SPRINGFIELD – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today announced that Illinois’ emergency management program became just the sixth state and eighth governmental body in the nation to receive full accreditation through the Emergency Management Accreditation Program (EMAP). Through accreditation, the EMAP Commission recognizes the capabilities of a state or local government to coordinate personnel, resources, and communications from a variety of agencies and disciplines in preparation for and in response to a major emergency or disaster. The EMAP Commission approved Illinois’ certification after an in-depth assessment of the state’s emergency response program against national standards.
“There is nothing more important than making sure the people of our state are safe,” said Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich. “During the last three years, we’ve developed a comprehensive emergency and disaster response program in Illinois, and we’re proud to receive this recognition.”
EMAP is an independent non-profit organization created by more than a dozen national organizations and federal agencies as a means of fostering continuous improvement of emergency management program capabilities. EMAP offers a voluntary accreditation process for state, territorial and local government programs that coordinate preparedness and response activities for disasters, from natural or technological disasters to terrorist acts. EMAP’s process encourages state and local governments to work toward consistent standards and strive for continuous improvement in their emergency management programs.
Illinois’ program was reviewed by EMAP assessors in October 2004 and was awarded conditional accreditation in May 2005 for meeting 40 of the 54 standards. Revisions to the program were made and an additional review was conducted in December 2005, which showed that the state’s emergency management program was fully compliant with the remaining 14 standards. During the assessments it was noted by the EMAP assessors that Illinois has a response program that is compliant with the National Incident Management System, which is mandated by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Assessors also noted that Illinois’ program provides for an extensive and comprehensive ability to respond to impacted communities and protects the lives of both citizens and responders in emergency situations.
“We knew we had a very comprehensive emergency management program in place, but going through the EMAP review process ensured that our program meets these stringent national standards,” said William C. Burke, director of the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA). “After going through this accreditation process, I know our emergency management program is even stronger and better able to protect the people of Illinois from natural and man-made disasters.”
The EMAP Standard is a set of comprehensive standards that address preparedness and response for a terrorist event or catastrophic disaster, including multi-disciplinary coordination, resource management, direction and control, continuity of operations and continuity of government planning, alternate operating facilities, and interoperability.
EMAP is the only accreditation process for state and local emergency management. Accredited programs must maintain compliance with EMAP standards and keep documentation of compliance up-to-date. An annual report summarizing the maintenance experience and improvement initiatives for the preceding year is due on the anniversary of accreditation. Every five years, the jurisdiction must be reassessed by the EMAP program.
Other EMAP accredited programs include the states of Arizona, Florida, North Dakota, Pennsylvania and Virginia, as well as the consolidated city/county of Jacksonville/Duval (Florida) and the District of Columbia.
Three IEMA employees are certified EMAP assessors, while three others are assessor candidates. EMAP assessors are trained in EMAP standards, on-site assessment procedures, assessor roles and responsibilities and other necessary skills. Assessors must have state or local government emergency management experience, have experience with emergency operations in both actual and training situations and be able to serve as a neutral observer. IEMA assessors have been involved in assessments of seven other emergency management programs.
In addition, one IEMA assessor was recently invited to be a member of the EMAP Standards Committee.