Local emergency responders receive training from Texas A&M

You never know when a disaster could strike near where you live and in our area, a group of emergency responders are making sure they’ll be ready for anything.

Emergency responders including police, CERT and sheriff offices from all around north Iowa are in the process of some specialized training to help them deal with a disaster should it strike.

And to do so they’re calling in help from a group who has first hand experience with disasters like Hurricane Katrina and even the recent mud slide in Washington.

“So many times it takes something bad to happen in order to get things done and to get things improved upon and hopefully this class will help them be better prepared ahead of time,” says Milton Vincent.

Vincent is a training specialist from Texas A&M Extension.

He and his team are in Mason City to help prepare emergency responders in our area to deal with disaster.

They’re training for what’s called critical separation, a search technique used in many different scenarios.

“It’s most commonly used in wilderness searches, if someone is lost out in the wilderness or in the woods, out in the country side,” says Vincent.

The teams spread out and scan the ground to try to recover as many clips as they can.

This exercise is apart of the Texas A&M’s Wide Area Search Management Training.

The techniques being taught today are what the FEMA task force use and what is taught nationwide.

The class was developed after major disasters like Space Shuttle Columbia and Hurricane Katrina.

“Hurricane Katrina was chaos, the shuttle was disorganized and they needed a way of getting everyone on the same page to become more efficient to do the most good for the most people,”

Mason City Police Captain Mike McKelvey is taking part in the training.

“We train here locally but the value in this is you have national instructors come in and they go over stuff so just make sure we’re in compliance or matching kind of what the national standards are,” he says.

One of the reasons the instructors were asked to come to this area was because of the higher-than normal tornado index.

“Mason City and 50 miles around is 265 which is even higher than the state index which means the likely hood of some big bad ugly tornado hitting is very high,” explains Vincent.

And while the hope is that doesn’t happen this team will be prepared if it does.

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