Bensenville EMA History

Bensenville Emergency Management Agency (EMA) began, as far back as can be determined, about 1963 as Bensenville Civil Defense and we can only speculate as to the duties and responsibilities was related to the cold war atomic / nuclear bomb threat.

EMA as with Civil Defense has always been built on a volunteer based group of local residents that are willing to get involved with emergency related training and response to emergencies or disasters.
Over time some activities included severe weather preparedness and response assistance, assisting the fire and police departments with emergency calls that were larger events and more personnel were needed. Some activities included traffic control, lighting, and crowd control at accidents or fire scenes.

Civil Defense existed due to the war related threat, that’s all Civil Defense was supposed to be taking part in, war related activities which were limited. It wasn’t until the late 70’s when the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) was created and the all-hazard approach was taken with Civil Defense, now called Emergency Services and Disaster Agency (ESDA) in Illinois. Now ESDA could take part, legally and with backing from FEMA, with all types of emergency threats, most of which centered on tornado preparedness and response after a touchdown.

While still under the Civil Defense program, Bensenville was able to receive funding through Civil Defense under the Department of Defense, for a new facility (1972) for both the Civil Defense and Police departments. The Public Safety Building, at 100 N. Church Rd., commonly referred to as the Police department building, came into being with Civil Defense in mind and the construction of our local emergency operations center.

Bensenville ESDA built relationships between the local fire and police departments and the types of assistance we could provide to them. From our new location at the Public Safety Building, ESDA began to develop a program of emergency preparedness and response. Preparedness through the development of our Emergency Operations Center (EOC), which helps officials with the management of a large scale emergency or disaster in Bensenville. Preparedness also includes public education of residents on what they can do to prepare themselves, before disaster strikes. The response component includes the education and hands on training of volunteers in disaster response procedures, as well as the actual response to a call.

There has been one more name change in the agency; ESDA became the Emergency Management Agency (EMA). After the tragic events of 9-11 many things changed for everyone in the fire service, law enforcement, public works, local administrations, and emergency management. Because of lessons learned from 9-11, many new procedures are in place, training for everyone in all services and at all levels of government, and we are all working to achieve those goals.

Over the years Bensenville CD/ESDA/EMA has responded to many different types of emergency calls locally and mutual aid to other communities. A few examples are; train derailment in Elmhurst, American Airlines flight 191 crash in Elk Grove Village, propane gas truck roll over on Rt 83 in Darien, tornado aftermath in Lemont, Freight tunnel flood in Chicago, Montgomery Wards fire Bensenville, Park and Shop fire Bensenville, Flooding events Bensenville, severe weather watches and warnings, Roadside Safety Checks, and many more.

Bensenville EMA also conducts Citizen Emergency Response Training (CERT) classes, which are self-help courses residents can take to help with individual preparedness before help arrives during a major emergency or disaster event.

For information on direct involvement with EMA or CERT courses, contact Bensenville EMA by email at or or call 630-350-3461.