Illinois first responders conduct training exercise

The Illinois National Guard conducted an active shooter exercise on Wednesday to strengthen communication and cooperation between first responder agencies during future emergency scenarios.

The emergency exercise included first responders from the Sangamon County Office of Emergency Management, the Sangamon County Sheriff's Department, the Springfield Fire Department, the Springfield Police Department and other civilian partners.

"This is an opportunity for multiple organizations to ensure we have rehearsed crisis response protocols and know our role as an employee, leader, installation manager and first responder liaison," Capt. Jacob Beard, the provost marshal for the Illinois National Guard, said. "You don't want to meet strangers during a time of need. This is why we do these events."

The exercise concentrated on local first responders assessing Illinois National Guard Facilities and cooperating with other local law enforcement, emergency management and fire services.

"The Illinois National Guard has a long history of cooperation and exercises with our first responder community," Brig. Gen. Richard Hayes, the assistant adjutant general of the Illinois National Guard, said. "These training events focused on integrating the military within the mutual aid framework and are different because we are the potential victims of a domestic terrorism event. The ancillary benefit enables the first responder community an opportunity to hone their skills."

The Illinois National Guard seeks to provide trained and disciplined forces for domestic emergencies or as otherwise provided by state law.