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Loop Evacuation: This is Only a Test

By Hanna Aronovich in News on Aug 30, 2006 3:20PM

Remember how much fun fire drills were in grade school? Loud alarms, a break from class, a chance to talk with your friends outside (even though there was supposed to be no talking!) - it was essentially a mini recess. And, we didn’t have to pay attention because an emergency would never really happen to us. Oh, the invincibility of youth.

Fortunately, the city realizes its not unassailable, and a voluntary evacuation drill is scheduled for Sept. 7, CBS reports. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security designated September as National Preparedness Month, and Mayor Daley announced a section of downtown will participate.

Not all the details are available, but reports say the drill involves four buildings at the intersection of Monroe and Wacker, and will occur at 4 p.m. Tenants are not required to participate.

The Sun-Times explains the drill is designed to take emergency preparedness to the next level. Once outside, evacuees will be directed to transportation centers, and bused to emergency stations stocked with food, water, blankets and other essentials.
“When you do tabletop exercises, that’s one thing,” Chief Emergency Officer Cortez Trotter said. “But it becomes real life to people when they can actually see it. Once they see these exercises unfolding and they can understand that, ‘Hey, that could be me tomorrow, the day after tomorrow or next year,’ they start to pay closer attention to it.”

BePrepared.jpgAlthough Trotter said the evacuation will not cause “considerable disruption,” Daley pointed out the element of surprise is critical to the drill. “You can’t say, ‘Everybody has to do this. Now, we’ll give everybody an alert. Here’s what you have to do.’ That’s not an evacuation plan,” Daley said. “This has to be spontaneous. … There has to be some chaos.”

The drill is also designed to give officials an idea of where Chicago stands in its emergency response plans. We think the evacuation is a great step and look forward to future, larger-scale drills. When it comes to safety, the Boy Scouts have it right: “Be prepared.”