On April 30, members of the Will County Courts participated in important emergency preparedness training at the Will County Emergency Operations Center. The exercise was entitled A.L.I.C.E. (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate) and was created to offer people the mental and physical tools necessary for survival in an active shooter or life-threatening situation.
The exercise was organized by Chief Judge Richard Schoenstedt and Deon Pillard, chief deputy of the Will County Emergency Management Agency.
“In today’s world, our employees need to
be prepared more than ever,” Schoenstedt said. “This training exercise gave
important information about real world situations.”
The exercise was facilitated by Mike Zegadlo, deputy chief of police for Lewis University in Romeoville. Zegadlo is a member of the Illinois Tactical Officers Association and has been presenting this training for two years to various groups in Will County. During the training, he presented real life scenarios, including the shootings at Columbine and Virginia Tech, and gave a detailed account of these events and what actions were most appropriate.
“This is an uncomfortable topic which makes many people anxious to discuss,” Zegadlo said. “But in the same way we prepare for other rare but catastrophic events: fires, tornadoes, terror attacks; we need to challenge ourselves to prepare for an active shooter. Chief Judge Schoenstedt has shown great leadership in bringing this potentially life-saving training to his personnel who engaged in the training with great enthusiasm.”
In both of these scenarios, Zegadlo demonstrated how the people who tried to “hunker” down and keep quiet in hopes of being safe were the most at risk.
“These shooters do not expect their environment to interact with them so I teach people that many times any sort of distraction, such as throwing something at a shooter, can interfere with their concentration enough to allow a safe get away,” he said.
This initial training was for executive level personnel at the courthouse but Schoenstedt said he plans to offer this training for all courthouse employees.
“The better prepared any of us are to handle an emergency situation, the better the outcome. I learned a lot from this training and am thankful to Mike [Zegadlo], Deon and the Will County EMA for offering this important training.”
The Will County Emergency Management
Agency is under the office of the Will County Executive Larry Walsh.