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Illinois first responders gather in Springfield, focus on preventing violence in school

SPRINGFIELD (Illinois News Network) — About 1,000 emergency response crews from around Illinois are spending time this week in Springfield hearing about lessons learned from recent shootings, both deadly and narrowly averted.

The 2018 Training Summit event sponsored by the Illinois Emergency Management Agency was free for attendees with sessions on a variety of issues. Vendors of various services for emergency managers were also on hand showing off services and goods.

Caleb Cage, chief of the Division of Emergency Management in Nevada, brought with him to the Illinois conference lessons from last October’s deadly shooting on the Las Vegas Strip that claimed more than 50 lives with scores more injured.

“How do we look at this instead of just looking at things as just a risk-based approach to dealing with emergencies and disasters and instead say how do we recover a bit more quickly and better from these in the future,” Cage said.

He said local level emergency responders being well organized and collaborative with state and federal agencies is a must.

Mike Chamness, chairman of the Illinois Terrorism Task Force, said attendees also will hear about the task force’s proposals to help address school shootings. He’s looking for feedback.

“Not only to share that information but to see if the people attending this sumit, a thousand people representing emergency management, law enforcement, the fire service, public health, if they have something to add,” Chamness said.

Chamness said Mark Dallas, a school resource officer in the Dixon, Illinois, who averted a school shooting there, will share his story with attendees Thursday.

“School resource officers are in the school every day developing relationships with students that I think quite often pay off in avoiding situations that turn into school violence,” Chamness said.

Cage said Nevada officials are looking at mass shootings at schools with a holistic approach.

“It’s everything from making sure that you have the right infrastructure in place to making sure that you’re taking a really individual based approach to it and you’re looking at each individual student and each individual challenge for what it is and what it may not be,” Cage said. “You’re looking at behavioral programs. You’re looking at getting the community involved.”

He said Nevada, like many other states including Illinois, continues to work on the issue.

The Illinois summit goes through Thursday.