THE LOOP — As smoke filled the 79th floor of the Aon Center, Chicago firefighters were forced to put on oxygen tanks in order to breathe, while loading bodies onto stretchers.
Luckily, it was just a drill, giving firefighters a chance to combat realistic conditions in a test environment during the high-rise fire and evacuation drill conducted at the Downtown tower Sunday.
More than 160 firefighters participated in the drill, practicing strapping bodies (lifelike dummies) to stretchers, and saving the lives of 20 volunteers stuck on a floor flooded by simulated smoke, said Fire Commissioner Jose Santiago.
Santiago said the scene was meant to simulate a "211" fire, considered the most difficult type of blaze to combat.
The drill also allowed firefighters to test their radio communication system, which now has five channels instead of one. Santiago said the five-channel system will help solve some communication problems.