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As tornados are reaching and to some extent occuring more often on the northeast coast (New York,New Jersey, Connecticut, Penn.) area mainly due to drastic weather changes, are we prepared with resources and the training it takes to deal with a multiple touch down and the catastrophic results that come with them? And what training would we need or should we begin to get, to deal with it? The tragic events that have just occured mid west brings this to mind. Where do we stand? And does the frequency dictate the direction we should go?

Stay Safe !! Dennis

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Hey Dennis,
We are definitely behind the eight-ball in the North East! Historically, we haven't had to deal with a lot of disasters like tornadoes, earthquakes, etc. that make a huge impact so I think Emergency Planners and Fire Chiefs see that as "fluff". Unfortunately, when it does happen (and it will) folks are going to call us and expect us to know how to mitigate the problems. We are rolling the dice. On top of all the other training we do (EMS, Haz Mat, Confined Space, blah, blah,blah) now we have to add USAR!?! This is where regionalization can help. Not every town needs to have a full on USAR team, but if regionally we can have resources and trained personnel at least we'd have a system for dealing with problems until the "Big Dogs" show up. The stuff I think we should be at least versed in include, building triage, swift water rescue, GPS mapping and (as much as I hate to say it) NIMS. Good topic for discussion. Stay safe.
Chris
Hey Chris,

You put a smile on my face ! The Key word you stated is regionalization and I am a big proponent of this and in todays fire service we can't do it all by ourselves. If we train in USAR on a regional bases we would not need the Big Dogs as you state because if the event is large enough you will need a lot more. If we can become proficient on a local level in USAR we would have mini USAR teams and spread over a larger area. In my county (Monmouth County NJ) my department belongs to the Bayshore Fire Chiefs Association made up of 14 + Depts. Openmindedly what a team you could create! Its just a matter of time before mother nature drops one on us. I will be looking up the training makeup for USAR to see what it takes to get a small team off the ground. Thanks for the reply !

STAFE SAFE !! Dennis
Hello Dennis,
As a chief from tornado alley, USAR would be nice if available, the problem is that regardless of the equipment available, in the first hour or so everything will have to carried in by hand! In 1997 we have an F4 cut a path a mile wide and 8 miles long through our community. In 1999 an F3 clean out what had been rebuilt from the 97 storm. Basically you will need light wieght equipment, lots of chain saws. extra chains, generators and lights and tools to pry with. In the 97 storm, most of our apparatus was 1/3 of a mile to a 1/4 mile from the distruction due to power poles and trees down.

Be prepared to be self sustaining for at least an hour or two due to a large strom will also strike your mutual aid communities so help will be greatly delayed. The first ambulance, in the 97 incident, did not arrive until 55 minutes after touch down and it traveled 43 miles. We were only 3 miles from the capitol city of Little Rock, but the path of the storm was 26 miles long and 9 communites were hit. we were lucky as alot of our firefighters were trapped in their nieghborhoods and could render aid immediately.

We had a path that was 8 square miles, 488 buildings distroyed, 13 killed and 137 injured. We have an updated computer printout of our entire protection district showing every building and address. This enabled us to conduct a survey within 72 hours with a accurate count of damage. We set up our ICS system and it worked without any major problems for 15 days. The main thing to remember is that every organization will come to lend a hand. Determine what you need and ONLY accept those needs. you will need lots of gloves, water, food, sleeping and shower facitities. Do not accept clothing until day 3 as the people have no where to keep them dry or a place to store them. Do not wait for the state government to act, you will still be waiting. Our logistics officer contacted our local Air force Base Commander and the local civil engineers set up 2 shower stations and tent cities to sleep 80 to 100 people within 36 hours.

Contact your local cell phone company. They can provide you with cell phones and a COW (communications on wheels) that only the cell phone they give you will work off the cow. This was a god send. We were provided 30 cell phones. rapid chargers and exteded life batteries. Be prepared for major apparatus damage. Driving down debris roadways to fight a fire will not only give you flats, but heavy equipment may collaspe small colverts and you cannot see them in the dark. Make maps of your area as utility crews from out of state will have no idea of where to go. Believe me, a good report with the utility people, they can get your fire department power to your station when no one else for a mile has power.

FEMA will be there in about 3 days post touchdown. It must be stressed that FEMA is not a response ageny but a recovery agency! Keep accurate records of all staffing hours, equipment lost or damaged, total hours apparatus was operated, ect. If a federal decoration is declared, all these cost can be recovered.

Hope this helps,
BOB
Hello Chief,

Thanks very much for the reply !! There is no better information than that of real life experience and you have provided all I was looking for. It seams each year the tornados are getting closer and closer to the east coast and in the area I live and respond in. Not knowing what to expect you have provided me with a lifes experience and a basic insite of what to expect. I can preplan knowing it will not be easy and mainly ground work and a tremendous amount of hard labor and hand work for an extended period of time with tools we do not have mass amounts of. Your reply is invaluable !!! Hoping all stays quiet in tornado alley!

STAY SAFE !! Dennis

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