Illinois Governor Signs Campus Emergency Plans Bill

Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich signed a bill today requiring colleges and universities in the state to adopt emergency plans. The governor has been pushing for better emergency preparedness by colleges since the Feb. 14, 2008, shootings at Northern Illinois University, including Campus Community Emergency Response Teams at schools that were set up by recommendations in an April report by his Campus Security Task Force.

The Northern Illinois shootings took the lives of six people, including the gunman, who was a former graduate student at the school.

The measure Blagojevich signed on Friday directs schools to work with state and local emergency management officials starting Jan. 1, 2009, to conduct training and emergency response drills at least annually, Monique Garcia of the Chicago Tribune reported today.

"Training college and university personnel in basic emergency response techniques, such as fire safety, light search and rescue, and first aid, will help us further enhance student safety at campuses throughout Illinois," the governor said earlier this month at a Campus Community Emergency Response Teams train-the-trainer session involving representatives of 40 schools. "Earlier this year, the Campus Security Task Force highlighted the Campus Community Emergency Response Team program in its report on campus security. I'm very pleased that we are able to offer this critical training as colleges and universities prepare for the new school year." The Campus CERT program equips campus police, public safety, security, emergency management, emergency medical services, and other appropriate personnel to train and lead CERT teams at their schools. The original CERT program was developed by the Los Angeles Fire Department in the early 1990s in response to earthquake disasters and later adapted as an "all-hazards" course by FEMA.

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