Mock disaster shows the effects of impaired driving

By Kyle Boyd

The eighth annual mock disaster drill was staged outside of the Convocation Center on Thursday.

The NIU Police Department teamed up with the DeKalb Fire Department and other local agencies to test emergency preparedness and response in the event of an actual crisis. The distracted driving simulation showed a Huskie bus and two vehicles colliding in an accident, resulting in multiple injuries.

“In a time of crisis, people fall back on their training,” said NIU Police Sgt. Alan Smith.

The mock disaster drill is designed as a testing response and exercise with a focus on communication, extraction and rescue. Smith said the exercises allow the response to become second nature when disasters happen.

“I brought my daughter to bring home the point that texting and driving are dangerous,” said Rose Brooks, a DeKalb resident.

The mock drill began with an accident as the driver of a vehicle became distracted and collided with the bus immediately in front of it. The NIU police were the first to arrive on the scene and attended to the injured parties. Of the 11 fire departments involved in the exercise, the DeKalb Fire Department arrived and provided support to the injured victims.

“We do this not as a way of scaring people, but as a way of educating,” Smith said.

The simulation allows various departments to communicate with each other more effectively. Emergency response teams are evaluated to see what worked and how to become better prepared in the future.

In the event an actual crisis were to occur, the agencies involved want to be sure that everyone is working together and on the same page. This exercise is meant to provide emergency responders an opportunity to ensure situations do not escalate.

“It seems like they all are working together,” said Brooke Lawrence, sophomore athletic training major, who was part of the coordinated response. “I will probably will never text and drive again.”

Local boy scouts, NIU students and members of the community were cast as victims, witnesses and observers to the incident. Darren Mitchell, NIU deputy chief of police, thanked everyone for their participation and spreading the word about the dangers present while driving.