A frightening scene in the Englewood neighborhood with buildings collapsed and mock victims on the ground was all part of a disaster drill aimed at keeping residents safe during severe weather. Anthony Ponce reports.Chicago and suburban firefighters swarmed Englewood Tuesday morning for a massive, 24-hour disaster drill.

This drill simulated the aftermath of a tornado ripping through the Chicago neighborhood, leaving cars inside buildings, homes torn apart, and people injured and trapped.

None of it was real, but for hundreds of emergency responders, it’s the best kind of practice for the real thing.

“It’s great that we’re able to do this before something actually happens,” Fire Commissioner Jose Santiago said.

Chicago Fire Department spokesman Larry Langford said the group practiced what to do in the event of a tornado. The arriving companies didn’t know what they are headed into, Langford said.

The drill started with actual 911 calls from the scene to test the skills of dispatchers downtown:

LEARN WHAT TO DO: Be tornado-ready

Among the drills, firefighters will rescued dozens of mannequins as well as about 120 mock victims from two already collapsed buildings, one an apartment building and the other a parking garage.

Langford said each of the mock victims were made up to look like they were dead or injured and some were trapped. Each victim had their vitals on a card, and the most serious patients were rushed to pop-up triage centers.

[The goal is to] identify our strengths, identify things that we need to improve on, then sit down and figure out if we need to revise plans or do the plans that we have work,” Asst. Fire Commissioner Jody Chattin said.

“Probably the most important things is dealing with outside agencies and also inner agencies in the city,” Santiago said.


This is actually one of several large-scale drills planned in Chicago this year. The next one is a high-rise disaster scheduled to take place at the AON Center this coming June. All of the drills are funded by grants from the Department of Homeland Security.


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