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Illinois community members gather to prepare for emergencies

Emergency preparations benefit from community participation and coordination. To improve disaster response, Illinois residents and officials recently met to discuss ways to get ready for crises and to engage in a tabletop activity to stimulate preparedness considerations, the Southern Illinoisian reported.

The gathering was held at Aldersgate United Methodist Church in Marion, where a dozen community members cooperated to get ready for emergencies. Kelly Huddleston, director of Williamson County Emergency Management Agency, suggested that creating volunteer reception centers in Williamson County would be optimal for preparedness.

"The point is to try and eliminate waiting time when volunteers arrive at a disaster scene," Huddleston said. "This helped open our eyes. We had a chance to sit down and collaborate on how to make this response team happen."

A Federal Emergency Management Agency grant of $4,600 stimulated the push for the establishment of the centers. With the help of this funding, each reception location could be staffed with up to 35 volunteers that would manage media inquiries, registration and related tasks.

To supplement volunteer reception centers, officials can implement emergency alert systems to facilitate collaboration between responders. For instance, uAlert enables rapid distribution of vital information to community members.

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