SURVIVE THE STORM: MSU students learn how to respond to tornado aftermath using scale model

Published: Apr. 1, 2020 at 7:17 PM CDT
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Students at Missouri State University are learning what to do after a tornado hits.

Tornadoes in the Ozarks are an annual occurrence and it's not a matter of if, but when, one strikes here in Springfield. Rather than wait for that to happen, students at Missouri State University are studying here: a scale model they use to learn how to become emergency responders and managers follwing a major tornado.

The class was told of the severe risk, something that didn't faze Mitchell Easter.

"We can confirm that there are multiple casualties," said Easter, referring to the mock tornado.

Easter is a graduate student at Missouri State, going for his masters in Public Administration. But on this night, he was incident commander, coordinating with his team on a tornado response in Springfield.

"I would get with weather," he began. "And ask them, make sure that we, that there's not another message that we should be sending out."

It's a scenario Larry Woods knows how important it is to prepare for.

"They're in the process now to try to get their hands around the situation," said Woods.

Woods in charge of emergency management in Greene County.

"They're starting to set up their command elements now," said Woods. "Trying to uh establish perimeters so that and get their resources into the scene."

Those resources include police, fire and ambulance.

"Adams and Commerce, we'll do a collection point there," said Easter, acting as incident commander.

Dispatching them where they can try and help.

"Have we gotten the kids out yet?" asked Easter.

"No, still working on it," replied another student.

The class also learned how to handle the public in a disaster as well as the media.

"We have search and rescue teams that are going to that location soon," said Easter. "So we wanna make sure that they stay out of the way and let us do our job."

It's all part of Doctor David Johnson's response training class. He stressed team work in this kind of situation.

"Nobody's gonna be able to pull this kind of stuff off without having some kind of structure," said Dr. Johnson.

That scale model they use is built by students involved in the annual training class. It gets larger each year as more students add to it.