Emergency training covers earthquakes as well

By Kelsey Gibbs | kgibbs@wcia.com

Published 06/17 2014 05:50PM

Updated 06/17 2014 06:31PM

SPRINGFIELD -- It's an emergency many don't think about, but first responders are ready for it. WCIA-3's Kelsey Gibbs has more.

Believe it or not, Tuesday, they trained for earthquakes. Nearly 20 response teams were at the state fairgrounds. They were instructed on everything from disaster response times to mission and safety procedures.

This isn't Mike Abbott's first Disaster Training Exercise Seminar, but he keeps coming back to make sure he and his fellow firefighters are ready for anything; even an earthquake.

"We prepare ourselves for anything that might come along. Obviously, we're not training day-in and day-out for an earthquake, but we do train to deal with gas leaks, emergency medical calls, structure fires."

Illinois and several other surrounding states have joined federal agencies and volunteer organizations in a large-scale earthquake exercise.

"We want them to come through this because we don't want silence of response going into impacted areas. We want a unified effort, a joint effort. That's why you see a lot of your uniform folks that are helping us."

It's an exercise IEMA Operations Chief Trent Thompson says is needed.

"Really, it only takes about an hour for a team of about 75 to 100 to go through. In that hour, they're getting all the preparation documentation, all the facts, everything they need to be able to move forward and go into the area that they're going to be doing their mission."

Dawson Fire Chief Mike Abbott agrees saying exercises like this helped prepare him for one of the worst disasters ever.

"Several years ago, when we had Hurricane Katrina happen, there was a rush to get fire departments to respond down to that area because of the loss of infrastructure down there."

He says he believes this drill will help if a real disaster hits the state.

"What I take away is still the time constraints that it takes to move through this process. Hopefully, with the drill that they done today, they can figure out ways to maybe crunch it down a little bit more."

The exercise is one of the largest Homeland Security or Emergency Management exercises ever conducted. It wraps up Friday.

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