Area first responders put skills to the test during major emerge - – Rockford’s News Leader

Area first responders put skills to the test during major emergency drill


On Wednesday afternoon, the streets outside the BMO Harris Bank Center in downtown Rockford looked like absolute chaos.  First responders swarmed the area after a mock bomb explosion. 

"Events like this help prepare our firefighters, our police officers, all the EMS workers, all the hospitals that are local so we can be prepared as we can," says Rockford Fire Division Chief Matt Knott.  "These are the things we can practice.  We can pause if we need to but it helps us ultimately be prepared if an event like this happens for real."

 Knott says the drill aims to push the area's first responders and their resources to the max.  Filled with situations that force emergency personnel to think on their feet. 

"If everything went well, we wouldn't learn.  We're designed to break things and make sure things are working, and really what doesn't work and ultimately that helps develop our improvement plan as we move forward."  

On top of first responders, venue staff also played a role in the drill. 

"It was beneficial for the staff to see some hypotheticals and how we would respond as a full time staff," says IceHogs Director of Business Operations Mike Peck.  "We will be evaluated and we will get feedback on this is what you did well, this is what you need to improve on. That's invaluable to us. To make sure that everyone that comes to an IceHogs game or a concert or a show, they can feel safe."  

Throughout the scenarios, evaluators kept a close eye on every decision that's made. 

"Those evaluators are taking notes on what we're doing well, and some things we may have stumbled on," says drill planner and SwedishAmerican educator Steven Kirschbaum.  "We need to plan for things that could happen, not what will happen."

The emergency drill was planned months ago, long before the Las Vegas massacre. 

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