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Just a Drill: Oswego Fire, Police Departments Conduct Active Shooter Training

Paramedics bring stretchers to transport victims during a training drill at Oswego East High School. Credit: Shannon Antinori
Paramedics bring stretchers to transport victims during a training drill at Oswego East High School. Credit: Shannon Antinori
The first call came in at around 8:50 a.m.: Gunshots at a local high school. 

As police descended on the scene, more information came trickling in: First, reports of three victims shot, then five, then an unknown number of victims. First responders moved quickly, rushing to the school as updates continued to roll in from dispatchers.

It's a nightmarish scenario — one that happens all too often in the United States, but one we hope never happens close to home.

On Friday, Oswego first responders partnered with area hospitals, police and fire departments to conduct an active shooter drill with mass casualties, making sure they're prepared if the unthinkable should ever happen. The drill took place at Oswego East High School, 1525 Harvey Road, with staging areas at nearby schools and Wheatland Salem Church.

Oswego Police Capt. Jeff Burgner said while police routinely conduct tactical drills, Friday's training was focused more on coordinating with other emergency responders and hospitals to get victims transported and out of harm's way as quickly and smoothly as possible.

The June 6 training was coordinated by the Oswego Fire Protection District.

In addition to Oswego police and fire, Kendall County Sheriff's Department and Joliet police were also on scene, in addition to firefighter/paramedics from Bristol-Kendall, Little Rock Fox, Plainfield, Aurora, Aurora Township, Hinckley, Naperville, Newark, Sandwich and North Aurora.

Assistant Fire Chief Josh Flanders said 40 actors portraying gunshot victims were taken to Rush-Copley and Mercy Medical Center in Aurora.

"The hospitals are geared up too as if there were a mass casualty," Flanders said.

In addition to about 70 student volunteers from Oswego School District, roughly 40 adults also signed up to portray victims and frantic parents, rushing to the school and the hospitals to inquire about their children.

In the active shooter scenario, an actor portrayed a shooter who began firing on students gathered in the cafeteria, targeting his victims from above as he stood on the second floor. 

According to reports that came in over the scanner, the shooter was in custody by 9:06 a.m.

"Our guys encountered him and they actually took him out," Burgner said, explaining that in an active shooter situation, officers are trained to get control of the threat.

Flanders said volunteers arrived early, getting to OEHS by 6 a.m. to get into character and makeup for the drill. Including first responders, Flanders said hundreds took part in the training. 

"The big key for us was the interaction" between agencies, Flanders said. "We train on our own, the police department trains on their own, the hospitals train on their own," he said. "This was about how things integrate."

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