Local firefighters return from specialized disaster training in GA

ANGOLA, Ind. (WANE) Three area firefighters are back home after attending a specialized training exercise in Georgia last week. About 30 public safety officials statewide participated in the event. The exercise focused on earthquake training, and took place at the Guardian Centers, a privately-held 830 acre training facility in Perry, Georgia.

Hundreds of people worked to simulate the aftermath of a 6.8 magnitude earthquake that destroyed homes and businesses. It was apart of a five-day disaster training.

“They had a hotel that was damaged, a parking garage that was damaged, cars hanging,” said TR Hagerty, of the Angola Fire Department. “They had a car tunnel. That was actually a major deal where the tunnel actually collapsed around the vehicles then the teams had to go in and make recoveries.”

Responders from eight different states took part in the action. T-R Hagerty, Chris Walker of the Fort Wayne Fire Department and Jason Meeks of the Angola Fire Department were the few from district three that were chosen. Hagerty and his team worked side by side with other first responders. Including the highly ranked New York Fire Department.

“Merging with one of the largest fire departments in the country was a complete honor for us,” said Hagerty. “And they treated us like we were one of their team members. You wouldn’t have thought anything different. It was a phenomenal experience.”

Hagerty says training exercises like this one help prepare first responders to handle disasters locally, and in the event they are deployed to help worldwide.

“Its not just the earthquake, it’s the huge event. The hurricane, the flood, the tornado. It’s just trying to keep everything straight trying to make sure you get everything done. And that you’re getting clear and concise information out to the public,” he said.

Exercise participants are a mix of state and local emergency management, emergency medical, fire, law enforcement and military professionals.

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