The Ready to Respond Community Award Program

Illinois' Ready to Respond Community Program is an IEMA initiative designed to recognize the preparedness efforts of communities statewide. Ready to Respond Community recognizes a community’s acceptance and achievement of readiness criteria developed by the Illinois Emergency Management Agency and endorsed by the statewide association of local emergency managers, the Illinois Emergency Services Management Association, for a better prepared community.

Through the Ready to Respond Community Initiative, communities with the assistance of the Illinois Emergency Management Agency and the Illinois Emergency Services Management Association work to complete training, implement plans and programs to improve government's ability to respond and recover from disaster, and ensure each citizen is better prepared for a disaster at home before it strikes. Ready Community emphasizes a "whole community" approach that includes government, volunteer and not-for-profit organizations, private industry, and citizens in overall preparedness efforts.

Communities achieving the Ready to Respond Community designation will be able to display a logo on their community letterhead, signs, and websites. The Ready to Respond Community designation signifies that a community is prepared and will need to be renewed every two years to ensure that as new officials come into decision making roles, they recognize the importance of preparedness.

What are the Goals of a Ready to Respond Community?

Ready to Respond Community is based on achievement of the following goals for all sizes and locations of communities that are flexible and modular:


Collaboration is the keystone of a successful emergency management program for every community. Preparedness begins with a whole community approach that includes all local officials, organizations, responders and private partners affected by disaster or responsible for recovering from disaster. For successful community preparedness, a collaborative approach must be implemented and applied.


Preparedness begins with a comprehensive assessment of all disasters that might impact a community. Community preparedness requires all organizations to determine the effects a disaster might have on the community; identify vulnerabilities a community might have to disaster; remove potential hazards or implement mitigation programs to reduce a community's vulnerability; develop and maintain plans and procedures for response and recovery to all disasters; and deliver public education and information to reduce an individual's and community's risk.


Continual enhancement and improvement is key to a community's capability to respond to and recover from disaster coupled with ongoing preparedness programs. Sustained, long-term enhancement requires a commitment by the community and local officials to stay engaged in emergency management.


Evaluation of the readiness of a community against established criteria provides the whole community with tangible and measurable benchmarks that are necessary to determine overall preparedness.
Criteria used in evaluation of applicants


Implementing a whole community approach provides an opportunity for collaboration and enhancement through all sectors. Implementation occurs equally throughout the Ready to Respond Community Program and delivers a comprehensive level of preparedness throughout a community.

Individual Preparedness

Individual preparedness is essential to ensuring a community is prepared and ready for disaster. Ready to Respond Community’s emphasis is on a whole community approach to response and recovery by engaging and educating our citizens to strengthen emergency management and expand Illinois' preparedness programs statewide.

Who are the Elected Officials, Senior Leadership and Key Response Officials?

Chief Elected Officials include, but are not limited to: Mayor or Village President.
Elected Officials include: Chief Elected Officials, as well as Village Trustees or City Council, County Board.

Key Response Officials: Public Works Director, Emergency Management Coordinator, Police Chief, Fire Chief, Public Health Administrator, Sheriff.

What are the Criteria for Evaluation?

The Ready to Respond Community Award Program uses national and state laws, rules, regulations, and guidance for evaluation criteria. Communities applying for the Ready to Respond Community award are required to meet 100% of the established criteria for recognition.

Criteria used in evaluation of applicants .