An Exercise in College Disaster Response

With president Doug Baker participating, Northern Illinois University took part in a training exercise for emergency disaster response centered around the Convocation Center on the DeKalb campus, according to the Daily Chronicle. Simulating a bomb exploding, the event featured hundreds of law enforcement and emergency personnel, as well as officials from the university, and volunteers playing the roles of victims.

Based on his participation, Baker noted his confidence in the university's preparations, and readiness in the event of a large-scale emergency. “I hope we’re becoming the state’s role model for how this [works], or even the region’s role model,” he told the Daily Chronicle.

The response included the NIU police department, participants from police forces from surrounding towns, the Illinois State Police, the Kane County Sheriff's Office, and fire and medical personnel, among others, and extended to the involvement of the OSF St. Anthony Medical Center, which made its Lifeline helicopter and Level 1 trauma center available for the exercise.

“Reality-based scenario training is one of the best ways to train people in how to deal with [a mass emergency],” NIU police chief Thomas Phillips told the Daily Chronicle. “It’s practice-makes-perfect, scrimmaging before the big game. So actually going through the physical actions of what you would do that day builds muscle memory. If you never [practice], when it comes time, you’re not going to be able to do it.”