MT. VERNON — Mutual aid agreements for fire and police are common in the area and now the city has an agreement covering public works.
“The agreement is similar to the fire mutual aid agreement we have with the (Mutual Aid Box Alarm System) for fire and the (Illinois Law Enforcement Alert System) we have for police,” explained city Emergency Management Director Kevin Sargent. “In a disaster, we join forces with other municipalities to help provide assistance. This agreement is for the public works aspect.”
Under the terms of the agreement, if a natural disaster happened in Mt. Vernon, other municipalities which are part of the Illinois Public Works Mutual Aid Network could be called upon for help with equipment such as heavy equipment, trucks, backhoes and workers to help remove debris. In return, the city would be called on to help other communities if the need arises.
Sargent said the city was contacted about two years ago about being part of the mutual aid system due to location and size of the community.
According to the agreement, which was provided to the council and to the press prior to the meeting, if a request is made for assistance “at a time when it is necessary to provide similar aid and assistance to the (city’s) own constituents, this agreement shall not be construed to impose any unconditional obligation on any party to provide aid and assistance. A party may choose not to render aid and assistance at any time, for any reason.”
In addition, it is presumed if a city agrees to send help, the help will be for an initial period of 12 hours, and “responding agency may recall its aid and assistance at any time at its sole discretion.”
Sargent also explained if a state emergency is declared, the state would reimburse the city for a portion of its expenses in responding — if a federal disaster or emergency is declared, reimbursement would be made on the federal level to the city.