Woodward, Okla. —
WOODWARD COUNTY FIRE DEPARTMENT STRIKE TEAM CALLED OFF
Several Woodward County firefighters were also ready and willing to go help as well. In fact, around 25 firefighters in 8 vehicles from all 5 county fire departments responded as part of a separate search and rescue strike team on Monday.
However, Woodward Fire Chief Steve Day said that the firefighters were eventually told they weren't needed and had to turn around in El Reno to return back to their stations.
After being deployed Monday afternoon, Day said he was "in touch with our dispatch on the whole way down there, having them send teletypes to see if we were still needed."
"They got in touch with us just before we got to El Reno and said they had enough help," he said. "So we confirmed with the state Emergency Operations Center to make sure we weren't needed before heading back."
Day said that the local firefighters had a mixed reaction to having their strike team called off.
"It was kind of a disappointment, but also kind of a relief," he said. "It was a disappointment because everyone was tuned up and ready to go. We want to be able to help and to participate. But it was a relief because of what we went through last year. Ours was a big event, but the event down there was 10 to 20 times as big."
Even while they were still expecting to go assist, Day said there were "double-edged" emotions.
"We don't want to see what we may see, but we also don't want to not be there to help," he said.
While the Woodward County team was told their assistance wasn't needed on Monday night, Day said the team remained on standby in case they might be needed later.
However, as the search and rescue and recovery efforts wrapped up on Tuesday, Day said he didn't believe the team would be requested again.
"There's always a chance, but I don't anticipate we will be," he said. "But if we do get a call, we'll get a team together and head that way. We always have firefighters willing to make that trip and sacrifice."
Especially considering how much assistance Woodward received when conducting its own search and rescue operations following the April 15, 2012 tornado.
"We had 37 departments with over 270 firefighters come to help us last year," Day said. "And anytime that happens, you want to return the favor, pay it forward."