Only a drill: Police, firefighters stage mock attack at Shorewood school
By Brian Stanley firstname.lastname@example.org September 21, 2013 9:38PM
Updated: October 23, 2013 6:50AM
SHOREWOOD — State law requires police departments and faculty to drill each year for an armed attack at a school.
While Police Chief Aaron Klima never has had to remind anyone to take them seriously, the intensity level can falter during the scenario.
“If the doors are locked, the lights are off and the kids are out of sight — those are the things they’re looking for. The rest is (for) discussion,” Klima said Saturday. “This felt a lot different ... as real and intense as possible.”
Shorewood police, Troy firefighters and several neighboring police and fire departments staged a shooting drill Saturday morning at Walnut Trails Elementary School.
No students were present, but staff members were joined by police Explorer and criminal justice students portraying victims, bystanders and concerned relatives.
“We put this together because we don’t know everything about active shooter situations. We need to learn from what you tell us,” Cmdr. Eric Allen, who organized the drill, told police from Shorewood, Crest Hill, Minooka, Joliet Junior College, Channahon, Braidwood and Lockport.
Soon after shots from a starter pistol and the fire alarms were heard inside, Donna Prince and Angie Ariagno began calling emergency dispatchers.
The administrative assistants portrayed worried neighbors, trapped staff members, frantic parents and pesky reporters to start the police response. Shorewood officers arrived first, followed by other departments in the likely order they could cover the distance between their towns and the school.
With a soccer tournament being held at the park adjacent to the campus, sirens and speed were imaginary as police arrived.
With live firearms being kept from the drill, officers held yellow-taped guns and shouted “bang bang” as they confronted the perpetrators.
Firefighters established a triage center down the street from the school while tactical medics geared up in camouflage and body armor.
“Training for this in a classroom isn’t the same with the noises and the confusion,” Troy Fire Chief Steve Engledow said.
Over a dozen evaluators who watched from “safe areas” will submit written reports to the police and fire departments, but Engledow already plans to streamline the communication among departments during incidents.
“We also need to shore up our supplies, and that’s why we’re doing this. I think we’ve learned a lot today,” Engledow said.