CBRN disaster simulation held in Illinois

More than 200 people from businesses in Cook and Lake counties in Illinois, in addition to state, federal and local jurisdictions, took part in a full-scale disaster exercise on Saturday in Lake Forest.

The annual exercise for the 335th Signal Command, called Exercise Red Dragon 2012, took place at the W.W. Grainger offices. The simulation was meant to test the abilities of the Army Reserve chemical units to respond to chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear incidents. In addition, the drill encouraged communication between medical personnel, first responders, and community and business leaders in Lake and Cook counties, the Chicago Sun Times reports.

"(The event focused) on strengthening the relationships between public and private organizations through hands-on training, as well as exploring ideas to help us work better together," Kent McKenzie, the Lake County Emergency Management Agency Coordinator, said, according to the Chicago Sun Times. "The time to strengthen our partnerships is now, not after the crisis hits."

In addition to the exercise, experts from private and public organizations led discussions on topics connected to catastrophic response and community resiliency.

This was the Lake-Cook Regional Critical Incident Partnership's third year partnering with Grainger and the Army Reserve to host a preparedness summit. The Lake-Cook partnership is a consortium of emergency response agencies and local businesses in the area.

"This exercise will improve their role in providing seamless support to federal, state and local authorities during an emergency response to a large-scale attack or disaster," Brig. Gen. Wayne Brock, III, the deputy commander of the 335th Signal Command and the director of the exercise, said, according to the Chicago Sun Times.