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Minnehaha Co. first responders to prepare for direct tornado hit in July 17 exercise
By Staff reports

July 02. 2013 9:23AM
First responders from public safety organizations in Minnehaha County will be conducting a mock tornado disaster exercise at the FREMAR, LLC (joint venture between Central Farmers Cooperative & ADM) grain handling facility in Lyons, South Dakota on July 17 at 6 p.m.

The mock scenario will include simulated collapsed grain storage bins, victims entrapped in grain, victims in confined space, water rescue with a submerged vehicle, emergency medical triage with air transport, a simulated active structure fire and incident command operations.

Minnehaha County fire departments, Minnehaha County Emergency Management (Dive Team & Rescue Squad), ambulance services in the county, the Minnehaha County Sheriff’s Office and Metro Communications each year host a countywide training to practice large scale emergency response operations.

Organizers of this year’s training exercise are focusing on a direct tornado hit due in light of the violent severe weather this spring in the south. “We need to evaluate our readiness to effectively respond to a major weather event similar to Moore, Oklahoma’s EF5 tornado. Not since “Tornado Tuesday”, in 2003 has the region experienced that kind of demand on our first responders,” said Mike Harstad, president of the Minnehaha County Fire Chief’s Association from Crooks.

According to the county’s emergency manager, Lynn Deyoung, events like these serve a very important role “Most of these guys work their normal jobs during the day, they don’t have a whole lot of free time to travel to schools that drill large scale responses. We have to make sure they get the most relevant training while they are away from their families. Lessons learned from this training event will be used to improve first responder response on every day emergencies and natural or manmade disasters”.

The exercise is being held with the cooperation of the FREMAR, LLC, facility in Lyons, South Dakota. The public will not be allowed on-site during the event due to safety concerns. The Minnehaha County Sheriff’s Office will be providing a police presence at the facility to keep everyone safe. “We just can’t thank the elevator staff enough for allowing us to use their grounds for our exercise. However due to the number of fire apparatus vehicles that will be moving around we have to close the site down to ensure nobody gets injured”, said Harold Boer, Lyons fire chief.

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