The Illinois team was engaged this fall in preliminary organizational activities. We identified key leaders from both AIA Illinois and AFH Chicago to participate in the workshop and approached our contacts at the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) to discuss plans for staging the workshop. Various dates were discussed, but scheduling in the fall between key participants proved to be rather difficult.
The decision was made to postpone activities until after the holiday season.
As it turns out, postponing our planning actually worked in our favor on a number of fronts. Everyone's schedules loosened up a bit and allowed for full participation by all invitees. And the proposed deliverables of the grant dovetailed nicely with activities planned at the state level.
The current plan is to have an organization call between the key leadership of AIA Illinois and AFH Chicago on Friday, February 15th. The purpose of the call is to share resources, discuss common goals and strategies, and look for areas of institutional overlap or areas where each organization can leverage its particular strengths. After the call, which will last about 1-1/2 hours, the information gleaned will be shared with our contact at IEMA, Ashley Knuppel, so that she and her team can best prepare the workshop to meet our needs and expectations.
Also to our benefit, IEMA has scheduled a State Level Exercise (SLE) for March 6th. This year’s functional exercise is a weather-related event to include tornadoes and straight-line winds affecting 3 specific geographical locations in Illinois. The impacted areas are a) Metro-East, b) Greater Springfield and c) Manteno, IL. In their capacity as representatives of the Building Sector in the state's Business Emergency Operations Center (BEOC), David Bradley, AIA and Mike Waldinger, Hon. AIA will be participating in the event remotely through a web-based tool monitoring developments on the ground. Their role as members of the BEOC Building Sector is to respond to requests for assistance from the state's public agencies and coordinate the efforts of architects statewide to mobilize in the event of a disaster. Team members will assess our effectiveness in providing the necessary disaster relief and look for both successes and areas that need improvement. IEMA personnel will also be observing this dynamic.
Using what we will have learned from the February 15th coordination call and the results of our participation in the SLE, team members and IEMA staff will then finalize the program for our disaster response workshop. This workshop is being sponsored by IEMA, held at their facilities in Springfield, Illinois, and will focus on improving the integration of architects into the state's disaster response structure.
The scheduled date for the workshop is March 14th, 2013. This date coincided perfectly to follow AIA Illinois' Prairie Grassroots advocacy day. Several of our members will already be in Springfield for that event, so we will realize some cost savings by simply having them stay in town for the IEMA workshop.
We have included in the workshop not only AIA Illinois and AFH Chicago members, but also municipal officials, IEMA staff, members of the State Incident Response Center (SIRC), and representatives from the Illinois Capital Development Board. These are all parties who would interface in a real-life situation and their participation was seen as key to the program's long-term success.
It bears mentioning that the support from IEMA has been critical to our grant activities. Staff have been very constructive, engaged in dialog, and graciously offered their time and facilities at no cost. We couldn't do it without them.
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