There are three important steps Evanstonians need to think about when planning for an emergency like what happened in Highland Park on July 4, said Deputy Chief Kim Kull, head of emergency management planning at the Evanston Fire Department:

“Educate yourself about your surroundings, develop a plan in case you need to escape, and be ready to act.” 

Central Street less than an hour before Evanston’s 2022 Fourth of July parade that never happened. Credit: Bob Seidenberg

Kull emphasized how important it is for community members to increase their emergency readiness and develop a plan. There are many free and public resources available to help individuals increase their level of readiness. 

The RoundTable spoke to interim Chief of Police Richard Eddington, Commander Ryan Glew, Evanston Fire Chief Paul Polep and Kull to discuss Evanston’s readiness in the event of an emergency. Both departments already train individually and jointly for different scenarios.

Sometime during the next year, there will be an official report evaluating the responses to the Highland Park shooting, including a section on lessons learned.

“It is too soon to address any of that now,” Eddington said. 

“We are constantly re-evaluating our procedures based on changes to industry standards, input received from the Department of Homeland Security and changes in equipment,” Polep said. 

An hour after the shooting, Eddington and Polep, Evanston Mayor Daniel Biss, interim City Manager Kelley A. Gandurski, Director of Public Works Dave Stonebeck and Director of Parks, Recreation and Community Services Audrey Thompson “had met and decided to cancel the parade, gather and secure the fireworks, and close the beaches in the interest of public safety. The gunman was still at large and we didn’t know what we didn’t know,” said Eddington.

Polep authorized Marine 21 to patrol Evanston’s portion of Lake Michigan manned with two firefighter/rescue swimmers.

Glew said it was fortunate that many officers had previously been assigned to parade duty. They were redeployed to help gather and secure the fireworks that were spread out along the beachfront, and serve as a visible public presence throughout the city. 

As for what the Evanston police and fire will do differently before next year’s parade, no one would say.

“I’m not comfortable talking about that,” Polep said. “Certain procedures need to remain confidential.” 

Wendi Kromash is curious about everything and will write about anything. She tends to focus on one-on-one interviews with community leaders, recaps and reviews of cultural events, feature stories about...