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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 21, 2007

Gov. Blagojevich announces Illinois preparedness team receives national honors
State’s Strategic National Stockpile team to demonstrate coordinated statewide effort lauded as national model

SPRINGFIELD – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich announced today the Illinois Strategic National Stockpile team will speak tomorrow at the Local, State and Federal Public Health Preparedness Summit in Washington, D.C. Illinois’ SNS team, selected from more than 300 submissions from public health officials nationwide, will provide insight on the state’s coordinated preparedness efforts in a presentation entitled, The Amazing SNS Race: Collaboration Between State Agencies to Get to the Finish. Illinois was selected to highlight its efforts because the state has achieved the highest ranking the past three years for its plan to use local health departments to dispense medications and supplies.

“We’ve made great strides to make sure our state is prepared for an emergency. Now, other states will have the opportunity to learn from our model to keep people safe,” said Gov. Blagojevich.

The Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) consists of large quantities of medications and medical supplies to protect people if there is a public health emergency (terrorist attack, flu outbreak, earthquake, etc.) severe enough to cause local and state supplies to run out. Once federal, state and local authorities agree the stockpile is needed, medications and medical supplies will be delivered to any state in the U.S. within 12 hours. Each state has plans to receive and distribute medications and medical supplies to local communities as quickly as possible. The Illinois SNS team presentation will illustrate the necessity of cooperation between state agencies in the planning and implementation of the SNS, as has been rehearsed in prior emergency response exercises, including the 2006 FLUEX exercise.

During The Amazing SNS Race: Collaboration Between State Agencies to Get to the Finish presentation, representatives from six Illinois agencies (Illinois Emergency Management Agency, Illinois State Police, Illinois National Guard, Illinois Department of Transportation, Illinois Department of Corrections, Illinois Department of Public Health) will each outline their part in the plan and explain how their role in the State Emergency Operations Center has helped develop the Illinois team. Illinois’ model of using local health departments to dispense medications and provide vaccinations has become a trademark and a highly valued component of the Illinois’ nationally respected program.

The Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) manages the coordination of assets for the stockpile’s distribution and delivery. IEMA works with the Illinois State Police to handle security, the Illinois National Guard for warehouse manpower, the Illinois Department of Transportation for both ground and air transportation services, the Illinois Department of Corrections to assist with facility availability and the Illinois Department of Public Health to handle product allocation quality control procedures.

“An effective SNS program takes a tremendous amount of coordination between state agencies, but also between the state and local level,” said Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Eric E. Whitaker. “On the local level, we have trained with and depend heavily on coordination with local health departments and hospitals for the dispensing of SNS supplies. This coordination at the state and local levels is what makes the Illinois SNS Program so successful.”

The 2007 Local, State and Federal Public Health Preparedness Summit, which runs from February 19th - 23rd, is designed to provide cutting-edge presentations, continuing education opportunities and offer information sharing from the field. Presentations, like the one the Illinois team will deliver, are critical to the Summit’s relevance for participants and are the core of the educational program.

Gov. Blagojevich has led the charge for state preparedness through various actions and exercises including:

• Health Department Exercises: The Illinois Department of Public Health, working in cooperation with local health departments, conducted full-scale SNS distribution and dispensing exercises in every Illinois health jurisdiction by April 1, 2006. The dispensing exercises assured that all residents of the county, and therefore the state, will receive the needed medications.

• Green Rating: In 2003 Illinois became only the second state to obtain the Green, or highest rating, for its SNS Program. Illinois has not only maintained its Green rating for the past three years, but has also remained one of only seven states to have the highest rating for its SNS Program.

• Tabletop Exercises: The Illinois Department of Public Health conducted three tabletop exercises on pandemic influenza in 2006 designed to document specific action steps and resources needed to improve preparedness efforts in the state. Several state agencies including the Illinois Department of Agriculture, the Illinois Emergency Management Agency and the Illinois State Board of Education participated in the tabletop exercises along with local health departments, hospitals and other health care organizations.

• FLUEX 2006: An ambitious three-day exercise held in May 2006 tested the state’s preparedness for handling a major health crisis and simultaneous terrorist attacks to help improve emergency planning and preparedness in Illinois. More than 50 representatives from state and federal agencies and the American Red Cross reported to the State Incident Response Center (SIRC) within the State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC) in Springfield to participate in the exercise.

• Prairie Thunder Exercise: The state conducted a major five-day emergency response exercise in the Metro East area to test the state’s ability to respond to large-scale emergencies which included a mass evacuation and sheltering component. The exercise brought federal, state and local response organizations together in a coordinated response to multiple emergency scenarios that included intelligence gathering and response to simulated terrorist attacks, distribution of materials from the Strategic National Stockpile, victim search and rescue efforts and establishment of a field hospital for treating “victims.”


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