Emergency Training Against Mother Nature

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It was a drill two and a half years in the making, an orchestrated natural disaster in Woodford County.

“We are in the top counties in the state for the number of tornadoes that have happened and the number of tornadoes per square mile,” said Kent McCanless, Woodford County EMA Director.

First responders from towns all over the county worked together to save 22 volunteer victims from a planned “tornado” event at Eureka College.

It’s skills crews have had to put to the test before.

“The only difference between Washington and Woodford County is seven miles, and that could very easily happen here,” McCanless said.

“We saw things that went great for them, we saw things that did not go great for them,” said Woodford County Sheriff Matt Smith.

Washington’s tornado in 2013 was still in the minds of emergency crews practicing Saturday.

“We realized very quick that when you have a disaster such as that, you’re going to need the help from other agencies and other entities,” said Eureka Mayor, Scott Punke.

The drill had an operations center for experienced emergency responders, but also for those who are training.

“You kind of understand what people are going through in the back of your mind, you you’re like, okay, I know this person is telling the truth,” said ICC Student, Matthew Plack.

All responders say getting out in the field helps make these situations more manageable.

“The more you plan, the more you prepare and the more you get out there, the more of a chance you have to save lives,” McCanless said.

“Those plans need to be on paper, in the book, right here ready to go,” said Sheriff Smith.

The training was evaluated by the Illinois emergency management agency. 

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