From left to right, Clerk John Altar and Trustee Patricia Higginson review the joint training goals with Fire Lieutenant Jason Yerkovich and Police Sergeant Daniel Matuszak.

What could have been considered a routine demolition for an abandoned property in Bridgeview turned into an invaluable opportunity for the Bridgeview Police and Fire Departments. On Friday, November 10th the Bridgeview Police Department and Bridgeview FireDepartment held a joint training operation at a Bridgeview home scheduled to be demolished near 74th Street and Harlem Avenue. The operation was a direct result of Mayor Landek approaching Bridgeview Police Chief Mancha and Fire Chief Grzadziel with an opportunity to utilize the building for training before its scheduled demolition date. Recognizing the importance of training in real world settings, both Chief Mancha and Chief Grzadziel immediately accepted the opportunity and began planning with their training staff.

The culmination of their planning would result in the joint training operation on Friday, November 10th when a team of Bridgeview Police officers and Firefighters would be executing a search warrant on a property where the team could expect to encounter drugs, a cache of weapons, and multiple suspects. In executing the search warrant, the complex challenges the team faced were immediately realized as they began searching the cluttered, barricade-ridden home and confronted non-armed and armed suspects. The simulation would further spiral into a hostage situation, leaving the team to tackle a whole new set of difficult decisions.

While the simulation provided valuable training on decision-making and teamwork for the officers on site, the main focus of the training was communication. Clear communication between the unified command as well as the teams on site is critical for putting into play the roles and responsibilities each individual Police Officer and Firefighter has during hostile incidents. “This training has better prepared us to function together to accomplish the same end result, saving lives. Identifying our strengths and weaknesses in these types of scenarios works to improve our focus in future collaborative training and streamline our evolving operational guidelines,” explained Fire Chief Grzadziel.

While the Bridgeview Police and Fire Department regularly hold training sessions within their department, inter-departmental training is a challenge. Sites that can host and accommodate scenarios where police and fire departments can be involved are difficult to come by. “We are always working to improve our public safety model, and any training opportunity that can bring the Fire Department and Police Department together to operate as asingle unit is invaluable to Bridgeview as a whole,” offered police Chief Mancha.

Mayor Steven Landek, Clerk John Altar, and Trustees Patricia Higginson and Kalid Baste observed the training in order to better understand the on-site needs to support future joint training efforts between the Fire and Police Departments. “Bridgeview has been fortunate to not have been subjected to the level of violence seen in this scenario, but it is important our Police Officers and Firefighters are ready to handle it,” said Trustee Higginson. After going through the operation, the departments debriefed and discussed how to improve their responses. The hours-long training left the Police and Fire Departments better prepared to serve the residents of Bridgeview.