Omaha Fire Fighters Train for Tornado Disaster - FOX 42: Omaha News, Sports and Weather; |

Omaha Fire Fighters Train for Tornado Disaster

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By: Leah Uko

OMAHA (KPTM) – The same damage caused by an F4 tornado in Moore, Oklahoma Monday can happen in Nebraska. Many of the Omaha Fire Department's recruits spent Tuesday afternoon training for similar disasters.

"Reality-based training is the best training that you can give an individual to prepare them," OFD Drill Master, Jim Palensky said. "Now nothing is going to prepare them for some unknowns out there that they're going to experience."

OFD held its annual hands-on exit exam. Trainees were advised to treat a high-rise building as if it was a hospital that was struck by a tornado.

"There's real smoke in there. There's some real fire in there," recruit Fred Pollack said. "When we got our first dummy out—dragged it out, the room we walked into, you could definitely feel the heat."

They had to apply their skills when working with hazardous materials, putting out a fire and rescuing victims.

"We're also looking for signs of a situation where we have a person that just is not meant for the job," Battalion Chief of the Training Division, Daniel Miller said.

Fire fighters who passed the exam in previous years went on to help out with real disasters—tornadoes in Missouri, Iowa, Kansas and Oklahoma.

"They have to be ready for a disaster situation the first day they hit the street. It can't take them 10 years to get there," Miller said.

Because a big part of what makes a disaster disastrous is its unpredictable timing.

At FEMA's request, the Nebraska Task Force 1 and the Urban Search and Rescue Team were deployed to help out in Moore, Oklahoma.

The 82-member team got there Tuesday morning to help out wherever they are needed.

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