The massacre in Las Vegas was horrific, but intense police training helped them limit casualties.
Today, first responders in Rockford staged their own mass casualty incident to train for events they hope will never come.
Anyone passing by the BMO Harris Bank Center this afternoon might have thought the the place was under attack, as first responders surrounded it and streets closed off for hours.
But that’s exactly what those involved were supposed to be thinking as they prepared themselves, in one of their biggest training events this year.
“This is a large scale exercise and designed to tax resources and work on that coordination between all these different partners,” said Division Chief Matt Knott from the Rockford Fire Department.
Emergency services rehearsed their response to a bomb detonations and a vehicular assault at two locations.
Several agencies from all over the Stateline participated in the simulations.
“Unfortunately, these are things that we have to prepare for,” said Knott. “And this is just another part of that preparedness effort.”
Everyone involved was tested by challenges meant to trip them up.
“It’s important to make sure that we do these drills. That way, we have all our systems in place,” said Sergeant Anthony Ponte from the Winnebago County Sherrif’s Department. “Any areas or loopholes that we have, we can fix those, and then we can improve the things that we need to improve.”
“The hardest part is, you just don’t know how anyone’s going to react when something happens,” said Mike Peck, the IceHogs Director of Business Operations. “But, I guess, if you’re trained, you kind of rely on your training a little bit and that’s what this is all about.”
Volunteers in realistic makeup played victims of the attack.
First responders on scene were triaging the victims according to the extent of their injuries.
Area hospitals also participated in the exercise, treating the victims and testing their ability to handle the surge of victims.
“We have to practice this exercise every year to receive patients, make room for those patients, and still continue with our daily operations,” said Steven Kirschbaum from SwedishAmerican.
Making training like this invaluable to all involved.
“We need to plan for things that could happen,” said Kirschbaum. “Not that are going to happen.”
All the agencies that participated in today’s event will be evaluated and will receive feedback on what went well, and what are some opportunities for improvement.
None of today’s events were planned as a direct result of any recent events.