Coordination with the National Weather Service (NWS) and its partners is crucial, especially in times of disaster. Last week, the NWS in Northern Indiana held a coordination workshop, to practice a disaster scenario in real time.
Mock emergencies could range from oil spills, to chemical fires, and even train derailments, which was the scenario the NWS was using last week for their training. The train that derailed during this mock incident, was leaking hazardous materials, and in this case the weather service would be needed to give information about how winds would impact the plume of chemicals, and how the rain would impact recovery and clean up efforts.
Emergency managers from the area participated, and were requesting this and other information they would need if this were to actually happen. “This is really great because one of the things we’re doing is bringing in Emergency Managers, they have experienced this in real life. We’re bringing their expertise into the room, they are actually then conducting questions and directing questions at the weather service employee that’s here and they are asking the questions that they like to have answered in a real incident”, said Michael Lewis a Meteorologist and the NWS in Northern Indiana.
In addition to those emergency managers, Meteorologists Adam Soalrczyk and Joe Strus, were on hand to serve as media members, asking questions about the incident to help the NWS meteorologist become comfortable answering questions on camera. This all in an effort to make sure each group understand what one another needs, and what the others can provide.
Megan Dodson was the NWS meteorologist going through the training and said it is very important to for these bonds at workshops like this, “When people respond to things, what kind of information can we give them to make the decision faster, and better. So that lives are saved in the end. So it’s more about, making sure we are plugged in. We know the partners, the media, we know everybody. We have those relationships built and in place before an incident happens so it runs a lot smoother.”
Exercises such as these help the National Weather Service better prepare for their mission of “Saving lives, and Minimizing loss.”