"Vigilant Guard" drill prepares first responders for deadly disa - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

"Vigilant Guard" drill prepares first responders for deadly disasters

First responders practiced how to respond to a deadly incident Wednesday. (Source: WALB) First responders practiced how to respond to a deadly incident Wednesday. (Source: WALB)
The firefighters say large-scale trainings like this help prepare them for the real-world disasters they never want to see happen. (Source: WALB) The firefighters say large-scale trainings like this help prepare them for the real-world disasters they never want to see happen. (Source: WALB)
The first responders showed how passionate they are about what they do. (Source: WALB) The first responders showed how passionate they are about what they do. (Source: WALB)
"We train for this everyday," said John Thompson, a HAZMAT Technician with the Albany Fire Department. (Source: WALB) "We train for this everyday," said John Thompson, a HAZMAT Technician with the Albany Fire Department. (Source: WALB)
"It was rescue after rescue after rescue," Lt. Wilson said of the safety efforts following Albany's tornado on January 22. (Source: WALB) "It was rescue after rescue after rescue," Lt. Wilson said of the safety efforts following Albany's tornado on January 22. (Source: WALB)
ALBANY, GA (WALB) -

First responders practiced how to respond to a deadly incident Wednesday, to be better prepared for the real thing.

"We train for this everyday," said John Thompson, a HAZMAT Technician with the Albany Fire Department.

The Marine Corps Logistics Base hosted the Vigilant Guard Exercise Wednesday morning.

Ambulances, firetrucks, and police set up near the scene of a mock disaster: a train that derailed, spilling chlorine. Several vehicles, including a school bus, were involved in the crash.

"We retrieved four victims," Thompson said. "Four of those were walking wounded, and we had one that was actually unconscious."

"It was a real-world situation to us," said AFD Lt. Jonathan Wilson. "We were able to retrieve the victim. Coming back out, we were able to get the walking wounded with us and get them into the (decontamination) line."

For these Albany first responders, the event brought back memories from the deadly tornadoes back in January, although the mock incident was much more contained.

"It was rescue after rescue after rescue," Lt. Wilson said of the safety efforts following Albany's tornado on January 22. "It was mentally and physically draining."

The first responders showed how passionate they are about what they do.

"Even the smallest house fire, I think about my wife and kids before I go in the door because I want to see them when I get home," said Lt. Wilson. "Every one of us wants to do that."

The firefighters say large-scale trainings like this help prepare them for the real-world disasters they never want to see happen.

"We don't get to see this everyday, so when we do have a drill like this, we get a lot of knowledge," said Thompson.

The Georgia Florida Railway worked as part of the Vigilant Guard Exercise as well.

Spokesperson Ron Margulis said these trainings help the railway get to know other first responders they might have to work with in case a disaster strikes.

"People in the community, us in the private sector, the Marine base, everybody's got their own interest," said Margulis. "But, if we work together on catastrophes that could happen, then the outcome is much better."

Different public and private organizations responded as well, including the Southwest Georgia Public Health District.

The Joint Information Center, a new fixture in the yearly disaster training, allowed public information officials to exercise their roles in these types of disasters.

"It just helps more with the dynamics of it, when you've got these multiple agencies all working together instead of working in these silos," said Carolyn Maschke with the Southwest Georgia Public Health District.

Copyright 2017 WALB. All rights reserved.

Powered by Frankly