“We will be prepared if it does happen,” said Winnebago County Sheriff’s Deputy Chief Dominick Barcellona, on the possibility of a mass casualty event happening in the Rockford area.
“We can’t always be naive it can’t happen here,” Barcellona said. “That’s what everybody says, ‘it can’t happen here’, we’ll we are not going to know where it’s going to happen, if it’s going to happen,” he added.
“It’s mass chaos in any situation once you first get it your going to have citizens calling,” he said. They’re going to have different reports, I mean going back to the Las Vegas thing there were reports of three gunmen but there was only one,” he added. “So your going to be in mass chaos,” he said.
The mass chaos is what Barcellona and thousands of Winnebago and Boone County first responders will be training for next week. They’ll simulate a bombing at the BMO Harris Bank Center, as well as a vehicular assault and barricaded suspect at the Cherry Valley Fire Department on Blackhawk Road.
The training is now more important than ever after 59 people lost their lives including the shooter in Las Vegas. A gunman opened fire from his hotel room down on thousands of concert goers.
“Anytime something like this, like Las Vegas happens, it should be looked at beyond the shock factor,” said Swedish American EMS Educator Steven Kirschbaum. Kirschbaum is one of the simulation directors. He says the drill was organized before Sunday night’s events, but adds first responders can learn from the incident.
“It should be looked at and talked about to figure out how we can adjust to meet the needs of something like that happening in our town,” he added.
With popular events in Rockford coming up such as Stroll on State, which brought in 75,000 people last year, Barcellona says residents should always work with police if they see something suspicious.
“Don’t be afraid to say ‘well you know I saw this and it kind of didn’t look right, but I didn’t want to say anything.’ Tell us, we would rather somebody tell us that something doesn’t look right and we check it out and it’s nothing, than not be told about it,” Barcellona said.
Volunteers are needed for the simulation on October 11th. Those interested must register by 5:00 p.m. Thursday October 5th, by contacting the Rockford Fire Department at 779-348-7171.