The Woodward News

Local News

June 19, 2012

First responders to hold demonstration

Woodward, Okla. — Northwest Oklahoma first responders will be coming together today to demonstrate their rescue equipment and exercise their communications systems as part of disaster response training.

The event will be held from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Woodward County Fairgrounds. The public is invited to attend and watch the first-responders including  firefighters, EMT's police officers and emergency managers.

The event, which is a response system demonstration, is sponsored by the Oklahoma Office of Homeland Security (OKOHS).

"Some of this equipment actually came up and assisted us after the April 15 tornado," said Matt Lehenbauer, director of emergency management.

Lacey Callahan, public affairs coordinator with OKOHS, said the training will teach first responders how to handle all types of disasters ranging from tornados to acts of terrorism.

"It's important because we've learned all too well, big disasters don't just happen in the big cities," Callahan said. "We want to show we've prepared all parts of the state and responders everywhere to respond to catastrophes like what happened in Woodward."

Several state legislators have also been invited to the event.

"We invited state legislators to educate themselves about what types if resources are out there," she said.

Kim Carter, director of OKOHS, will also be attending and talking about the response system and answering any questions, Callahan said.

One of the key areas the training demonstration will assist with is how to handle communications during a disaster.

"The biggest problem in any major event is usually communications," Lehenbauer said.

This is because different agencies use different types of communication systems and there are also different systems used on different levels, whether its a local, state or federal level, he said.

However, there is specialized equipment that compiles those different communications equipment together, he said.

Lehenbauer said he is one of few communications unit leaders certified in the state that handles the complexities of communications including radio, telephone and internet, during disasters.

"We're forced to familiarize ourselves with different equipment spread out through Oklahoma, not just here, but the entire state," he said.

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