last three years, the Blagojevich administration has taken a number of steps to improve security and preparedness around the state including:
- Safer utilities: In August, legislation was enacted that increased security for all municipal utilities in Illinois. The new law outlines specific safeguards that will be adopted by municipal utility facilities, including electric public utilities, restricting access to critical infrastructure.
- Safer airports: It is now a Class 4 felony, punishable by 1 to 3 years in prison, to impersonate a pilot, airline employee, airport employee or contractor in restricted areas of an airport. A second bill made trespassing in an airport’s restricted area a Class 4 felony, and trespassing while in possession of a weapon, replica of a weapon, or ammunition a Class 3 felony.
- Prepared for bioterrorism: Last year, Illinois retained the nation's highest rating ("Green") from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to manage the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) during an act of bio-terrorism or other mass casualty event. Illinois is one of only six states to achieve this preparedness rating.
- Effective response to public health emergencies: In March 2004, the Illinois-National Electronic Disease Surveillance System (I-NEDSS) was implemented. I-NEDSS is a secure, Web-based system for hospitals, doctors and other health care providers to electronically report infectious diseases. The system allows medical professionals and public health officials to effectively respond to public health emergencies immediately. I-NEDSS is part of a nation-wide system linking state and local public health departments with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- Up-to-the-minute information on hospital availability: In March 2004, a Web-based version of the hospital bypass system was launched that provides the state with up-to-the-minute information from more than 200 hospitals in Illinois on the availability of beds and other critical health care services necessary to guide the response to an act of terrorism or other public health emergencies.
- Emergency Medical Response Team: The Illinois Emergency Medical Response Team (IMERT) has expanded to 12 teams and 900 participants. IMERT responds and assists with emergency medical treatment of mass casualty incidents when activated by the Director of Public Health. Each team consists of a physician, nurse, paramedic and an EMT that volunteer their time. The state continues to recruit more volunteers to participate in this effort. Some members of IMERT assisted victims in Baton Rouge following in the Hurricane Katrina catastrophe.
- Readiness exercises: The Cities Readiness Initiative (CRI) is a partnership with Chicago, St. Louis and neighboring states, which focuses on conducting readiness exercises between large metropolitan areas and states and how the different entities can work together on preparedness.
- Better prepared public health system: The state created the Illinois Public Health Mutual Aid System (IPHMAS) last year to strengthen the preparedness of the public health system in Illinois. All the local health departments throughout the state were called upon to sign on to the project, which provides for the sharing of resources in the event of a bio-terrorist attack or other emergency. All 95 local health departments in the state heeded the call to action and signed on to participate in the system. The pact provides personnel, equipment, and supplies assistance to a stricken area by local health departments.
- Better prepared to deal with chemical attacks: The Chem-Pack project is an initiative geared toward raising preparedness efforts related to responding to chemical or nerve agent terrorist attacks. Illinois distributed the chem-packs last fall to hospitals around the state to protect against a nerve agent attack. The packs contain medicine to treat nerve agent exposure.
- Specialists available to deal with biological attacks: The State Weapons of Mass Destruction (SWMD) Team is a multi-agency effort including the Illinois State Police, Secretary of State Police, Illinois Department of Public Health, Illinois Environmental Protection Agency and Illinois Emergency Management Agency. The team is trained to respond to a biological, chemical or radiological agent attack. Specially trained individuals determine what type of agent has been used and how to respond.
- Mitretek Innovations Award in Homeland Security: In October 2004, the Governor was presented with the first national award to recognize the most effective homeland security programs. The award is sponsored by the Ash Institute for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and Mitretek Systems. Illinois was acknowledged for the State Weapons of Mass Destruction Team and their effective emergency response capabilities statewide.