To the Editor:
During the April storms, Kane County sustained flooding along the Fox River, as well as flash floods from the heavy rains. As part of the county’s response to this disaster, many of the affected communities received assistance from the Office of Emergency Management, or OEM.
This aid came in the form of sandbagging supplies, assistance with evacuations, distribution of cleanup kits and – in the aftermath –documentation of damages so Kane County would qualify for a federal disaster declaration.
What the public may not know is that these valuable emergency management team members are all volunteers.
Not only do our OEM volunteers answer the call during disasters, but Kane County residents will regularly see them working behind the scenes to help local communities. They search for lost children, direct traffic at major vehicle crash scenes and help out at local community events, like North Aurora Days, the Sleepy Hollow and Pingree Grove Fourth of July fireworks and the Elburn Days festival.
OEM volunteers also serve as trained storm spotters who provide early warning of severe weather, provide support to the sheriff’s SWAT team and coordinate communications during major fires as members of the Mutual Aid Box Alarm System, or MABAS.
Over 80 members strong, OEM volunteers come from all walks of life, ranging from sales associates, to mechanics, to nurses, to defense contractors, to company presidents. During an average year, they donate over 7,000 hours to our county.
Given their uniforms, commitment and professionalism, it’s easy to think these eager public servants are Kane County employees, but they’re not. They’re volunteers in every sense of the word, giving back to their community with no thought for monetary compensation.
Since OEM volunteers seldom receive acknowledgment of their hard work and dedication, I want to say that I’m proud to be associated with such a fine group of unsung heroes who work so hard to keep our county safe every day of the year.
Director of the Kane County Office of Emergency Management