Preparing for the unthinkable

More than 200 law enforcement and fire personnel from local, regional, state and federal agencies participated in a drill which simulated improvised explosive devices detonated in the NIU Convocation Center.
More than 200 law enforcement and fire personnel from local, regional, state and federal agencies participated in a drill which simulated improvised explosive devices detonated in the NIU Convocation Center.

More than 100 law enforcement and fire personnel representing Northern Illinois University, local, state and federal agencies participated in a Friday morning drill which simulated multiple improvised explosive devices going off in the NIU Convocation Center.

Police, fire and emergency medical first responders and investigators—as well as NIU senior administrators—participated in the training simulation that also included a barricaded subject within the Convocation Center.

As part of the drill, NIU activated a mock emergency operation center and tested aspects of the campus emergency notification system as well as interoperable communications systems.

“This exercise was months in the making, and I am thankful for the support our department has received from the administration and the many agencies that made this possible,” said NIU Police Chief Tom Phillips. “We do an exercise like this each year to test our systems as well as our communications, and we learned a lot today. We strive to provide a safe and secure campus environment to live and learn, and today’s event will help all of the participants in the unlikely event there is a scenario like this in our community in the future.”

DeKalb Police Chief Gene Lowery shared the sentiment.

“The multi-jurisdictional exercise at NIU will provide lasting benefits that will enhance our preparedness and make our university and community a safer place,” Lowery said.

The event had more than 200 participants, including the actors that portrayed victims in the scenario. Those with mock injuries were transported to nearby Kishwaukee Community Hospital by ambulance, with emergency medical technicians from Maple Park, Cortland, Somonauk and Sandwich joining DeKalb and Sycamore in participating. A helicopter from OSF Saint Anthony Medical Center in Rockford also trained as part of the mock incident.

The Kane County Sheriff’s Bomb and Arson Investigation Unit participated in the exercise as well, deploying a robot and detonating an explosive device hidden in a discarded lunch box that was found inside the Convocation Center.

“The Illinois State Police places great emphasis on jointly held agency exercises to accurately assess capabilities and the deployment of resources in real time situations,” said Illinois State Police spokesperson Matt Boerwinkle. “The lessons learned in today’s full scale exercise with NIU underscores the importance of continued interagency planning and communication to prevent and mitigate disasters.”

 

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