Annual Training Drills Bring Hundreds of First Responders to Campus

By Roger AndersonAugust 24, 2018

Northwestern and local first responders completed a comprehensive, three-day emergency response exercise this week in Evanston.

The fourth-annual simulation’s primary goal was to enhance safety preparedness and to identify how all involved plan to respond to potential lab events involving hazardous materials. Participants included Research Safety,  Northwestern’s Department of Safety and Security, the Evanston Fire Department, the Northshore Regional Hazardous Materials Team (MABAS Division 3), and Northwestern’s Dispatch Center and Police.

“These annual exercises are important to Northwestern and our surrounding communities and provide an opportunity to strengthen and renew our teamwork, while developing new skills, protocols, and communications techniques to prepare for potential challenges during an actual emergency,” says Michael Blayney, executive director of Research Safety.  “This end of summer event has become an important way to prepare for the coming academic year, and I would like to thank the Department of Chemistry for providing our team the opportunity to practice sampling unknown biological, chemical, and radiological materials.”

While none of the actors in this year's trainings were transported to local hospitals, the drills did involve simulated injuries and the virtual release of hazardous materials.

“The Evanston Fire Department has been fortunate to team up with Northwestern and the Research Safety team lead by Michael Blayney,” says Evanston Fire Department Division Chief Paul Polep. “The University goes above and beyond creating meaningful HazMat situations, which test our first responders knowledge, abilities, and awareness. This partnership has proven to be immensely successful.”