As the scenario began Wednesday evening, the Illinois Law
Enforcement Alarm System was activated to assist local law
enforcement and to provide its regional response team, which has
specialized equipment and training capable of responding to a
hostage situation. Based on intelligence received through the
scenario, the Illinois State Police then asked Gov. Rod Blagojevich
to deploy the State Weapons of Mass Destruction Team.
"tested our capabilities and resources to effectively react and
respond to acts of terrorism, whether chemical, biological,
radiological, nuclear or explosive threats," Blagojevich said. "We
put the system to the test, learned some lessons and are confident
that we will be ready."
The exercise used the National Incident Management System, which
provides a consistent nationwide template to enable all government,
private sector and nongovernmental organizations to work together
during domestic incidents.
Illinois' State Weapons of Mass Destruction Team can respond to a
terrorist incident anywhere in the state within 60 to 90 minutes of
notification. The team also provides all avenues of assistance from
the state of Illinois to the local incident command and the
appropriate federal agencies responsible for the investigation and
mitigation of such an incident. Specific functions for the team
include scene stabilization, establishment of an inner perimeter,
neutralization of any human threat; initial detection of hazardous
materials; decontamination of victims, emergency responders and all
items moving from the "hot zone" to the "cold zone"; crime scene
preservation; communication with the incident commander and the
State Emergency Operations Center; advanced preparation for the
Illinois National Guard Civil Support Team; and liaison with the
Federal Bureau of Investigation.
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"I'd like to thank all of the public safety agencies who
participated," Illinois State Police Director Larry G. Trent said.
"Should terrorists ever strike our state, exercises such as these
ensure our emergency response teams are prepared for such an
"The successful takedown of the terrorist cell shows the
well-integrated work of the members of the State Weapons of Mass
Destruction Team," said Col. Jill Morgenthaler, the governor's
deputy chief of staff for public safety. "We are prepared."
In 2004, Blagojevich accepted the prestigious Mitretek
Innovations Award in Homeland Security for the Illinois Terrorism
Task Force's development of the State Weapons of Mass Destruction
Team. The national award recognizes the most effective homeland
security programs and is sponsored by the Ash Institute for
Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard University's John F.
Kennedy School of Government and Mitretek Systems.
The state's ambitious three-day exercise began Tuesday afternoon
with a pandemic flu outbreak scenario in the Chicago area. As state
and local officials continued dealing with response to that scenario
on Wednesday, they received word of possible fictitious terrorist
attacks in the Chicago suburban area. In response, the governor, as
part of the exercise, "ordered" several actions to protect citizens,
including calling up Illinois National Guard troops, increasing
security at critical infrastructure in the Chicago area and asking
the Federal Emergency Management Agency for a federal disaster
The exercise provided the opportunity for state and local
response organizations to test their preparedness for dealing with
simultaneous major disaster events. Following the close of the
exercise on Thursday afternoon, participants gathered to discuss
activities and extract "lessons learned" that can be used to further
[News release from the governor's