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A host of area first responders took part in a tabletop exercise at Park Forest’s Freedom Hall Wednesday morning to discuss best practices in response to crisis situations.
The three-hour-long meeting led by Deputy Chief Christopher Mannino of the Park Forest Police Department and Deputy Chief Tracy Natyshok of the Park Forest Fire Department posed two different scenarios to participants – one on a train derailment and a second on an active shooter held up inside a local business.
For each scenario, several first responders were selected one by one to sit at a planning table situated in the center of the room. There, the disaster response team discussed how to best approach each incident. Following the team’s discussion, observers seated on the outside of the planning area were able to pose questions and offer additional insights based on experience, and what they observed.
“It’s important to better understand and practice how, as first responders, we would interact in these types of situations,” Mannino said.
Takeaways from the tabletop exercise are expected to be compiled in the coming weeks to improve policy.
Close to thirty took part in the discussion, including members of the Park Forest Police Department, the Park Forest Fire Department, the Illinois Law Enforcement Agency System, SouthCom Dispatch Center, Canadian National Railway, Rich Township Homeland Security, and members of Park Forest’s Public Works and Administration teams.
“To have so many professionals together in one room, not only from Park Forest, but from additional agencies in the region that support us, that has a lot of value and is really time well-spent,” Mannino said.
Wednesday’s tabletop exercise marks the third disaster planning session held by Park Forest officials this year. In April, Park Forest Police and Fire personnel took part in functional exercise that simulated an active shooter at Park Forest’s Village Hall. A second meeting was held at Village Hall the following week to engage senior staffers on the topic.
“The more practice we have, the better prepared we are, and you can never be too prepared,” said Village Manger Tom Mick.