HIGHLAND PARK, Ill. (WLS) -- Already at the Highland Park Fourth of July parade on July 4, 2022, the city's Community Emergency Response Team, known as CERT, went running toward the danger when gunshots rang out.
At first there was confusion, then panic, then attempts to survive.
"During these events, it was easy for us to go run towards danger," said Highland Park Police Sgt. Sean Curran, who is also the CERT supervisor. "The members of the Highland Park CERT team, they ran towards danger. They didn't have vests, they didn't have guns, they didn't have rifles. In high stress situations, what we're taught is you're gonna revert to your highest form of training. And without hesitation members of the Highland Park Police Department, and Highland Park Highland Park CERT took immediate action, and I'm super proud of the department, and our CERT team."
"People were running away and it's like I was just like, I didn't feel that way. I'm like, I'm running in I'm running toward the situation and I just did that automatically," said Earl Slavin, CERT member.
The mass shooting, which killed seven people and injured more than 50, shattered the illusion of safety in the Highland Park community, something the team members feel acutely.
"I think that a lot of us living in Highland Park felt we lived in a little cocoon of protectiveness. That was shattered for me, particularly for my grandkids," said Nancy McEntee, CERT member.
"You know, one person was able to do a whole lot of damage. But what amazes me is how many more people were able to really make this a positive place. There was countless number of people that ran towards and against the crowd. There was a lot of people that stepped up and did whatever they can without asking a question or even a name. And, you know, it's amazing how much positivity can exist and how much it can persevere in the light of negativity," said Shane Selig, CERT member.