Chicago Office of Emergency Management and Communications

Active Shooter Drill At Chicago’s Wrigley Field Thursday

While looking for the latest on Chicago’s debt crisis from Fran Spielman (Chicago Sun-Times), I spotted this on the newspaper’s website Wednesday afternoon:

One week after a lone gunman opened fire on police officers securing a Black Lives Matter protest in Dallas, emergency responders in Chicago will simulate an “active shooter” situation at Wrigley Field.

The emergency preparedness drill involving “simulated ammunition and flashbangs” will be held between 7 a.m. and 2 p.m. Thursday, prompting street closings around the stadium…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Spielman reported Waveland Avenue, from Clinton to Kenmore, will be closed to both vehicle/pedestrian traffic while the exercise takes place. The drill will involve the Chicago Fire Department, Chicago Police Department, and the city’s Office of Emergency Management and Communications (OEMC).

You can read the Sun-Times piece here for more information.

More on Chicago’s mounting financial woes tomorrow…

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (


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Chicago May Update Emergency Plan After Boston Attack

Here’s something out of City Hall that all Chicagoans can get behind. From Craig Dellimore on the CBS Chicago website last week:

Mayor Emanuel says Chicago may revise its emergency medical plans in light of Boston’s response to the Boston Marathon bombings a week ago, reports WBBM Political Editor Craig Dellimore.

Mayor Emanuel says special circumstances not withstanding, Boston showed it was well-prepared to face a crisis when those bombs went off.

“Now not every time are you going to have an incident where you have medical care on-site because they had a marathon they had it on-site. That clearly saved lives. But having a well-rehearsed, well-planned, well thought out medical emergency response, was crucial in saving lives. We have a very good plan. We did it for NATO exercise. I have asked everybody to go back and look at it,” said Emanuel.

And he says after Boston authorities review their response, Chicago will see about updating its emergency plan.

I’ve never seen the City of Chicago’s “official” emergency preparedness plan. Even when I worked in the public safety field. Last I heard, the plan was closely-guarded. Leah Samuel wrote in The Chicago Reporter website back on September 12, 2007:

Although the federal government recommends that cities plan their responses to terrorism with inclusiveness and openness, Chicago’s emergency preparedness plan is known only to a few in city government, The Chicago Reporter has found.

Among those who haven’t been shown the plan are the city’s aldermen, firefighters and police officers.

“We do not discuss the particulars of our plan so as not to allow those who would harm us an additional way to create disorder,” Cortez Trotter, executive director of the Office of Emergency Communications, or 911 Center, said in a written statement. “Full disclosure of the plan might assist those who would thwart evacuation and rescue procedures.”

Samuel added later in the piece:

“We don’t want anyone to see it,” said Larry Langford, public information officer for the Office of Emergency Communications. He called the secrecy “an unfortunate by-product” of emergency planning: “You want to reassure everyone, but you don’t want to give the plan away.”

Here’s hoping more than just “a few in city government” are familiar with the City’s emergency preparedness plan in 2013.

Or else Chicago residents could really be screwed in a major crisis.

By Christopher E. Hill, Editor
Survival And Prosperity (


Dellimore, Craig. “Chicago May Update Emergency Plans In Wake Of Boston Terror Attack.” CBS Chicago. 22 Apr. 2013. ( 1 May 2013.

Samuel, Leah. “Emergency Plan Eludes City Officials.” The Chicago Reporter. 12 Sep. 2007. ( 1 May 2013.


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Chicago 911 Call Center Upgrade Problems?

I hope I don’t have to dial 9-1-1 anytime soon here in Chicago.

Fran Spielman wrote on the Chicago Sun-Times website last night:

The operations floor at Chicago’s 911 center is getting a $31 million upgrade stalled by contract irregularities, but it’s turning into a nightmare that threatens to slow response times to 911 calls, employees contend.

Dispatchers and call takers describe a host of problems, ranging from dropped 911 calls and a new answering system that demands more manpower to computers that no longer allow call takers to monitor radio communications at fire scenes.

They also complain about a new floor plan that moved fire and EMS dispatchers assigned to handle 911 calls from Chicago’s North Side away from call takers who do the same, preventing the two groups from communicating in a way that could speed response times.

Not good- if the above is true. Having worked on a few municipal technology projects myself back in the day, Murphy’s Law (“If anything can go wrong, it will”) was a constant here.

But public safety wasn’t at stake when the glitches and SNAFUs occurred.

Spielman, the Sun-Times’ City Hall reporter, spoke to an anonymous dispatcher who claimed there was an incident in the call center just last Wednesday which involved 30 dropped calls between 7 AM and 2 PM. From the piece:

“The fire call taker would hear a beep in their headset. They’d start to talk. And the call would drop,” the dispatcher said. “They had a fire at 5613 W. Chicago at 12:34 p.m. and couldn’t get more information on it. They got the initial call and, when a bunch of people started calling, the calls dropped.”

Gary Schenkel, the executive director of the city’s Office of Emergency Management and Communications, was quoted in the article as saying:

We have not had any dropped calls. That’s why we’re very cautious about the progress. We want to make sure it’s absolutely, 100 percent functional before we move to each sequence. We test for two weeks before we move on and incorporate the next new piece of technology. That’s why the first phase will take much longer than the subsequent six phases. My quote to AT&T is they won’t put in a system that is not 100 percent accurate before installation.

I hope this is the case. But from reading the above, someone sounds like they’re not telling the truth. Which kind of concerns me, considering we’re talking about Chicago residents’ lives here possibly.

Here’s hoping the rest of the upgrade goes smoothly.


Spielman, Fran. “Alarm over Chicago’s 911 call center changes.” Chicago Sun-Times. 11 Nov. 2012. ( 12 Nov. 2012.


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Chicago Prepares For Superstorm Sandy

It looks like my backed-up plumbing won’t be the only “effect” of the now “Superstorm” Sandy here in Chicago.

The National Weather Service has issued a lakeshore flood warning for the Chicago area that began at 1 AM this morning and will remain in effect until 4 PM Wednesday.

According to Chicago’s Office of Emergency Management and Communications, winds up to 60 MPH could and waves as high as 25 feet are expected to impact the city’s lakeshore and beyond.

The National Weather Service is saying that waves are already reaching 17 to 20 feet high offshore- and could increase over the next 5 or 6 hours.

According to the Chicago Tribune website this morning:

Chicago Park District officials closed the lakefront trail from North Avenue to Ohio Street Monday night and have also been securing beaches. The CTA is prepared to reroute buses as necessary, depending on the waves, [OEMC Executive Director Gary] Schenkel said.

And from the Chicago Sun-Times:

Amtrak service has been suspended from Boston south to Raleigh, North Carolina, and from the East Coast to Chicago. Both O’Hare and Midway Airports reported normal operating conditions Tuesday morning, without any significant delays. At O’Hare, some 270 flights to and from the East Coast had been cancelled as of 7:30 a.m., while 70 flights were cancelled at Midway.

As of now, there are no plans to close Lake Shore Drive.

Here on the Northwest Side, I’m more concerned about losing power from the high winds- and have prepared accordingly.

And as I look outside (10:27 AM Chicago time) the wind gusts seem to be picking up.

Stay safe Chicago!


“People urged to stay clear of lakefront as Sandy makes waves here.” Chicago Tribune. 30 Oct. 2012. (,0,2187506.story). 30 Oct. 2012.

“Storm Sandy winds arrive in Chicago.” Chicago Sun-Times. 30 Oct. 2012. ( 30 Oct. 2012.


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