Rantoul hosting exercises for area emergency units

RANTOUL — The village will be teeming with state and area emergency response agencies beginning Thursday and ending Saturday as they participate in a domestic emergency response exercise.

Rantoul Fire Chief Ken Waters said hundreds of emergency personnel will be on hand during all or part of the three days. Among those participating will be the Illinois National Guard.

More than 15 agencies will participate. They will test their abilities through multiple scenarios.

Dubbed Illinois Prairie North 2013, the exercise will run from 8 a.m. Thursday to 4 p.m. Saturday.

It is designed to test civilian and military responses and coordination should incidents occur in the community.

The exercise is full-scale, meaning emergency responders will look and act as if the exercise was a real homeland security/domestic response event.

Two locations will be used in Rantoul — the former Autumn Glen apartment complex in the 1400 block of Hobson Drive and the hangars at the former Chanute Air Force Base.

The exercise is sponsored by the Champaign County Emergency Management Agency and the Illinois National Guard.

One of the training locations will be an apartment building at the Hobson Drive location. A SWAT team will use it to train for a hostage situation, Waters said, and a door to the building will be blown open.

Fire training will also be conducted "where they do concealed confinement," Waters said. Emergency personnel will locate a victim in a collapsed building.

On Sunday, the apartment will be burned.

Sgt. Kassidy Snyder of the National Guard said the Guard's portion of the training will take place Saturday, and will include simulated chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and high yield explosives scenarios and enhanced response force packages.

"Roughly 200 soldiers and airmen will be trying to mitigate the problem," Snyder said.

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