WOODSTOCK – Gaining real-life experience was the focus of active-shooter training Thursday morning at Woodstock North High School.
Members of the Woodstock police and fire rescue departments took part in the drill that simulated a shooter entering the high school and injuring several people. District 200 staff and members of the Explorer Police Post observed the controlled event and also acted as students, teachers and victims.
“We have to be prepared for anything,” Woodstock police Sgt. Dan Wesolek said. “Today was a functional training exercise all about communication and rapid deployment.”
The exercise began with the designated shooter firing a starter pistol.
School officials then issued a Code Red and placed the building on lockdown, and a 911 call was made. Officers were dispatched to the school in a staggered pattern to try to locate the suspect and secure the building.
With live radio communication and a commanding officer surveying the situation from a staging area, one-by-one the officers swept each floor of the school and found the shooter within minutes.
Longtime Woodstock police officer Fred Spitzer couldn’t help but get amped up for the training exercise.
“You have to get in the right mindset during something like this because you never know what could happen,” said Spitzer, an officer for more than 29 years. “How you prepare matters.”
After the building was deemed secure and all victims were identified, rescue personnel were called to the scene.
“We have to maintain proper command and control from outside or else the situation could break down quickly,” Wesolek said. “It will be like a lightning strike when it happens, but our guys have to take their time because it has to be a safe environment for the fire department to enter.”
A team of emergency responders then entered the school to first identify and remove injured victims with the greatest chance of living. They were then transported to the triage area, where they would either be treated or transported to area hospitals.
“It was important to see how my guys would handle rapid removal,” Woodstock Fire Chief Ralph Webster said. “In a real scenario like this, we have to get those people who are injured but showing signs of life out quickly.”
Later, commanding officers from the departments involved held a mock meeting to discuss how incident information would be disseminated to media outlets.