Several Local Emergency Responders Participate in a MABAS Exercise


April’s devastating tornado reminded us all of how vile Mother Nature can truly be. While many of us hope it never happens again, first responders still have to be ready.

On Sunday, Rockford area first responders got a practice run on how they would deal in the worst case scenario here, so that they know what to do if what happened in April, happens in the Forest City.

“We’ve seen first hand the destruction that mother nature can (have) on the local communities,” Battalion Chief Allen Geeser of the Cherry Valley Fire Department said. “So this gives us a chance under a controlled situation to affect these rescues.”

Several different Stateline departments participated in a mutual aid box alarm system exercise, simulating a tornado, like the one in April, hitting the Rockford area.

“This is the first of its kind exercise for this area,” Battalion Chief Geeser added. “There are several teams that have come together to perform this exercise, and everyone has specialized training, tools and techniques, but this is really the first exercise to put it all together.”

And while first responders in the field work to sift through the damage, others kept track of the damage and facilitated needs from a remote location at the Rockford Fire Department Headquarters, answered phone calls and sending help where it’s needed and also keeping track of their resources.

“It tests all your resources in the area and makes you look at what agreements you have to back up once your resources are depleted,” District Chief Tracy Renfro of the Rockford Fire Department.

Even though today’s events were all just a part of the test, April’s devastation is a bleak reminder that this can happen for real at any moment,

“It just re-enforces for us just how close to home this can hit,” Chief Gesser added. “(And) we have the specialized teams and the best members of the fire department in the area performing these rescue operations.”

Today’s exercises had been in the works since January, before April’s tornado hit.

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