"Disaster Week" Drills Begin in Chicagoland

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Mannequins simulate those who could die in an airline disaster over Oak Lawn in Sunday's emergency response drill. (Published Monday, Jun 14, 2010)

    Sunday marks the beginning of what could best be titled "Disaster Week" in Chicagoland.

    Dozens of local and federal agencies are holding drills on how they'd respond to myriad kinds of catastrophies, from airline disasters to chemical attacks.

    Sunday morning in Oak Lawn, about 30 agencies took part in one such drill in Oak Lawn, which simulated a commercial airliner disintegrating mid-air, spraying the suburb with debris and bodies.

    In the simulation, crews took care of 250 people playing the wounded in the scenario, and another 300 mannequins simulating those who would have died. Hospitals and even military personnel participated in the response.

    Arthur Clark, an Oak Lawn Emergency Management spokesman, said the goal was "to make our mistakes now" so that when they have to respond to a real emergency, they'll know how to best coordinate their response.

    After the mock disaster, Clark said agency leaders will meet for "the good, the bad, and the ugly kind of a brief" to go over what worked and what didn't during the drill.

    More disaster drills will be held in Chicago, Bensenville and other locations throughout the week, including a mock chemical spill, train derailment and bomb explosion.  So if you see what looks like a scene of massive carnage on your drive to work this week, do a double-take and make sure they're not mannequins lying about before you call 9-1-1.

    Clark said he hopes people aren't too put off by street closures needed to conduct the massive drills, because officials are using the time to practice at keeping the public safe.