"We know terrorists are thinking of new and more destructive ways to
hurt us -- and utilities and transportation systems could be prime
targets," Blagojevich said. "That's why it makes sense for all of
our public utilities to have strong, effective security systems in
place and to test them at least once a year. And as one of the
country's major commercial and transportation hubs, we also need to
do whatever it takes to protect our rail systems."
House Bill 4419
was sponsored by Sen. William Haine, D-Alton, and Rep. John D'Amico,
D-Chicago. It requires all public utilities, instead of just
electric utilities, to establish a security policy that includes
on-site safeguards to restrict physical or electronic access to
critical infrastructure and computerized systems. It also requires
utilities to conduct at least one security exercise each year to
test their plans.
"This bill will help our citizens feel more secure when it comes
to the utility infrastructure in our state," Haine said. "Keeping
our water, electric and gas utilities safe from anyone who would
want to do us harm is a good step to take, especially in the times
we live in."
"This is a good bill that creates one more layer of safety to
protect the citizens of Illinois, and I'm very happy that the
governor is signing it," D'Amico said.
Senate Bill 2489, sponsored by Sen. George Shadid, D-Pekin, and
Rep. Bill Black, R-Danville, authorizes railroad terminal owners to
install and operate commercially built electric fencing around
terminals in order to improve homeland security of vital
"Keeping our railroad terminals safe from those who would want to
do us harm is vital in these times," Shadid said. "Along with
keeping other infrastructures secure, this bill will help everyone
feel safer in the long run."
"We need to make sure that safety and security is enhanced at our
railroad freight terminals and that these improvements are paid for
by the railroads and not Illinois taxpayers," Black said.
Both bills are effective immediately and build upon the state's
ongoing homeland security and preparedness efforts.
In 2004, Illinois
retained the nation's highest rating, green, from the Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention to manage the Strategic
National Stockpile during an act of bioterrorism or other mass
casualty event. Illinois is one of only six states to achieve
this preparedness rating.
In March 2004, the
governor implemented the Illinois-National Electronic Disease
Surveillance System, a secure, Web-based system for hospitals,
doctors and other health care providers to electronically report
infectious diseases. The system allows medical professionals and
public health officials to effectively respond to public health
emergencies immediately. The Illinois system is part of a
nationwide system linking state and local public health
departments with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In March 2004, the
administration launched a Web-based version of the hospital
bypass system, providing the state with up-to-the-minute
information from more than 200 hospitals in Illinois on the
availability of beds and other critical health care services
necessary to guide the response to an act of terrorism or other
public health emergencies.
Blagojevich administration, the Illinois Medical Emergency
Response Team has expanded to 12 teams and 900 participants.
IMERT responds and assists with emergency medical treatment of
mass casualty incidents when activated by the director of public
health. Each team consists of a physician, nurse, paramedic and
an EMT, who volunteer their time. The state continues to recruit
more volunteers to participate in this effort.
Readiness Initiative is a partnership with Chicago, St. Louis
and neighboring states, which focuses on conducting readiness
exercises between large metropolitan areas and states and how
the different entities can work together on preparedness.
[to top of second column]
The state created
the Illinois Public Health Mutual Aid System last year to
strengthen the preparedness of the public health system in
Illinois. Blagojevich called on all the local health departments
throughout the state to sign on to the project, which provides
for the sharing of resources in the event of a bioterrorist
attack or other emergency. All 95 local health departments in
the state heeded the governor's call to action and signed on to
participate in the system. The pact provides personnel,
equipment and supplies assistance to a stricken area by local
project is an initiative geared toward raising preparedness
efforts related to responding to chemical or nerve agent
terrorist attacks. Illinois distributed the chem-packs last fall
to hospitals around the state to protect against a nerve agent
attack. The packs contain medicine to treat nerve agent
The State Weapons
of Mass Destruction Team is a multiagency effort including the
Illinois State Police, Secretary of State Police, Illinois
Department of Public Health, Illinois Environmental Protection
Agency and Illinois Emergency Management Agency. The team is
trained to respond to a biological, chemical or radiological
agent attack. Specially trained individuals determine what type
of agent has been used and how to respond.
Last September, Blagojevich called for a major test of the
state's preparedness following Hurricane Katrina, when emergency
response in the Gulf Coast was overwhelmed by the nation's largest
natural disaster in history.
To test Illinois' emergency preparedness and ability to respond
to an influenza pandemic and terrorist attack involving weapons of
mass destruction, a large-scale, three-day exercise will begin on
Tuesday. Please note: This is an exercise only, designed to
improve emergency planning and preparedness.
The exercise will focus on key emergency responder coordination,
critical decisions and the integration of state and local assets
during a public health emergency and simultaneous terrorist
incident. It will also validate preparedness efforts since the
state's participation in the May 2003 national Top Officials 2
exercise, known as TOPOFF 2. There have been three national TOPOFF
exercises, which are designed to train top officials and first
responders from the federal, state and local levels. The exercises
also aim to develop a coordinated national and international
response to terrorist attacks involving weapons of mass destruction.
Illinois' exercise will begin Tuesday afternoon and conclude
Thursday afternoon. Between 1,500 and 2,000 people are participating
in the exercise, including the State Weapons of Mass Destruction
Team, the Mutual Aid Box Alarm System, the Illinois Law Enforcement
Alarm System, the city of Chicago and Cook County, the Illinois
Medical Emergency Response Team, the Civil Support Team, the
American Red Cross, and several Community Emergency Response Teams.
State agencies involved in the exercise are the Illinois
Emergency Management Agency; the Illinois departments of
Transportation, Corrections, Public Health, Agriculture, Central
Management Services and Natural Resources; Illinois State Police;
Illinois National Guard; Illinois Commerce Commission; Office of the
State Fire Marshal; Illinois Environmental Protection Agency; and
the Secretary of State Police. Representatives from these agencies
and the American Red Cross will coordinate response efforts through
the State Emergency Operations Center in Springfield. The operations
center will coordinate with the city of Chicago and Cook County on
response to the health crisis portion of the exercise, which will be
centered in that region.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is assisting in the
development and evaluation of the exercise and is providing
approximately $750,000 to fund the exercise.
[News release from the governor's