IEMA Conference Underway in Springfield
IEMA Conference Underway in Springfield

The people who run toward the danger, and help clean up after it, are renewing their skills at the Illinois Emergency Management Conference in Springfield.

“Programs are changing all the time,” says Jonathon (cq) Monken, director of the Illinois Emergency Management Agency, “and the way that we respond to disasters changes all the time. An example is: FEMA has an entirely new system of debris removal following an event like a tornado.”

The conflict of man vs. man takes its place alongside the tornadoes and such.

Monken says, theoretically, even though the Connecticut school shootings occurred over a five-minute span, the emergency response time could have been shorter had the Sandy Hook school office and classrooms been equipped with panic buttons, not unlike the ones banks have.

Meanwhile, even though Oklahoma is a major tornado state, and even though massive twisters hit the city of Moore hard just last May, it’s a man-made catastrophe that touched the director of emergency management in that state.

“I lost my sister-in-law in the Oklahoma City bombing,” says Albert Ashwood. “From that day forward, I have looked different at disasters and realized how extremely personal they are.”

Ashwood told the conference not to get lost in their cubicles, thinking only of statistics on paper. The worst disaster is the one that hits your own house, he said.

He adds that any talk of a “safe room” in a school should include a plan to be prepared for a school shooter.