About Us

The Suburban Emergency Management Project (SEMP) originated in 2001 with a grant from the Grace A. Bersted Foundation, which provides assistance to organizations in the suburban counties surrounding Cook County, Illinois. Margaret R. O’Leary, M.D., M.B.A., former chair of the M.B.A. program and the Executive M.B.A. for Physicians and Health Care Executives program at Benedictine University (Lisle, IL), served as principal investigator for the grant.

The grant funded four all-day joint public-private invitational SEMP meetings attended by regional leaders of health care, city and county management, public health, public safety, public utility, public works, emergency management, the American Red Cross, Argonne National Laboratory, the broadcast and print media, academia, businesses, and citizens.

The purpose of the four meetings was en masse exposure to evidence-based disaster management theory and practice articulated by national, state, and local experts; immersion in diverse professional cultures in a collaborative setting; development of the “SEMP Model”; cultivation of relationships among partners in disaster management; and publication of an anthology—The First 72 Hours—to document and share the experience with a larger audience.

SEMP offers a full spectrum of resources to support any community organization that provides or manages disaster-related services. SEMP publications include Securitas Magazine and Biot Reports (each free), SEMP Academy educational programs, disaster management consulting and custom education, and SEMP books, including the award-winning The First 72Hours: A Community Approach to Disaster Preparedness.