Disaster response expo held in Durant

By: Rick Springer Email
By: Rick Springer Email

DURANT, OK - At least three people were killed in today's outbreak but experts say many more were saved because they took severe weather precautions. They also credit communication between emergency officials for saving lives. Today, emergency responders from all over Oklahoma got a firsthand look at the resources they can use when disaster strikes.

It was nearly a year ago that an EF3 tornado leveled the town of Tushka. Crews from across the state worked together to rescue residents caught in the aftermath. And secure the safety of the town.

"In the event of an emergency such as last year with the rash of tornadoes that did occur, a lot of people were not aware of the resources that were available to them," said Battalion Chief Steve Stafford, Durant Fire Department.

Regional Medical Response System Region 5 coordinated the response for the Tushka tornado and other disasters in Southern Oklahoma. Friday, crews from across the area brought their equipment to Durant for the first ever Region 5 Disaster Preparedness Expo.

"Today we've gotten together just to show off all of our things that we would deploy during any type of disaster in region five," said Kari Etchison, Region 5 Medical Emergency Response Center Coordinator.

There were around 30 emergency trailers. Some from as far away as Oklahoma city. From search and rescue, to HAZMAT, to bomb squads, the idea was to let each department know exactly what resources they can call upon when a problem becomes to big for them to handle alone.

"Just to interact with them and kind of get an Idea of the kind and feedback of training they have and some of the equipment they have is a great asset," Stafford said.

Anyone who's ever looked for a job understands the importance of networking, but for emergency responders the stakes are a little higher because having a good network in place can be the difference between life and death.

"Timing is really critical during a disaster and if you don't know who your partners are and you don't know who to call that could be the difference between a life and death situation so it's so important to know your partners," Etchison said.

And with tornado season already upon us the information shared at today's expo could be life-saving in the coming months.

"There's so many different working parts whether it be technical rescue or medical or vaccines or anything we need," said Etchison. "We have those things but if we don't know about it then we can't use it."

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