Chicago and Cook County Receive $47 Million to Protect the Public and Critical Infrastructures

The Chicago Office of Emergency Management and Communications (OEMC), the Department of Homeland Security Emergency Management (DHSEM) and the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) received $47 million in Homeland Security Grant Funding to continue the development, training and allocation of resources for securing the public and critical infrastructure in the event of an emergency or disaster. The Chicago Urban Area was the fourth highest recipient of Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) grant funding which is critical to the sustainment of public safety and to homeland security initiatives. The FY 2012 UASI grant program will allow for continued opportunities for the City of Chicago, Cook County and the State to sustain national preparedness capabilities that previous years of funding have built. These funds will increase our ability to continue to use cutting-edge technology, especially in the crucial area of interoperability; to train, equip and prepare our first responders for disaster response; and efforts to increase public education around preparedness. As a result of the funding the City of Chicago’s OEMC and Cook County’s DHSEM will continue to maintain a robust Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program (HSEEP). Specifically, the grant funds allow for the continued implementation of National Incident Management System (NIMS) training courses and HSSEP-compliant, multi-agency, multi-jurisdictional exercises that test, practice, improve, and align with the National Preparedness Guidelines and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) core capabilities. These core capabilities allow for our city, county and regional departments to “protect, prevent, respond, and recover” from emergencies and disasters. The collaboration with our county and state public safety partners is important to the maintenance and sustainability of homeland security initiatives in order to more effectively protect our residents,” said Gary W. Schenkel, OEMC Executive Director. “These funds provide emergency management personnel the opportunity to maintain our ability to prepare for coordinated disaster response, utilize technology and provide effective outreach to the public in the event of a catastrophic incident,” Schenkel added. The City of Chicago and County officials continue to find ways to collaborate and share ideas that expand the efficient use of UASI funding. The Public Safety Camera Network is an example of how combining projects and resources that accomplish common goals are fiscally responsible and streamline processes. Cameras along with the wireless network that supports their capabilities are used throughout the City of Chicago and the County to assist in security measures. As with most technology the cameras come to the end of their life expectancy and need to be replaced. Maintaining the Chicago and Cook County Urban Area camera network is essential to the sustainment of public safety before, during and after an emergency or disaster. “This is the second year in which the City of Chicago and Cook County has partnered with the State of Illinois, and collaborated on developing shared missions and objectives for these funds, identifying shared equipment and training needs and increasing outreach, all that will benefit our first responders and our residents, by enhancing our preparedness,” said Michael Masters, DHSEM Executive Director. Efficient and effective communication tools for First Responders are a priority year-round for the City and County. The City of Chicago and Cook County’s radio cache are deployed on a regular basis for planned and unplanned events. Maintaining a reliable radio cache provides the accessibility of additional units for special events, emergencies and disasters when additional emergency responders are deployed. The securing of UASI funding allows for the continued rebuilding of the public safety cache. The OEMC and DHSEM will continue to consider all preparedness necessities when planning for the response to and recovery from an emergency or disaster event as this important collaboration will continue to create greater efficiency to improve emergency preparedness for the Chicago Urban Area.