Guymon Responds To Woodward Disaster
KSCB News - April 22, 2012 5:08 pm
Within minutes of the F3 tornado making a direct strike on Woodward early Sunday morning, Guymon�??s Specialized Emergency Services were called to respond.
Guymon Fire Department�??s Specialized Technical Rescue Team and Regional EMS team from Guymon were contacted by State officials in Oklahoma City just after the strike in Woodward. �??The first call was from Oklahoma Homeland Security personnel in the State Emergency Operations Center at 12:40am�?�, said Guymon Fire Chief Clark Purdy, who also was 1 of 2 Search & Rescue team coordinator at the scene. Rescue and Medical personnel from all over northwest Oklahoma were called, but due to the dangerous weather at that time emergency personnel and equipment in the immediate area of Woodward were not available. This left Guymon being the closest, most available, and best equipped service to respond.
Guymon responded with its large Technical Rescue team and unit. This team has specialized equipment to search for victims in collapsed structures, to remove victims and patients from areas that are not normal for fire department agencies to do on a regular basis. Also, Guymon Fire Department sent one EMS unit with specialized personnel trained in large scale medical operations such as this incident. The medical team has the trained personnel to handle large amounts of patient�??s at one time or spread over a large area. Guymon Fire Department personnel also had the responsibility of commanding and leading teams into the large areas hit by the tornado.
This was Guymon Fire Department�??s first emergency disaster of this size to respond to with the Technical Rescue Team and the second time in 3 years that the EMS Team has responded to an incident. �??Guymon and the surrounding area are very fortunate to have these assets and specialized personnel in the department here�?�, said Chief Purdy. Guymon�??s Search & Rescue team that completed the area searches did not find anyone trapped or need of rescue in any of the debris or in the neighborhoods they searched. All the critical and severely injured victims were cared for and transported by Woodward Fire/Rescue and Woodward County EMS before the Rescue Teams arrival.
What made this response even more challenging is that Guymon�??s Technical Rescue Team and EMS Response Team were not the only ones that were called. A similar response unit and supplies came from Weatherford Fire Department and a specialized medical team from the Oklahoma Highway Patrol supported the medical operations at the scene. �??None of these teams have ever worked together or trained together until this incident�?�, said Guymon Assistant Fire Chief Grant Wadley, who was Medical Operations leader. It�??s been up to each team in their own locations to train and be ready for disasters or incidents such as this.
All Search and Rescue operations were completed by 9:45am Sunday morning. The specialized rescue teams from Guymon and Weatherford were released from Woodward at 10:30am. All units and personnel were back in Guymon at 1:00pm Sunday afternoon.
These units and teams that were sent to Woodward are part of a system of emergency preparedness from Homeland Security that has been in place for several years now. Guymon has these units and equipment available and ready to respond, knowing that with this comes highly trained and experienced personnel that Guymon Fire Department already have on staff. �??It is a huge asset to have here in Guymon the units, equipment, and personnel, but its also the subject matter of when these services are called to deploy that peoples lives are at risk�?�, said Wadley. Having the right emergency responders with the right equipment and training does have a positive impact in life and death operations in disasters such as the one in Woodward on Sunday.
If you are interested in learning more about these specialized emergency services and the men and women that are responding please call the Guymon Fire Department at 580-338-5536.