Public Health & Health Care System Preparedness

The IDPH Office of Preparedness and Response provides emergency response planning, training, exercise, emergency response and evaluation services to all IDPH programs, local public health departments, and the healthcare system. In support of this, OPR provides many services such as:

  • EMT, ambulance licensing and hospital trauma, stroke, and pediatric specialized hospital programs.
  • Responds to the State Incident Response Center (SIRC) operated by the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA)
  • Responds to forward emergency command posts during emergency events throughout Illinois.
  • Full 24 hr / 7 day a week after-hours emergency communication with local health departments, hospitals, state agencies and the public.
  • Emergency radio services with all Illinois hospitals, health departments and other State and local agencies. This involves the Starcom21, MERCI and other radio systems.
  • State of Illinois Rapid Electronic Notification System (SIREN) provides 24/7 emergency alerting, notification and contact information services for IDPH staff, local public health departments, hospitals and other State agencies.  It also used by the Illinois Public Health Mutual Aid System (IPHMAS) to allow local health departments to request emergency aid from one another.
  • Coordinates with the federal BioWatch program to detect and respond to the release of pathogens into the air.
  • Response support, training, and exercise services for local health departments, hospitals, and IDPH programs.  This includes grant funding and CEMP . . . a web-based emergency planning, exercise, and assessment system used by local health departments and hospitals to support emergency planning and exercise activities.
  • Provides preparedness and other education resources and training plans for IDPH, local public health departments, and hospitals through I-TRAIN.
  • Maintains several mobile Illinois medical emergency response teams (IMERT) that are deployed by IDPH or IEMA to medically support planned and unplanned events.
  • Supports several volunteer programs including SERVE ILLINOIS and Illinois HELPS.

State of Illinois Emergency Medical Countermeasures Program (EMCM)

Also known as the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS), the purpose of the EMCM Program is to deliver critical medical assets to the site of a national emergency. The SNS assets are available from the federal government to save lives, prevent disease, and facilitate basic health care service when there is a terrorist attack, a natural disaster, or an industrial accident. The SNS contains drugs, antidotes, and medical/surgical supplies designed to enhance response to weaponized biological agents such as anthrax, plague, and tularemia. The SNS is built on the assumption that a natural or terrorism related biological event has the potential to rapidly strain, if not deplete, local supplies of medical materiel. The Program’s primary mission is to deliver medical materiel to a safe site proximal to the affected area and formally transfer custody of the assets from the federal to state government officials.  Additional assets include Federal Medical Stations (FMS), antivirals, vaccines, equipment and other medical supplies.

The Illinois Pharmaceutical Stockpile (IPS)

IPS is a state sponsored cache of medical materiel pre-positioned and field deployed to aid state/local emergency response. The IPS currently contains drugs and antidotes designed to enhance response to weaponized preparations of nerve agents (organophosphates), industrial chemicals, radiological ionizing radiation and other biological agents such as anthrax, plague, and tularemia. The IPS is built to supplement the SNS, ensure state and local responders are provided the initial pharmaceutical medications, and provide drug and antidotes for non-SNS events.

CHEMPACK Program

The toxic effects of nerve agents require immediate pharmaceutical intervention.  Traditional stockpiling and delivery would take too long because these antidotes need to be administered quickly. IDPH’s CHEMPACK Preparedness and Response Plan provides guidance to State and local authorities for the storage, maintenance, and utilization of chemical/nerve agent antidotes during a chemical agent event when local resources have been depleted.  Illinois’ CHEMPACK caches are stored in geographically dispersed hospitals. More than 90% of the U.S. population is within one hour of a CHEMPACK location, and if hospitals or first responders need them, they can be accessed quickly. The delivery time ranges from within a few minutes to less than 2 hours.

Biological, Chemical and Radiological Agents Factsheets

Illinois Public Health Mutual Aid System (IPHMAS)

Since its creation in 2004, IPHMAS has allowed a local health department in Illinois to formally request assistance from another local health department during a public health response for which they may lack sufficient resources.  IDPH provides administrative and coordination support through its secure SIREN notification and alerting system.  However, the nationally-recognized public health mutual aid system is solely governed by the Executive Board of IPHMAS composed of representatives elected by IPHMAS members that have signed the standard IPHMAS mutual aid agreement