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PIO Attends Preparedness Training

Mar 23, 2012 (updated on Mar 23, 2012)

During the week of March 12, Peoria County's Director of Strategic Communications Jenny Fulton attended an Advanced Public Information Officer training at the Center for Domestic Preparedness (CDP) in Anniston, AL. The CDP, operated by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency, provides a variety of preparedness training courses for first responders and personnel involved in disaster response and recovery efforts, including Public Information Officers (PIO) such as Ms. Fulton. The CDP incurs all costs associated with its trainings, including travel, room, and board for participants.

Public Information Officers are responsible for the dissemination of accurate, timely information to the public in the event of a large scale disaster. When a large disaster occurs, a Joint Information Center is established from which PIOs manage information and quell misinformation. PIOs work closely with media outlets to ensure accurate information regarding the disaster is disseminated as quickly as possible to protect the safety of the general public.

During last week's APIO training, attendees participated in a Joint Information Center practical exercise to practice information management on a full scale. Of the 36 participants, Ms. Fulton was selected to serve as Lead PIO to supervise all activity in the Joint Information Center. The two-day exercise simulated JIC operations of a Type I disaster, a disaster that crosses jurisdictional boundaries and involves multiple levels of government, in this instance local, state, and federal.

Upon completion of the training and practical exercise, Ms. Fulton is better prepared to serve the community as PIO: "I am confident that should a large disaster occur in our community, be it the size of the Elmwood tornado two years ago or the size of Katrina, Peoria County residents will be kept informed of the disaster response and recovery efforts, as well as actions they can take to keep themselves and their families safe."

Peoria County partners with other units of government, first response agencies, hospitals, educational institutions, private business, and service organizations in a five-county region to prepare for managing the volume of information during disaster. Indeed, Ms. Fulton has chaired the region's Public Information Officer Committee since its establishment in 2007. The PIO Committee meets quarterly and has a membership of 55 communications professionals representing 49 agencies.

For more information regarding the Advanced Public Information Officer training or the region's Public Information Officer Committee, call Jenny Fulton, Director of Strategic Communications at (309) 672-6918.

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