Tama County first responders train for summer storms - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Tama County first responders train for summer storms


Eastern Iowa emergency responders are sharpening their skills as we enter into summer storm season.

Last July, crews from Tama and Toledo were challenged by a massive wind storm -- which swept through Tama and Benton Counties. Now, nine months later, firefighters, law enforcement, and emergency management teams are working together to be better prepared for future storms.

"We've had a storm go through here, we had a group of boy scouts out camping," said Tama County Public Information Officer Bruce McEltree when KWWL crews arrived at Otter Creek Park Saturday morning.

A massive storm, four kids missing, and a team of men and women working to bring them to safety. It's a drill, but for Assistant Fire Chief Kendall Jordan -- who also happens to be a parent himself -- the scenario is closer to reality than he'd like to think.

"It hits home a little. It makes you want to search... because we come camping out here. My kids could be up in the timber too," he said.

Tama County Emergency Management developed this drill after July's windstorm. Crews realized there were things they needed to work on -- more importantly, things they needed to work on together.

"We learned that it takes a lot of manpower to cover the towns and county to make sure everyone is safe and everyone's okay," said Jordan.

In Saturday's drill, some things went right, although it was clear to Jordan more people are needed if this emergency was a reality.

"We called in people from a number of different towns and we could have probably used more. And that's what we're going to critique the most -- is who to call in, and how many people we have to have to do something like this," said Jordan.

The chances of this exact scenario happening are slim. But when another emergency does happen, Tama County crews will know, and trust, the person on the other end of the radio.

"You have to have a practice like this, so that when the real thing comes along you're not completely confused, and they go smoothly and things get done," said McEltree.

Toledo firefighters say they've conducted several search and rescue efforts in the past -- in those cases, just one child was missing.

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