Training prepares emergency responders

Training prepares emergency responders

RANTOUL -- First responders teamed up for hands-on training Thursday.
RANTOUL -- First responders teamed up for hands-on training Thursday. They want to be ready for any emergency. WCIA-3's Jessica Shaw was there for the start of the intense three-day session.

The Champaign SWAT team, the National Guard and more than a dozen other agencies took part. They say it's all about being prepared.

The first part of training is at abandoned apartments. Officials want to make the training as realistic as possible.

Crews suited up to put their knowledge to the test. In another building, teams made beams to help clear a smoking apartment.

"This exercise is probably the largest we've ever had in Champaign County."

For deputies taking part, it's an experience which will help them be even better-equipped.

"We don't ever do a full-scale exercise where they're being everybody together. I mean, all local resources to the state level to include the national guard."

About 400 people, more than 20-different agencies are here for the three-day exercise. It's a chance to work with groups they don't normally see.

"When you have the opportunity for city resources, you build an understanding of what your capabilities and limitations are."

While it looks like an actual emergency, it's not your typical scene. Crews are practicing scenarios, everything from a hostage situation to dealing with hazardous materials. Even area hospitals are involved.

"We'll be staging casualties in Champaign and we'll be moving them to different hospitals so they can have that experience influx of mass casualties as the buildings explode."

"It's going to be beneficial to the community if there's ever going to be a real-world incident."

The lessons learned now are the ones emergency crews can take back into the field. Agencies say they do this type of exercise, maybe once every couple of years. It took about eight months to plan just three days of training, but it will yield very valuable information.
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