SPRINGFIELD – In a continuing effort to enhance student safety at colleges and universities in Illinois, Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today announced that more than 40 college representatives and emergency response officials from throughout Illinois will be in Palatine this week to learn how to develop Campus Community Emergency Response Teams (Campus CERTs) at their schools. The Campus CERT program was one of several initiatives outlined by the governor’s Campus Security Task Force in its comprehensive report released in April.
“Training college and university personnel in basic emergency response techniques, such as fire safety, light search and rescue and first aid, will help us further enhance student safety at campuses throughout Illinois,” said Governor Blagojevich. “Earlier this year, the Campus Security Task Force highlighted the Campus Community Emergency Response Team program in its report on campus security. I’m very pleased that we are able to offer this critical training as colleges and universities prepare for the new school year.”
The intensive three-day training will be held August 5-7 at Harper College in Palatine. The training session is offered at no cost to participants by the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA), the Illinois Terrorism Task Force (ITTF) and the Illinois Citizen Corps Council. Trainers from Michigan State University’s School of Criminal Justice are conducting these “Train-the-Trainer” courses in Illinois and other states around the country under an agreement with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
The Campus CERT program targets campus police, public safety, security, emergency management, emergency medical services (EMS) and other appropriate personnel who may be tasked with security, training and leading CERT teams at their college or university. During the three-day train-the-trainer course, attendees will study disaster preparedness, fire safety, disaster medical operations, light search and rescue operations, CERT organization, disaster psychology, terrorism and CERT, and disaster simulation. Participants will use the training to start Campus CERTs on their own campuses.
The original CERT program was developed by the Los Angeles Fire Department in the early 1990s in response to earthquake disasters, and was later adapted as an “all-hazards” course by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). It is now delivered on a quarterly basis through IEMA and the Citizen Corps program. There currently are 108 local Citizen Corps programs in Illinois that support a variety of community preparedness initiatives, such as CERT.
“The CERT Program is a valuable component of our state’s overall preparedness for disasters, and we’re very excited to see it expand to our college and university campuses,” said IEMA Director Andrew Velasquez III. “With the skills CERT members receive through training and exercises, they can offer life-saving assistance during an emergency when professional responders are not immediately available.”
Governor Blagojevich created the Campus Security Task Force following the tragic shootings at Virginia Tech in April 2007 to closely examine campus security issues and develop comprehensive policies and training programs to deter, prevent and enhance the response to and recovery from major public safety incidents at higher education institutions in Illinois. The task force also examined initial lessons learned from the response and recovery to the shootings at the Northern Illinois University campus in February 2008. The Governor accepted the group’s 259-page report detailing recommendations for increasing security at the state’s more than 180 public and private campuses on April 15, 2008.
Anyone seeking more information about the CERT or Campus CERT programs should contact Michelle Hanneken with the ITTF at 217-558-1334 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Participating colleges, universities and organizations
Aledo/Mercer County Area Citizen Corps
Aurora Emergency Management Agency
Charleston Fire Department
Chicago Office of Emergency Management and Communication
College of DuPage Police Department
Eastern Illinois University
Harper College Police Department
Illinois Campus Security Task Force
Macoupin County Public Health Department
Northeastern Illinois University P.D.
Robert Morris College
Rock Valley College
Southern Illinois University Police
State Fire Marshal’s Office
University of Chicago
University of Illinois at Springfield
Western Illinois University