HOMEWOOD | There was a terrible scene Wednesday morning in and around Room 10 of Millennium Middle School.
In the hallway were three "fatalities," high school students lying face-down around a mock pipe bomb on the tile floor. Their "killer," played by a Homewood police officer, was on his back just inside the room.
Fortunately, it was all part of a critical incident drill hosted by the Homewood Police Department and Millennium and John Hart Junior High School. Aberdeen Street, between Hickory Road and 183rd Street, was closed to traffic and yellow caution tape surrounded the schools.
Flossmoor, Glenwood, East Hazel Crest and Thornton police also participated in the event. None were aware of the details of the drill in an effort to make it as realistic as possible. Homewood fire officers and emergency medical personnel treated actors — all high school students and faculty or police — in a makeshift triage center on a driveway across Aberdeen Street from Millennium school.
"We kind of condensed everybody into fewer vehicles, which is not what would happen in a real case," Homewood Deputy Chief Denise McGrath said. "We've got them grouped in three or four officers to work together."
Volunteers even played the roles of members of the media, snapping photos outside the building.
"We wanted to throw as many things at them as we could so that if these things happen in a real incident the officers have some frame of reference for the worst-case scenario," McGrath said. "I think it went fairly well."
The act involved two offenders, both played by police officers, who carried handguns and hid six "bombs" throughout the schools. The drill began just after 9 a.m. when three students ran out of the building calling for help. The sound of gunshots soon echoed through the neighborhood.
Fire alarms blared and lights flashed in the school. McGrath said it was a good test of the communication skills of officers inside.
Officers entered the schools in teams, systematically moving through hallways and from room to room. Students with injuries were individually escorted out first and sent to the triage area. Those who were unharmed came out in groups with their hands over their heads.
McGrath said the drill seemed to be a success when it finished just before 11 a.m.