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This is only a drill: Geneva District 304 sets full-scale emergency training

GENEVA –  An enormous emergency drill involving hundreds of people and coordination of several agencies will be held from noon to about 3:30 p.m. Friday at Geneva Middle School South, officials said.

Neighbors of the school and passers-by should know when they hear simulated noise, such as an explosion, or see smoke and emergency vehicles at the site, that a drill is scheduled for that time, officials said.

Geneva School District 304 spokeswoman Kelley Munch and emergency management coordinator Amy Campbell said the drill is funded by a $375,000 federal Readiness and Emergency Management for Schools grant. It has taken about 2 ∏ years to coordinate and organize, and has no connection to the Sandy Hook school shooting in December or the Boston bombing last week. 

No details will be released about the drill’s specific scenario until it happens, they said, so emergency responders can face conditions as close to an actual event as possible. 

Other than the school district, other agencies involved are the Geneva police and fire departments, Geneva Park District, Kane County Emergency Management, Elburn and Countryside Fire Protection District, First Baptist Church of Geneva, Mid-Valley Special Education Cooperative, Tri-Com Emergency Dispatch and Delnor Hospital.

“Geneva school district is farther ahead of the game than a lot of school districts,” Geneva Police Cmdr. Julie Nash said. 

Campbell said no students will be involved in the drill, as they will be gone from the school for early release.

Hundreds of school staff will be made to look like they have been hurt in a process called moulage, to be applied by Delnor Hospital employees, they said. Those with simulated injuries will be transported to Delnor as part of the drill.

Nash said additional police and fire personnel will be on duty in case an actual emergency occurs during the drill.

“We want this to be as realistic as possible,” Nash said. “But at the same time, we can’t allow the city to run amok … we will continue to have normal patrol staff.”

Nash said the district already does training with officers in “active shooter” events. Officials do not publicize these training events because they do not want to give up strategies in case there is an actual incident, Nash said.

Officials will evaluate the agencies’ responses to the drill.

Campbell said Charles “Chic” Williams, a longtime educator at Geneva High School who died this week was the “point person” for the grant and participated in a lot of the planning and coordinating among local agencies. 

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