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Chatham Emergency Management Agency (CEMA)

As the nation enhances its capabilities for dealing with weather, terrorism and other disasters, there is a corresponding need for local jurisdictions to participate in, and comply with newly mandated federal and state preparedness and response initiatives.

Recognizing this need, the Board of Trustees in early 2014 authorized transformation of the village's single-hazard, weather-focused approach to the federal/state required multi-hazard approach. The existing ESDA Weather Spotter program was incorporated into the newly structured Chatham Emergency Management Agency(CEMA.)  Development of all planned Phases was substantially completed in May of 2015.

The Village of Chatham on July 24, 2018 appoints Trenton N. Thompson as their new CEMA director.


Building disaster resiliency through community readiness.


  • Emergency Operations Plan, Continuity of Government Plan
  • National Incident Management System Compliance
  • Coordination of Incident Command for Major Emergencies
  • Disaster Response Capabilities Enhancement
  • Community/Business Involvement and Partnerships
  • Preparedness Training and Exercises/Drills


CEMA has recently undergone a leadership change.  The Village Emergency Operations Plan (EOP) and Government Continuity Plan are currently under review by the CEMA Director and key stakeholders for revision, acceptance, and approval of the plan.   The EOP is expected to be approved in late Spring of 2019.

Chatham Outdoor Warning System (COWS)

  • CEMA operates an Outdoor Warning System consisting of strategically placed sirens that are capable of alerting residents of impending dangers when outdoors. 
  • The system is tested at 10 a.m. on the first Tuesday of each month with a single tone, 3-5 minute alert.
  • NOTE:  The sirens are NOT capable of alerting residents who are inside buildings.

Chatham Emergency Management Agency Volunteer Program

The Chatham Emergency Management Agency (CEMA) has established a volunteer organization.  The volunteers work with the first responders in the community in the time of disaster or to assist in community events.   Volunteers are also trained as NOAA/National Weather Service (NWS) Weather Spotters who are deployed by CEMA when impending weather conditions may present a danger to the community.

Volunteer’s Mission:

The mission of CEMA is to build disaster resiliency through community readiness.  To do this the CEMA volunteer will harness the power of every member through education, training, and volunteer service to make our community safer, stronger, and better prepared to respond to natural and man-made disasters as well as community events.

Volunteer’s Statement:

CEMA volunteers will work in the community with first responders to provide a quality resource for community events as well as disaster response assistance when the community is overwhelmed by an incident or requires additional trained volunteers.

Volunteer’s Goals:

The goals of the CEMA volunteer are:

       1.    To ensure our focus is safety for ourselves, our team, first responders and disaster victims.

       2.    To do the greatest good for the greatest number of people.

       3.    To maintain readiness through ongoing training.

       4.    To maintain professionalism in all areas within the scope of the program.

Volunteer’s Training:

Due to their mission, CEMA volunteers may respond and operate in several different environments and be responsible for numerous functions. All CEMA volunteers must receive an appropriate level of training necessary for their function.

  • ICS 700, 800, 100 and 200
  • First Aid/CPR
  • Shelter Operations
  • Damage Assessment
  • Hazardous Materials Awareness
  • Search and Rescue
  • Spontaneous Volunteer Management
  • Any additional training approved by the CEMA Training Committee

NOAA/National Weather Service (NWS) and CEMA sponsor periodic Weather Spotter classes, taught by NWS experts.  Click this link for class information:

Volunteer’s Requirements:

All volunteers are required to attend monthly meetings and established training.  These meetings  are intended to discuss past and future deployments and issues within the organization.  Training is also completed during the meetings to continually enhance the volunteer’s ability to function in an event or disaster. 


Still Interested?   After you complete your application it will be reviewed and you will be notified of a time for an interview.  If you complete these phases of the process a background check is done.  If you pass the background check successfully you will notified of your acceptance onto the team.   

To complete a volunteer application, go to this link and apply online: or print the application out, complete it, and then mail it to:

                        CEMA Director, 116 E. Mulberry, Chatham, IL 62629

Have Questions?  Contact CEMA at 217-697-5800 Ext. 100 or email us at .  We look forward to hearing from you.

Community Preparedness Awareness and Training

  • Chatham strives for optimal disaster readiness and community resilience.  

CEMA is developing several programs to utilize the talent, experience and potential of residents to participate in the community’s disaster readiness and ability to bounce back.

Coming Soon:

  • Partners4Preparedness
  • Family Emergency Plan Workshops
  • Online, On-Demand Preparedness Training
  • Community Emergency Response Teams
  • Business Continuity Sessions
  • Chatham Check’d™ - business preparedness initiatives

(See the Exercises and Classes tab for current training opportunities)

Major Emergencies


In the event of a natural or man-caused disaster or major emergency, CEMA assists first responders by providing service coordination and incident command, as needed.


During large-scale events CEMA facilitates multi-jurisdictional involvement and mutual aid agreement implementation, including coordination with county, state and federal agencies.


CEMA works with village officials and response agencies to ensure accurate situational information is collected and disseminated to residents and businesses as quickly as possible.


First responder (Police, Fire, EMS, Public Works) involvement usually ends when there is no longer an immediate threat to the community and injuries, fatalities and infrastructure damage have been managed.

CEMA stays involved in recovery operations by assisting in:

  • Damage Assessment
  • Sheltering Aid
  • Volunteer, Relief and External Response Agency Coordination
  • Short and Long-Term Recovery Plans
  • Business Continuity Information
  • Community Communication



CEMA assists village departments and external organizations with prevention programs, and identification, as well as implementation of disaster mitigation initiatives.


Community preparedness initiatives are currently under development, and will include resident and business training, as well as opportunities for participation.


CEMA is updating the Chatham Emergency Operations Plan and Government Continuity Plan, for completion by Spring, 2015.


All systems and plans are tested, drilled and exercised on a scheduled basis to ensure optimum efficacy and readiness.


Chatham subscribes to and utilizes the National Incident Management (NIMS) System for village emergency response services.

CEMA also uses NIMS to assist in the coordination/management of large special events held in the village.


Emergency services for the village are provided by the Chatham Fire Protection District, Chatham EMS, Chatham Police Department and Chatham Public Works.

The Chatham Emergency Management Agency's response function encompasses incident command and coordination of emergency services delivery during large-scale incidents, on an as-needed basis. Normally, such assistance will be required only during declared disasters, extremely hazardous or larger incidents.



CEMA's role in Chatham's disaster readiness and resiliency initiatives presents numerous opportunities to work collaboratively with village and township residents, CPD, CFD,Ball-Chatham School District, Chatham Area Chamber of Commerce and community service organizations.

Such collaboration is not only critical to its mission, but also reinforces the village's already excellent reputation as a caring and business friendly community.




The Chatham Emergency Management Agency (CEMA) is accepting new volunteer applications.   As the population of Chatham is growing we are hoping to increase the number of volunteers to meet the need.   Volunteers will work in various roles in the community after completing the required training.  If you live in the area of Chatham and are at least 18 years of age please go to the link shown below and complete the application.  After completion of the form, save it, and then you may either email the saved application to or print the form and mail it to:

                Chatham Emergency Management Agency 
                116 E. Mulberry Street
                Chatham, IL 62629
                ATT: CEMA Director


Applications will be reviewed and candidates notified for an interview.  We are going to only take a limited amount of volunteers so get your application in as soon as possible.  If you have any questions please contact CEMA at