ETX agencies complete emergency drills - KSLA News 12 Shreveport, Louisiana News Weather & Sports

ETX agencies complete emergency drills

Dramatization Dramatization

To better prepare themselves if a tornado or disaster strikes East Texas, several agencies practiced full scale drills in Smith County.

From tornado search and rescue exercises to decontamination drills, they spent hours working together to train and evaluate their work.

"We are EMPG funded, which means Emergency Management Performance Grant funded, and we are required by the state to host these drills," said Mary Thompson with the Smith County Fire Marshal's office.

Multiple agencies participated in four scenarios: the touchdown of a tornado in a residential neighborhood, the rescue of two men trapped in a trench, a downed cargo plane, and an overturned vehicle leaking a chemical which required the decontamination unit.

Exercises that seem a little more real following the recent tragedies in Texas.

"It's very important because you never know when Smith County is going to get hit like Granbury or like Cleburne and prayers go out to those people and those families," Thompson said.

To help with these drills is a brand new piece of equipment, which is now the heart of incident command.

Firefighters said during the 2011 wildfire season, there was an outpour of support from Smith County residents. A total of $41,000 was donated and put into a wildfire account. That money along with a few other donations, purchased a mobile command center.

"We didn't have anything like this or were capable of doing this kind of drill or anything; we were trying to run everything out of the back of a pickup truck," said Eric Lowry with Dixie Fire Department.

This center is a huge upgrade and although it has only been used for a few drills, they say it is operational and ready to go if ever need for a real disaster.

The agencies graded themselves on how successful Saturday's drill was and sent that information to the Texas Division of Emergency Management in Austin.

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