Mock tornadoes test emergency workers

By Augie Frost Modified: May 7, 2008 at 4:07 pm •  Published: May 1, 2008
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Bodies lay everywhere bloodied and bruised. They were under pieces of wooden debris, in wind-tossed cars and in the middle of the street.

Some moved, slightly. Some bellowed in pain. Others lay motionless, dead. Firefighters rushed to those most in need of help, like Brian Wilson, who lay on his stomach with a piece of glass the size of a compact disc sticking out of his back.

"Where are you hurt?” fire Maj. Tim Bennett asked Wilson. "Can you walk?”

Truth is, Wilson was not hurt and could walk, but he said he couldn't move. He, like dozens of others, was pretending to be injured during a training session Wednesday.

How the exercise was set up
A series of mock tornadoes had torn through the region, leaving behind a field of overturned cars and debris at the Oklahoma City police and fire training center. Shortly after 9 a.m., police and fire units were arriving on the scene to render aid.

"This full-scale exercise is to test our first responders and especially our incident command system,” said Sgt. Frank Barnes, the police liaison to the Oklahoma City office of emergency management.

Debris was strategically placed to simulate how difficult it can be to get to victims. Wilson, an Oklahoma City firefighter, was put on a stretcher and carried more than 100 yards to a triage area where paramedics were categorizing and treating victims by the severity of their supposed injuries.

By 10 a.m., animal welfare workers were on the scene corralling stuffed animals, which stood in for household pets that would turn stray during a tornado or similar disaster.

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Oklahoma City firefighters help a mock tornado victim, portrayed by firefighter Brian Wilson, during a regional disaster exercise Wednesday. BY PAUL B. SOUTHERLAND, THE OKLAHOMAN

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