When natural or man-made disasters occur the local government has the responsibility to respond and recover from such incidents. In Illinois the chief elected official in each county has the ultimate responsibility for ensuring that the county’s response is adequate and that necessary resources from outside the county are requested and coordinated. In Adams County this has been delegated to the Adams County Emergency Management Agency by the Chairman of the Adams County Board. Our mission is “To strengthen Adams County’s ability to readily, effectively and efficiently prepare for, respond to, recover from, and mitigate against all types of natural and man-made emergencies and disasters through coordinating resources of the County, State, and Federal agencies.” We take a lead role in each of the four phases in emergency management Preparedness, Response, Recovery and Mitigation.
In preparedness we participate with other community groups in educating individuals and business on how they can become prepared for disasters or emergencies. Furthermore, we coordinate the development and maintenance of a county-wide Emergency Operation Plan. It is this plan that delegates responsibilities to agencies and organizations in times of disasters and establishes priorities for local governments to follow. The ACEMA develops and instructs a diverse training curriculum to prepare our local emergency responders for large events and then tests the plans, training, and knowledge base of responders with disaster exercises. We work with individuals and businesses to develop methods for mitigating disasters, or lessening the effects of a disaster. These could range from floodplain buyouts to building disaster resistant structures and infrastructure. Mother nature may not be able to be controlled, but we can control the environment in which we live, work and play.
Should a disaster occur the response phase moves to the forefront. The ACEMA is responsible to coordinate resources and information flow for the incident(s). This is accomplished through the staffing of an Emergency Operation Center. This center is the central coordination point for disasters. A full activation would require over 17 city and county agencies to sit at the same table to coordinate resources to ensure the most efficient use and to avoid duplication of effort. The transition from response to the recovery phase may seem transparent; however, recovery is the clean-up and rebuilding efforts to return to normalcy. As in the response phase the ACEMA remains the coordination entity and works with local organizations state agencies and FEMA to provide assistance to local governments, businesses and individuals. The ACEMA has created within its organization three volunteer divisions to assist with the response and recovery phases. The communication support function is amateur radio operators who assist with providing back-up or supplementary communications. Temporary facilities such as shelters, command posts, staging areas or reception centers may require communication support and these systems may need to be setup following the initial impact of the disaster. Amateur radio operators also assist with severe storm spotting allowing for real-time information from the field enabling prompt decisions for early warning of the public. The second division is the Volunteer Management Support Team. They will operate a volunteer reception center to coordinate the spontaneous volunteers that come from the community in times of disaster. Their goal is to match the volunteer’s skills with a need in the community with the process taking 5 -10 minutes. The last volunteer division is a Management Assistance Team. This division encompasses a variety of tasks and general support of the ACEMA’s mission. They provide manpower for search and rescue and incident command management assistance. The ACEMA is a multi-faceted agency with volunteer opportunities within the community.
We believe that engaging individuals within the community will help prepare us for catastrophic events. However, in order to effectively respond every individual must be prepared to some level. We hope that this guide helps you prepare you and your family for emergencies and disasters. Included in this guide is a listing of hazards that we face here in Adams County. It will also present agencies and organizations that work together to respond in disasters; but remember that even though there is a good response network assistance may not be able to reach you for many hours or even days. Therefore, we have included information on what to consider in becoming prepared in your home and at work. We appreciate your time in doing your part in preparedness. If you have any questions or concerns about disasters or anything contained in this guide please contact the Adams County Emergency Management Agency.