SPRINGFIELD – Richland Community College in Decatur today was recognized by the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) as the first community college in Illinois to receive the Ready to Respond Campus designation. Richland is the second Illinois campus to complete program requirements; the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign received the designation earlier this year.
Richland Community College was one of nine campuses in Illinois that participated in a 2013 pilot of the Ready to Respond Campus program, an initiative aimed at enhancing campus safety, preparedness and response efforts. The program is voluntary and is now open to all institutions of higher education in Illinois.
“All campuses have safety plans, but the rigorous standards of the Ready to Respond Campus program take those plans to a higher level,” said IEMA Director Jonathon Monken. “The Ready to Respond Campus logo tells students, parents, faculty and visitors that safety is a top priority on this campus. I applaud Richland Community College officials for their strong commitment to campus safety.”
Monken presented the college with a plaque bearing the Ready to Respond Campus logo. The college can use the logo on official correspondence, websites, brochures and other media. The designation is valid for three years, at which time Richland Community College officials can submit updated documentation in order to renew its status.
“The designation of a Ready to Respond campus is an indicator to our community that Richland has taken significant steps to put in place a comprehensive emergency preparedness plan to ensure campus safety. While we cannot completely insulate the campus from unexpected events, we can and should be prepared in an effort to mitigate negative impacts to the best of our ability,” said Richland Community College President Dr. Gayle Saunders.
To achieve Ready to Respond Campus status, a college or university must meet criteria that address hazard identification, risk assessment and/or consequence analysis, operational planning, incident management, training and exercise. In addition, the campus must develop and maintain a violence prevention plan and implement a campus outreach and education campaign.
Monken said several other campuses have taken significant steps toward the designation and will soon be recognized.
The Ready to Respond Campus program is the latest component of Illinois’ Ready to Respond effort. IEMA announced the Ready to Respond Community initiative in 2012 and plans to add Ready to Respond Schools K-12 and Ready to Respond Business.