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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 15, 2010

IEMA Launches Video Game to Teach Children About Preparedness, Earthquake Safety
Game offers fun while providing valuable lessons

BENTON –   Seizing on the popularity of video games among children and teenagers, the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) today unveiled a video game that offers a fun way for young people to learn about emergency preparedness and earthquake safety.  A group of fifth graders at Benton Grade School in Benton had an opportunity to play the game during an event this afternoon to mark the statewide release of the innovative learning tool.  

“This video game is an exciting new way to reach young people with the preparedness message,” said Mike Chamness, IEMA senior policy adviser and chairman of the Illinois Terrorism Task Force (ITTF).  “While the game uses an earthquake scenario and should increase awareness of the earthquake risk in Illinois, it also drives home the importance of having a preparedness kit at your home and being prepared for all types of disasters.”

Through the game, players learn about items needed for a disaster preparedness kit, as well as safe and dangerous locations in a home when an earthquake occurs.  Once players successfully complete the game for the first time, they can replay it for scores that could land them on the leader board.  The video game can be downloaded from the Ready Illinois website at www.Ready.Illinois.gov.   

The video game, entitled, “The Day the Earth Shook,” was developed by the Electronic Visualization Lab at the University of Illinois at Chicago, the National Center for Supercomputing Applications and the Center for Public Safety and Justice, which is within the Institute of Government and Public Affairs at the University of Illinois.

The project, which had a total cost of $286,000, was funded through federal homeland security grants from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

“This project would not have been possible without the collaboration between the Illinois Terrorism Task Force and the Institute of Government and Public Affairs at the University of Illinois,” said Dr. Pat Rushing, director of the Center for Public Safety and Justice.  “We hope that this online game provides youth in Illinois and across the country with a unique opportunity to learn effective disaster response strategies.”

"As we face the earthquake threat in Illinois, it is important for our children to learn what to do during an earthquake,” said Ryan Buckingham, director of the Franklin County Emergency Management Agency.  “IEMA's new earthquake game will teach children what to do before, during and after an earthquake occurs."

The video game is the latest in a series of IEMA initiatives aimed at helping children and young adults learn about preparedness.  Other initiatives include an activity book for younger children, the “Ready Illinois High School Challenge” public service announcement contest for high school students, and the recently-launched “Ready Illinois College Challenge” TV spot contest for college students.

“Benton Grade School 5-8 is excited to be selected by the state to launch this earthquake awareness game,” said Principal Tammy McCollum.  “This educational game provides a very useful way to help students gain knowledge, develop life-skills and reinforce positive safe habits in all ages. This is a very innovative way to get out the preparedness awareness message to young students.”

Southern Illinois lies within two seismic zones: the New Madrid, which stretches from Mississippi to Illinois along the Central Mississippi River Valley; and the Wabash Valley, located between southeastern Illinois and southwestern Indiana.  During the winter of 1811-1812, a series of strong earthquakes, estimated to be in the 7.8 - 8.1 magnitude range, occurred along the New Madrid Seismic Zone. 

Several smaller earthquakes have been felt throughout Illinois over the years, including a 5.4 magnitude earthquake in April 2008 centered in southeastern Illinois.  The quake caused minor damage but was felt by people as far away as northern Illinois.

Additional preparedness information is available on the Ready Illinois website at www.Ready.Illinois.gov



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