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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 20, 2001

Governor Ryan and Lieutenant Governor Wood Thank Workers at Illinois Emergency Operations Center

SPRINGFIELD -- Governor George H. Ryan and Lieutenant Governor Corinne Wood today visited the Illinois Emergency Operations Center (EOC) to let the public know IEMA is coordinating with all of the federal, state and local public safety agencies as well as with 41 states across the country; and to thank the team of people who led the local response to last week's terrorist acts in New York and Washington, D.C.

The EOC is coordinated by the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) under Director Mike Chamness and includes participation from key federal, state and local public safety agencies monitoring everything from fire and police developments to reports of potential price-gouging by gas stations.

"I want to thank all the hard-working men and women who responded to the emergency last week and who worked around the clock to protect the public safety of the people of Illinois," Governor Ryan said.

Governor Ryan said IEMA's preparedness is the product of almost 3 years of planning and training. Also, Governor Ryan signed legislation this past July to make Illinois one of the 41 states joined in an agreement known as EMAC (Emergency Management Assistance Compact) which provides for state-to-state disasters.

Earlier this year in January, as a direct result of the Illinois Terrorism Task Force, the first-ever statewide fire and hazardous materials mutual aid agreement was signed between IEMA and the Mutual Aid Box Alarm System (MABAS). This agreement provides a regional fire department response capability across the state to support fire chiefs. Both systems were activated and ready to respond during the recent heightened alert.

The statewide mutual aid agreement includes 550 fire departments; 25,000 firefighters; 1,100 pumpers and engines; 270 ladder trucks; 147 heavy rescue squads and 725 ambulances complete with crews of Emergency Medical Technicians and paramedics.

"We now have more than 30 teams trained in hazardous materials and more than 30 special rescue teams available to help out in every corner of Illinois, " Governor Ryan said. "Their mission is to respond to incidents involving weapons of mass destruction. We hope to never use them. But we are ready."

Governor Ryan also thanked Lt. Governor Corinne Wood and the American Red Cross. The Red Cross provided nearly 40,000 meals for stranded passengers at O'Hare and Midway airports; shelter for almost 1,000 stranded passengers at Champaign, Bloomington and Peoria airports and crisis counseling for airport passengers and the Illinois families who suffered losses in the terrorist attacks.

"I want to thank Lieutenant Governor Wood for taking on the task of working with the Red Cross coordinating the effort by Illinois citizens to support the relief effort," Ryan said. "And I want to thank the thousands upon thousands of Illinois citizens who are reaching out to help our fellow Americans in need.

"This is the greatest country in the world and we are proving it with each day."


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