Dayton Street was turned into a command center Thursday morning, as Pioneer Center for Human Services ran a disaster preparedness drill to test their emergency response plans and make sure clients and staff are prepared for the worst. The drill involved Pioneer Center clients, staff and local police and firefighters. Pioneer Center also partnered with Centegra Health System and PACE Suburban Bus Services for medical assistance and transportation.
“It’s great for an organization to do disaster drills. Pioneer Center did a great job this morning – everything went really smooth. They came out of the building quickly and focused,” stated McHenry Township Fire Protection District Battalion Chief Krueger.
As a part of the drill, at 10:30 am, fire alarms sounded in the Pioneer East building after a hypothetical bomb exploded causing a fire and initiating a building-wide evacuation. Concerned about the fire spreading and additional explosions, the two other Dayton Street buildings, Pioneer Central and Pioneer West, were evacuated as well. Clients, with the assistance of staff, were directed across the street where Chas. Herdrich & Son and other local businesses granted Pioneer Center the use of their parking lots as rendezvous points.
Sandra Salgado, Director of Human Resources, who coordinated the drill, said “The drill went great today. We set aside 40 minutes from beginning to end for the drill – we finished in 6 minutes and 54 seconds.”
The goal of the drill is designed to ensure Pioneer Center clients and staff are prepared should disaster strike. It also helps first responders and local hospitals determine the best ways to keep people safe.
“These drills are important. Practicing helps people prepare for a disaster, if it should happen,” commented one of the first responders, Officer Rob Beaudion of the City of McHenry Police Department, “Pioneer Center’s clients and staff did a great job.”
While Pioneer Center conducts annual emergency preparedness drills, including fire and tornado drills, Thursday’s drill went above and beyond Illinois Department of Human Services guidelines. This was the first time clients were directed off Pioneer Center property.
“Thank you to everyone for a successful disaster drill,” concluded Patrick Maynard, President and CEO of Pioneer Center, “We dodged thunderstorms and rain drops to have our first-ever complete evacuation drill – and completed it with minimal accidents or mishaps. While this sort of event causes disruptions and stress for some, it also is a critical practice step for us to understand the challenges and ways to effectively handle a calamity event that could happen someday.”