SPRINGFIELD – A fleet of more than 30 emergency response vehicles and other response equipment staged outside the State Capitol in Springfield on Tuesday didn’t signify a major disaster at the heart of Illinois state government. Rather, the equipment display showcased major equipment purchased by Illinois with a portion of the state’s share of federal homeland security dollars received over the past decade.
Command trailers, special teams response trucks, equipment trailers, even two tactical boats lined nearly two blocks of Monroe Street in the display organized by the Illinois Terrorism Task Force (ITTF) and the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) to highlight the state’s emergency response and preparedness efforts.
“Illinois’ homeland security efforts are recognized as among the best in the nation, and this equipment display demonstrates the state’s strong commitment to enhancing emergency response capabilities,” said IEMA Director Andrew Velasquez III, who also serves as the state’s homeland security adviser. “But it’s important to note that while this equipment was purchased with homeland security funds, most of it is used on a regular basis by local responders for response to other emergencies, such as tornadoes, floods and hazardous materials incidents.”
The ITTF was created nearly 10 years ago to develop and implement the state’s homeland security strategy. Today, the task force’s membership includes more than 60 agencies, organizations and municipalities that represent emergency management, law enforcement, fire services, public health and other response disciplines. The ITTF’s 15 committees focus on various components of the state’s homeland security plan, such as crisis response and prevention, technology, training and communications.
The task force is also responsible for determining how the state’s share of federal homeland security funds should be used to enhance emergency preparedness and response throughout Illinois. Since 1999, the state has received more than $374 million in federal homeland security grants.
“Since the very beginning, Illinois’ approach to homeland security was focused on developing a coordinated, cohesive level of preparedness across the state,” said Mike Chamness, chairman of the Illinois Terrorism Task Force (ITTF). “The equipment on display today represents nearly 450 similar items that have been staged throughout Illinois. This equipment can be deployed locally, regionally, literally anywhere in the state in response to any type of disaster.”
Chamness said the ITTF has spent $68.8 million acquiring and outfitting the 443 vehicles and pieces of emergency response equipment represented in the display.
Several visitors from the Polish military were among those visiting the equipment display on Tuesday. The group is part of the State Partnership Program (SPP), which links the National Guard states and territories with partner countries to foster mutual interests and establish long-term relationships with military and civilian responders. Illinois’ SPP started in 1993 with Poland, and has allowed hundreds of Illinois National Guard members to participate in exchanges with Polish forces. Among the many military interactions between the Illinois National Guard and Poland were exchanges to prepare Polish forces for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
In addition to the ITTF and IEMA, other agencies and organizations with equipment in the display include:
• Illinois Department of Transportation
• Illinois State Police
• Secretary of State Police
• Illinois Department of Public Health
• Adams County
• DuPage County
• Illinois Fire Services Institute
• Illinois Law Enforcement Alarm System (ILEAS)
• Mutual Aid Box Alarm System (MABAS)
Emergency vehicles and equipment on display in Springfield Tuesday include (number in parentheses indicates total number located throughout Illinois):
• Unified Area Command Trailer (1)
• NIMS/Command Trailer (1)
• Mobile Command Trailer (1)
• Mobile Field Force Truck (8)
• Volunteer Management Support Team Equipment Trailer (2)
• Mass Care Trailer (6)
• IL Medical Emergency Response Team (IMERT) Trailer (4)
• Vehicle and Cargo Inspection System (VACIS) (2)
• Special Response Team Armored Vehicle (9)
• Special Response Team Air Response Vehicle (9)
• Special Response Team Chemical, Biological, Radiological or Nuclear (CBRN) Response Vehicle (9)
• Special Response Team Equipment Trailer (9)
• Armored Vehicle (3)
• Tactical Response Vehicle (3)
• 30-foot Hurricane Tactical Watercraft (1)
• 16-foot Zodiac Tactical Watercraft (3)
• Negotiator Robot (3)
• Illinois Transportable Emergency Communications System (ITECS) (10)
• Unified Command Post (13)
• Decontamination Vehicle (22)
• Compressor Vehicle (11)
• Mobile Ventilation Unit (5)
• Semi-Truck Mobile Warehouse (7)
• Fleet Maintenance and Refuel Vehicle (1)
• Incident Management Team Trailer (75)
• Generator Light Tower (77)
• USAR Trucks and Trailers (1)
• ATV and Trailer (65)
• Level A HAZMAT Team Vehicle (42)
• Technical Rescue Team Vehicle (39)
• Hazardous Device Unit Response Truck (1)
More information about the state’s homeland security initiatives is available at www.Ready.Illinois.gov/ittf.