Champaign County awarded grant for emergency response

By Erik Allgood

State legislators have allotted $54,000 to help Champaign County improve communication capacity during disasters.

The funding will help the county respond during emergencies, said Patti Thompson, media contact for the Illinois Emergency Management Agency.

“That was one of the major problems during 9/11,” Thompson said, “The different government agencies were unable to communicate with each other.”

The money will go towards ensuring that all agencies are working with compatible technology so that everybody is informed at the same time.

Thompson said that the grant would also be used to develop the interoperable communication plan.

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“The development will consist of either a full-scale or a tabletop exercise,” Thompson said, “A tabletop exercise consists of personnel being given different scenarios and asked how they would respond. A full-scale exercise involves actual testing of the system.”

The Department of Homeland Security originally supplied the $1.4 million that is being distributed statewide. This grant trickled down to 12 counties through the state, including the $54,000 given to Champaign County, Thompson said.

Although the money is coming from the Department of Homeland Security, the communication system that is developed will be used to respond to all types of disasters.

“The system can be used just as effectively whether the disaster is terrorism or a tornado,” Thompson said.