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Disaster exercise prepares first responders

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First responders tested the incident command system. First responders tested the incident command system.
Responders said they want victims to follow their orders and assist them if possible. Responders said they want victims to follow their orders and assist them if possible.
More than 30 area hospitals participated in Wednesday's event. More than 30 area hospitals participated in Wednesday's event.

By Audrey Esther, News9.com

Several hundred regional first responders practiced preparing for the worst Wednesday during a full-scale disaster exercise. Officials said it's vital that regional first responders train together so they can be prepared if the worst were to strike the metro.

The multiple tornado scenario disaster took place at the Oklahoma City Fire and Police training center. However, officials said the skills participants lean in this type of exercise can be useful in most any type of disaster.

More than 400 people took part in today's event, which included almost 30 area hospitals and the Oklahoma State Department of Health.

It takes about six months to plan an exercise of this scale. Oklahoma City conducts two disaster exercises a year.

"What we tried to create is a scene that is not easily accessible to the first responders," Frank Barnes with the Oklahoma City Office of Emergency Management said. "We've blocked the streets with debris and scattered victims around the scene."

Also at the mock disaster scene were several dozen stuffed animals. The stuffed animal represented real domestic pets. Responders said knowing how to deal with victims and their pets has become increasingly more important.

"I'm glad that the government has finally realized that animals are family members and they're not just things," volunteer, Sally Blevins said.

The information officials obtain from the exercise is kept confidential but is used to help them plan the next exercise.

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