CHICAGO (CBS) — Police officers, firefighters, federal agents, and emergency management officials assembled at McCormick Place on Tuesday to review possible scenarios for a terror attack in Chicago, and how to coordinate a response.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel said, while the Joint Counterterrorism Awareness Workshop was planned long ago, the shadow of the Paris terrorist attacks hung over the meetings.

“The vile and vicious attacks of the terrorists are a reminder that our freedoms are fragile,” he said. “I think this is an essential effort to reassure the public we’re on task, doing the work that’s necessary.’

The workshop was co-sponsored by the National Counterterrorism Center, the FBI, and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. More than 200 public safety officials were attending, including dozens of agencies from Chicago. Authorities at the conference will discuss strategies to deal with potential threats.

Police Supt. Garry McCarthy said much has changed since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, with better coordination between first responders. McCarthy was in New York at the time, and said coordination between the police and fire departments was not good, but has improved significantly.

“They’ve come a long way, too, the bad guys. What we have to look at is how do we respond to these incidents versus how we have in the past,” he said.

McCarthy noted the Paris attacks showed hostage-taking has changed, noting the terrorists took hostages, but were killing them immediately.

“So we can’t use those tactics that we’ve used in the past. We’re going to be in a combat situation if these things happen,” he said.

While the Paris attacks have heightened security in all major cities, authorities have said there is no credible threat to Chicago. Law enforcement officials at the workshop made it clear they need to have a plan for when a terrorist attack happens in Chicago – not if, but when.

“It’s going to happen. It’s going to. This is Middle America,” Fire Commissioner Jose Santiago said.