It was only a test, but emergency sirens were sounded Monday at Naval Station Great Lakes in North Chicago.
About 20 firefighters from a half dozen departments responded for a simulated emergency related to a hazardous material when a clerk in the Navy base's mail room reported a mysterious white powder in a package, according to a description of the training exercise.
"It was a simulated ricin attack," said John Sheppard, public affairs officer for the Navy base.
The firefighters who responded are part of the Lake and McHenry County Special Response Team, which trains first responders in hazardous materials, technical rescues, water rescue and recovery, wildfire suppression and mechanics.
Sheppard said officials in neighboring North Chicago and Lake Bluff were warned ahead of time that the sirens would go off.
"We wanted to make sure they worked," he said.
The exercise was part of the Navy's nationwide "Exercise Solid Curtain-Citadel Shield 2016."
Sheppard said there were about 300 field-training exercise events on and off Navy sites across the country. The scenarios allow the Navy to call in staff and civilian first responders to help in case of attacks on military facilities or soft targets in neighboring communities.
Monday's drill was held in a command staff office building near Buckley and Green Bay roads in North Chicago.
"It was a good exercise. Any time we can get together with our local fire departments only good can come from it," Sheppard said. "The more we work together as a team the better we will be when we have to respond to a real emergency."