"Every day we try to make this state
better prepared, better equipped and better able to deal with the
challenge and the scourge of terrorism," Blagojevich said during an
appearance at Loyola University Health System in west-suburban
Maywood. "Today is a good start, but it's only a start. The
challenges posed by the threat of terrorism will never be easy.
We'll always have to be -- and we always will be -- vigilant,
determined and aware of what has happened in this country and what
could happen here in Illinois."
Blagojevich said the federal rating is
yet another indication that Illinois stands ready and is one of the
best-prepared states to respond to acts of terrorism. And, the
governor noted, it validates that the state has in place a carefully
crafted plan that would quickly and efficiently allow the dispensing
of lifesaving antibiotics and other critical medical supplies to
people affected by a bioterrorism event.
The Illinois Department of Public
Health, the designated lead agency for bioterrorism response,
received notification recently that the state had achieved the
highest preparedness rating -- "green" -- under the Department of
Homeland Security and CDC's new evaluation system for handling
pharmaceutical supplies from the Strategic National Stockpile.
Under a previous, less formalized
evaluation process, New York City and Florida had received top marks
based on their successful deployment of the SNS during anthrax
terrorist attacks in the fall of 2001.
The system under which Illinois was
recently graded is now the standard for the Department of Homeland
Security and CDC's examination of an individual state's levels of
preparedness. It includes a detailed program evaluation, successful
completion of a deployment as part of a federal exercise and a site
visit to determine if all state assets are in place to handle SNS
Under the Illinois plan, Dr. Eric E.
Whitaker, state public health director, is the designated official
in the state who, in consultation with the governor, would initiate
a request for deployment of SNS. Once the SNS is transported to the
state, Illinois would be responsible for receiving, sorting,
repacking, security and distribution of the drugs to communities
affected by a biological or chemical attack.
[to top of second column in
The state's plan calls for coordination
among IDPH, the Illinois Emergency Management Agency, the Illinois
State Police, Illinois National Guard, Illinois Department of
Transportation, Illinois Department of Corrections, local health
departments, and city, and county law enforcement and emergency
Logan County ESDA and LEPC have begun
preparations to host the first full-scale terrorism exercise to be
performed at county level. State and federal agencies will be in
attendance at the May 2004 exercise. The practice will hone
communication and collaboration between multiple jurisdictions of
county, state and federal agencies. ["Preparing
for ‘The Big One' -- Saturday practice will prepare Logan County
Full details of the plan are
unavailable due to security concerns, but Illinois was able to
demonstrate its ability to dispense SNS assets in May during
TOPOFF2, the largest weapons of mass destruction exercise ever
conducted in the United States. During the five-day simulation,
Illinois received and dispensed sufficient antibiotics for
approximately 1 million citizens in Chicago and the counties of
Cook, Lake, DuPage and Kane.
Managed jointly by the Department of
Homeland Security and the U.S. Department of Health and Human
Services, the SNS mission is to provide large quantities of
essential medical material to states and communities during an
emergency within 12 hours of a request for deployment.
The SNS is a
national repository of antibiotics, chemical antidotes, antitoxins,
life-support medications, intravenous administration, airway
maintenance supplies, and medical and surgical items. It is designed
to supplement and resupply state and local public health agencies in
the event of a national emergency anywhere and at any time within
the U.S. or its territories.
Government News Network