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Military, civilian crews train together in disaster drills at Camp Blanding

7:28 PM, May 21, 2013   |    comments
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Disaster drills at Camp Blanding train military and civilian crews

STARKE, Fla. -- Local, state and federal agencies train for natural disasters together for the first time. The seven-day training at Camp Blanding is creating an opportunity for these crews to meet and develop strategies before a disaster strikes.

"This could happen any time anywhere in the United States. We all need to be prepared for it," said Scott Chappell, Florida USAR and hazardous materials program coordinator.

For the first time in the state of Florida, military and civilian crews are training together.

"You'll find that cross leveling of best practices, best uses of equipment, different ways of doing. We always learn from our firefighter services, Urban Search and Rescue folks," said Colonel Michael Ladd, U.S. Army Guard.

The National Guard, U.S. Army Guard and local agencies among several other groups are working scenarios with collapsed buildings, trapped victims, and conditions with hazardous materials at Camp Blanding to prepare in the event that a major hurricane or other disaster takes place in Florida.

"For this scenario here is a plane crash. It could be a residential area, it could be a Downtown location, the cause for that really, like I said, could be any town USA," said Colonel Ladd.

Once crews locate the victim, they have to access them and find a way to get them out from underneath the debris without injuring them. The main goal for all of these units is a safe search and rescue.

The trainings are as real as it gets and resonate with pictures coming out of Oklahoma. It's an opportunity local responders like can benefit a great deal from.

"We can't be meeting for the first time on scene. We have to know each other's capabilities and the trust built between those agencies so when we show up, I understand what the National Guard can do, and what resources they can provide to me," said Clay County Emergency Management Services Director John Ward.

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