SPRING GROVE – It’s not often the McHenry County Sheriff’s Office, coroner’s office and various fire and police departments can be found in the same location on a Saturday morning.
Emergency responders from almost a dozen agencies in McHenry and Lake counties joined forces with a local business to conduct an active shooter drill Saturday in Spring Grove.
“Having regional drills allows us to work with our neighbors,” Spring Grove Fire Chief Rich Tobiasz said. “We do that at big fires, we do that at accidents, but the more opportunities you have to work together, the better you are.”
Tobiasz, the 35-year Spring Grove fire veteran who organized the drill, said his department has tried to have one or two active violence situation drills every year for the past three or four years.
The most recent previous drill had been at a school, but this was the first time a drill was held at a business. Tobiasz said schools often are the first location people might think of when they think of mass shooting situations, but he said businesses are just as prone.
Some of the agencies met before the drill at the Spring Grove Fire Protection District to go over the plan. Tobiasz said he wanted the scenario to be as realistic as possible.
“You’ve got the basics for it, but I’m not choreographing a dance,” Tobiasz said.
About 9 a.m. Saturday, Tobiasz called the drill into the closest dispatch center, announcing multiple victims with gunshot wounds at All-Rite Spring Co., 2200 Spring Ridge Drive. The company is a large factory, and the drill focused on its office area. Tobiasz played the part of a shocked witness, hoping to provide the dispatcher with practice as well.
Police and fire responders from Spring Grove, Fox Lake, Johnsburg, Richmond, the sheriff’s office, Wonder Lake, Hebron and Antioch were asked to respond within minutes. Tobiasz said the drill provided practice for the Rapid Response Team.
Police entered the building first, and when they determined the area was safe, escorted paramedics to the five actors pretending to be victims of the crime.
“In the past, you would wait until the building is totally secure – that could take hours. If there were people in the building bleeding, they could be lost,” Tobiasz said.
Local police and McHenry County Sheriff’s SWAT officers quickly apprehended the two actors playing the roles of shooters.
Paramedics attended to “victims,” while law enforcement continued to secure the building. Some of the actors even were taken to Centegra Hospital – McHenry to allow emergency staff there participation in the drill. Tobiasz said that in a real situation, Flight for Life might be used to transport victims to more remote hospitals so area trauma centers were not overwhelmed.
McHenry County Coroner Anne Majewski arrived later to work with the agencies.
“Overall, I think the whole thing went very, very well,” Spring Grove Police Chief Thomas Sanders said about an hour after the drill began.
All-Rite President Marty Krashoc said the organization jumped at the chance to lend its building to assist emergency responders.
“Well, we’re a community-oriented company, and we thought it would help law enforcement and emergency responders do their job,” Krashoc said. “If you get to see your boss leave in handcuffs, that’s something you don’t see every day, too.”