by Sam Amick and Kathy Anderson
The Heartland Division has opened a new emergency disaster services (EDS) command center in Pekin, Ill., thanks to the generosity of the Leman Auto Group. Centrally located in the division, The Salvation Army Emergency Disaster Services Sam Leman Center provides easy access to two major highways which will allow EDS teams to respond quickly and efficiently to emergencies and disasters. The building offers upgraded infrastructure, technology and training facilities.
In addition to hosting the divisional EDS team, the downstate Illinois center will serve as the central hub for all EDS volunteers in the division to be trained and to meet before and after disaster assignments to share information. Videoconferencing capabilities will be added so that volunteers who are not able to attend can still be trained.
New classes geared toward disaster preparedness for the general public and community groups are being added. The EDS team will partner with local meteorologists and emergency professionals to lead these classes throughout the year. The new facility also houses the division’s SATERN (Salvation Army Team Emergency Radio Network) Communications Center, which features a communications room and a separate training area for SATERN volunteers and emergency responders who need access to communication networks during a disaster. New CB radios and receivers for all corps in the division and the EDS command center, purchased through a grant from Firehouse Subs, will enhance communications for disaster relief. With back-up power capability during power outages, the center enhances The Salvation Army’s partnerships with other emergency services throughout the region.
Lastly, the new EDS command center has raised The Salvation Army’s visibility in the Pekin community which affords the opportunity to more broadly tell our story and how we partner with the communities we serve.