Local fire and police departments received the Mutual Aid Box Alarm System Exercise Sub Grant earlier this year that helped pay for an important drill Sunday, October 18. They say they're more prepared than ever before... for a tornado.
The scene was set and the alarms sounded. A mock tornado was said to have hit the Rockford area destroying 300 homes.
Win-Bur-Sew Fire Chief, Robert Martin, stated, "Today we are working with multiple agencies to do an exercise or drill for tornado response."
Departments from all over Winnebago and Boone counties met to make a plan of action for when or if another tornado hits our area.
This plan led to them receiving a grant for natural disaster training. In this weekend's scenario... a mock tornado jumps from the Village of Winnebago to Rockford.
Chris Scott, Captain for the Rockford Fire Department, is one of the plans creators. He tells us the first steps responders need to make.
Scott told us, "The house search, collecting information just like if this was Joplin or if it was Fairdale where we had total devastation. You have to account for every person in that home or the victims that are hurt."
This is the first time local departments have done this type of large-scale training. Fire chiefs work to make the drill as real as possible. They had boots on the ground-- firefighters searching... plus command staff sending out orders.
Their teamwork gives officials a good idea of what they can do.
Scott says, "Today we know that 3 companies can do a 150 homes for a primary search and secondary search in 3-4 hours."
Departments say being ready for natural disasters can make the difference between life and death of people affected. Area residents took comfort in seeing the fire departments on their streets for the drill.
"The anticipation they were excited that we were coming in and training and being prepared." Says Scott, "So to me if it makes them feel more safe... I know it makes us more effective."
The Exercise Sub Grant received by the local departments totaled nearly 70-thousand dollars.