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Home>Topics>>After the Tornado: An Interview with Joplin (MO) Fire Training Officers

After the Tornado: An Interview with Joplin (MO) Fire Training Officers

Mon, 1 Aug 2011|

Chief Bobby Halton talks to Joplin (MO) Training Officers Scott Cranford and Mike Redshaw about the devastating tornado that ravaged the city in May 2011.



[MUSIC] [BLANK_AUDIO] This is Bobby Halton with fire engineering and we are out in Joplin, Missouri still interviewing the command staff of the Joplin fire department. Chief Randall was kind enough to allow us to interview his. Folks, today, we've got these two training officers. We have Scott Cranford and Mike Redshaw, who are, they're training officers. And we're gonna talk to them a little bit about what they went through that day and then how their training's gonna be affected going forward. And how they're going to manage these events in the future. And some of the lessons learned that they can share with the rest of the fire service, cuz you went through, obviously was the most significant tornado in the history of the United States. With 159 as of today I believe it is or 156 confirmed fatalities. >> 158 yesterday. >> 158. >> I'm not sure if they've updated it today yet or not. >> 158. >> 158, which is unbelievable in and of itself. And then the amount of destruction is in, incredible. And Mike was just talking about in the EOC one of the things you were able to do with GIS. And, one of the things we were talking about was I, I, the reason it came up, was we were talking about the before and after shots of the neighborhoods. How, what can you do with GIS now during these disasters that you learned? At this and that. >> One of the things, the first time I got down in the OC was [COUGH] they had created a large wall sized map utilizing satellite photography that showed the damaged path. It was fresh enough and new enough it was post-tornado so we could actually see. A map of the city with the overlays of the streets and where we had outlined what we thought was the path, and overlaid everything so we could see where the damage was via satellite view. And they were even able to take that a step further whenever we we're doing search patterns later in, in the days. Post tornado. Where it showed red for the heaviest, most significant damage. And then yellow for moderate damage. And various colors, so we could break it down into different grids, and focus our resources. And maximize where we were sending those resources. >> Now, Mike, how long have you been on the job here? Here in Joplin, I've been on for eight years. >> And is Joplin your first fire department or did you come here. >> Well I've, I was a volunteer prior to this, now, little town southwest of here, called Purdy Missouri. >> Okay, Purdy Missouri? >> Yeah. >> So you've got about 13. >> About 16 years. >> 16. >> Between volunteer and here, and then. Men, some professionally, and that's before I got into the professional fire service. >> So you ever think you'd ever see anything like this? >> No, and I've, I was there in 2003 when Pierce City got hit. By the tornado, Pierce City, Carl Junction, when that outbreak occurred. And then May 10th. Was 2008 or 2009 where the tornado F-4 tracked from Pitcher all the way through Purdy where my home town is. But neither compared to anything like I saw coming to town for this. >> Right, I saw a picture, picture I was at Pitcher and this is completely off the scale. How long have you been the training chief? For a little over a year now. >> Okay. >> Best job, best job in the fire service. >> Yep. One of the best. >> You know don't, don't ever tell the chiefs but the guys who really effect change in the fire service, can really change a fire department that's the training, that's the training division. >> Yeah, absolutely. >> It, it, the bad thing about training is when everything thing goes wrong, it's a training issue. [LAUGH] >> It's a training issue. >> It's a training issue. We do that daily [CROSSTALK]. >> S, so Scott how long have you been on? >> Absolutely, all of two months and a few days. >> Oh my goodness. >> [SOUND] april 14th, I believe was my first day here at, Joplin Missouri. Just hired, fresh out of interview and- >> Now where'd you come from? >> I'd spent, most of my career, at [UNKNOWN] valley fire protection district. District 78 square miles just east of Kansas City about 28 miles from Kansas City and I did a majority of my career there before I came to Southwest Missouri just a few years ago and, really I crossed over from there to the Chief part of doing things. Got my degree, me education in place. << About 17 years experience in, and. << Welcome to Missouri. << Talk about being baptized by fire. << Welcome to Joplin. << Yes, absolutely. << Hows it working out for you so far? << You know. << We're firefighters, this is where we want to be, no one wants to be home watching a fire on TV. You know, cuz then you just end up cursing A shift or whoever's on, you know, those guys aren't as good as us, if I was there, you know, that kind of stuff, but you want to be where you get good work and you do good work. >> I absolutely wouldn't have asked for a better crew or management or support from anyone else than this department, this community, it has really pulled through. And i continue to pull through the support we have received from everyone has been above and beyond what it is to being an American. I'm grateful. >> You know when people say that we are not whom we were back belony. America gets better every day. The greatest generation in the 40s. I've got young sons in the military. They are the greatest generation. I mean every generation of Americans is exceeded and we're going to continue to. >> Just when you think man this country, I don't know what's happening to it. Something like this happens and everybody steps up. >> That's exactly right. >> And they're right there for their brothers and sisters, our brothers and sisters in the fire service as well as the. People in the community. Oh, we've had people from New York, California, and all corners of the country come here to help out in some way or means. >> Any way they can. >> Yeah. They just want to help. >> Absolutely. >> So, so, where were you, Mike, on Sunday night? >> I was actually at home, down, plus, I still live in Perby, which is. About 50 minutes to an hour away from here. >> Okay. >> And one of the guys gave me a phone call, I got a cellphone call, I had no idea the weather was even bad. It was nice and sunny at home, I was playing outside with my two boys. >> Wow. >> And he said, hey, I just heard Joplin got hit by a tornado. So, oh, okay. So I turned my radio on, was listening, and he called me back, said I heard two of our stations got hit. Well, at that point, when I was starting to hear a little bit of the radio traffic, and texted Chief Burkins and Chief Randalls about do I need to get up there, or what's going on, because where I live, even as a call-in chief. Been in our way, you know is this something that major that i need to be there for. [CROSSTALK] >> Is this broken windows [CROSSTALK]. >> Yeah. >> So they just cut back. >> Yeah, i got a yes from Chief Randalls, and. Phone call from Chief Berkins saying get up here and get whatever warm bodies you can. We've got three other guys at work here that live down by where I do, a couple in Purdy and a couple in Pure city, so we made contact and headed up this way. >> Now are, are, Purdy and Pure city they're on your mutual aid so they were probably, they probably sent folks as well? >> Yes, yeah, the departments also sent people to assist. >> Now where did you get details once you got up here? Once I got up here and checked in I got first detailed to the area 20th of Connecticut. As I came in, they were getting report of a structure fire at 18th and St. Louis. One of the mutual aid companies were here, and they weren't sure really how to get there. So I just walked in, there ya go. I can get you there. So I grabbed one of the department vehicles and led him there and that was one old saying, that's when I first realized the way we had come into town trying to side skirt everything, we saw a tractor trailer rolled over and some debris, like OK no big deal. But whenever I topped the hill about 16th and Connecticut and saw I was like, oh my Lord. With what just happened here, and we've been talking to a lot of folks out there in internet land about the fact that Joplin is rolling hills >> Yes >> And as you crest the hill coming into Joplin about half mile, maybe mile and a half into the city limits. You see it. >> Yeah. >> You know, and, and. >> And, all of a sudden, it's there. [LAUGH] >> It is there. And it takes. >> More, of course, not there. >> Yeah. >> Yeah. >> The view from St. Mary's might be worse view of all. >> Yeah. >> When you stand in that church parking lot and you look to the west and you look to the east and you just go, oh, my God. >> Yeah. >> And, and the pictures and the TV just did not do it justice. >> No. To stand in the middle of it and be able to look as far as they eye can see, east and west. >> So you went right to fire duty. >> Yeah, I went right to, right to fire duty. And we're talking [INAUDIBLE] finding things, being disoriented. All the landmarks are gone and you don't realize, until you're in the middle of it, how much you rely on landmarks, like the green house there on the corner. That's 18th street. And one of the things we pride ourselves on here in Joplin is knowing our streets and knowing our addresses and how to find them. It took forever to find the intersection of 18th in St. Louis. Let alone the time to get there, because everything was gone. There was no street signs, there was nothing marking hey this is. >> And everything is down to basically street level, I mean you can see forever, there's nothing really above five or six foot survived it, I mean as far as you can tell. >> Yeah, and you can tell that there was no. There's no structure fire, by any means. Really, there's no structure there. >> It was all a debris fire. >> It, it was just debris, and there wasn't even a fire. I don't know how the report came in, but we ended up, we ended up getting freed up from that. And, actually, one of my crew, on of the crews went to the grocery store, there, on 20th Street. The Dylan store, and ended up doing some rescues and pulling some people out of there. And I ended up with another crew doing some quick grid work and search work until I got reassigned and, to come back down to the command center and get reassigned. >> Well you know, one of the things that the chief went over with us at Perkins, which I thought was fascinating, and I've never thought of it. You know, there's so many things that are coming out in these interviews which I think. As we go forward in our emergency management training, our disaster preparedness, we're gonna have to start considering, he said you have to remember that if I had a fire, the possibility for that thing to spread exponentially was unbelievable because of all the debris on the ground that's all flammable and it's all contiguous now, it's all just on the ground. That you have a, you have a wild land fire from hell type situation. >> Exactly. Yeah. >> Cuz it's heavy to breathe and it's gonna burn hot and fast but it's that same theory of, I've got all this fuel on the ground. >> Never thought, I never thought, and, and then, he told us about how all the little drains, all the house, all the house lines are cut, all the small business lines are cut. >> Yeah. So the water pressures gone. Because you got, got 8000 leaks. >> Yeah. >> I never though of that. Just the stuff that's coming out is like. Well that's. >> Even a three-quarter or one-inch line you pop thousands of them. >> Thousands of them. >> And sprinkler systems in place like, Home Depot, Wal-Mart. All just calling. >> WIth the, you know even the four inch mains coming out of those sprinkler systems. It sucks a lot of water down pretty fast. >> So you're rolling up and you've got no hydrants now. >> Right. >> Cuz the systems down. >> Right. >> The systems' maxed. Unbelievable. >> Yeah. >> So. so Scott, where were you in what was your first experience? Well, we had just, gotten moved into our new home and, Web City, just a little bit North of the border of Joplin City limits. And no TV, no radio or anything like that to warn us so I just got done, sat down on the front yard relaxing. And next thing you know the sirens go off. Well, I've got my family, and my five beautiful kids. And all them honey, get in the restroom! You know, get them into the restroom, it's a small space. They're in the bathtub, bunch of towels. You know, they're doing the best they can. I run and grab my radio, and like proudly every fire fighter, I ran outside to see if I could see anything. I guess I'll admit that. >> That's the classic! What's the, what's the Jeff Foxworthy deal? There's always some guy, wader's walking through the water, and it's your cousin. And there's always some firefighter out there going where the heck is it? >> And that's when I noticed on the radio, listening to the radio, turned on my handheld. And. I'd heard the damage come across from Station Two. I heard the battalion chief ask if everyone was okay and at that moment I knew that this was a pretty significant event. And I went in, got dressed and 'course while I'm getting dressed everybody else is in there. And I go, please, God, don't let the tornado hit with me half naked [LAUGH] I don't want anybody to ever have to go through that. And got dressed. And you know, started immediately towards the station. I kissed my babies goodbye, which was kind of emotional. >> Yeah, I bet. >> You know I had never actually seen a tornado real life, up close. But from sitting outside, you could hear what started like beginning thunder. Like the beginning of thunder, and it never quit, and my wife had stepped out for a second right before I got ready to leave, and I go do you hear that, and she goes, yeah, it sounds like thunder, I go, yes, but it hasn't stopped. They're getting hit, you know, and that's when the traffic came over the radio. She went back to the bathroom with the kids. They kissed em goodbye. And I started towards the station immediately. And, you know, and coming into the station from the north side you could see just, you know, copious amounts of tree tops, you know, kind of chopped off at the top. Nothing too big or damaged or anything. I got to station one and I saw Chief Perkins standing upstairs. Chief, where do you want me? I need you downstairs in the EOC center now. And so, first thing I did was, I went right downstairs. And, again I didn't see daylight for [LAUGH] I think till the first time I saw you. And I didn't even recognize you. I sincerely apologize >> No, no, no. >> for that. >> That's all right. But immediately. >> I, I, just so the viewers know what the chief's talking about, I, we were at the Home Depot parking lot. It was about oh, about noon the next day, and he had just gotten out from being underground for twelve hours and was on a mission, doing something going from somewhere to somewhere. And we're gonna grab them for quick interview. And if you could have seen the look of focus in your eyes it's like unless you're a Sherman tank you're not getting between this man and anything. >> Firefighters are usually task oriented. >> Oh, you were tasked. >> Yeah, absolutely. >> You were, you were, you were moving, you were on a bee line for your vehicle and let this man pass so. So then from the EOC where did you go? >> Well, I, I went downstairs to the EOC and they were just setting up everything, Batallian chief Tim Woodward and, Keith Stammer, and all the rest of the, the wonderful staff were getting the room set up the way it needed to be. Tim sent me over battalion chief of that shift that day, sent me over to dispatch. I walk into the dispatch center. >> Let's send the new guy to dispatch. Yeah. >> [LAUGH] This is a guy that has no you know, resident knowledge of the town of exactly where things are supposed to be, but I've been in dispatch a few times prior and saw what it was supposed to be like. That was nothing [LAUGH] like it was supposed to be like, but what I saw was very organized dispatchers. I saw a firefighter at each station with each of the dispatchers taking complete notes writing on note paper, one, two, ten, fifteen, twenty calls per page. And they gathered them all up, and then handed it, here you go chief, because I was the only white shirt in the room. I go, what do you want me to do with this? So immediately I took that back over to my battalion chief and we set up a stat board and started prioritizing each call. If you can call it prioritizing because. You're talking just about >> There's so many critical calls, you just start getting to them >> And I've got a couple of photos of the first words that we wrote down it's just we took photos of it because we didn't have anyone to do data entry on a computer >> Right you wanted to capture that >> Absolutely ever- >> A historical record. Every single call that came out, we wanted to make sure that we documented, thoroughly and we knew how important that process would be later on. >> Well y'all did such an amazing job when you, you know we've said it over and over again, but when you think of how fast this department really triaged and, and then did the primary. In this entire community, really before the sun set. I mean, you know, at least before the sun came up the next day you guys had been over this land at least once ___ because we got here within 12 to 14 hours and it was marked...it was...the primaries were done and you were already moving to really secondary searches. Void searches which is amazing when you look at the size of this event. Just amazing. >> Just the, the, width of it, and the length of the track. >> And the complexity. >> Yeah, it's, yeah it's not just you know a little small town. [CROSSTALK] >> No, and, it's, it's, multiple story homes and single story homes, it's school buildings, and it's church buildings, and. >> Apartment complexes. >> It was 5 o'clock at night, so people are, on a Sunday, so people are literally everywhere. Right. >> You know, is not like on a, like right now Tuesday after noon. You know, the score, you can't predict where people might be. But on sunday evening, there's so much going on, and, and you really did such a great job, I mean you really did. So, you, you, you're out of the EOC now, you're out on the street working as a, a chief again. >> I, I got assigned to so many different things that through out the next. A few days as well as a Jeep Bradshaw, which was a remarkable experience for both of us together at the same time. Basically throughout the entire, next few days, I don't think that we got but maybe an hour, two hours of sleep. We were up that long. We went and got rest upstairs on the floor next to our training room office. Back in the weight room. Whatever we had to do to get rest in a short period of time and make things happen. Past that, I thought that Chief Randall, I thought that Chief Perkins, our deputy chief of operations, did an outstanding job. >> Unbelievable. >> For a chief to have lost his house, and deal with what was going on on a personal note, and then also to do an entire assessment of a town. Come back an hour later into the EOC and give an, an assessment of where the damage paths were, which gave all of us a picture of where everything was. Our mapping could then, from there, work on a grid system. We could start getting coordinates, getting coordinated rescue operations out to the most hard-hit areas. And from that point, we called out as many search and rescue teams urban search and rescue teams as we can get on the way. Dog, dog teams and just about every UHA Fire Department that was available. And we kind of knew that anybody to the east of us. Was getting hit with the same storms. >> Yeah, nobody could. We got hit with this, Tulsa guys, so we got hit with the weather part of it. But we didn't get hit, I think you're the only ones that really got nailed with a tornado. I think up in the Kansas way, they got some tornado activity up there. But nothing like what you all. Which y'all got hit with. So, so there you both are you're, you're doing all this then you come back as the dust settles, as they say, which I know it's still settling. >> Yeah. >> It's still settling! [LAUGH] >> It'll be settling for, for months for y'all, but and we really do appreciate taking time out of your day for us. >> No problem. >> Thank you so much. But. Training-wise, what had you done before hand that, cuz your folks, all the folks around here, handle themselves in such an exemplary way. What are the, what are the skill sets that you really think that men and women should always have what we routinely call the basics in order to cope with something like this? That, on a training aspect, that's one of the things we actually talked about, in the days after the storm was, you, you can't train for something like this. If, if we had done even a tabletop of, hey, let's take an F5 tornado, wipe out a hospital, and track all through town, everybody looked at you and said, okay, let's do something realistic. Right, so you can do your mass casualty training which we have done. We have done command training and things like that but to try to do a worst case scenario like this. >> [CROSSTALK] what you are saying is so true because a true story came out of Oklahoma city that they were, before the Oklahoma city F5 hit they were going to do a training exercise. And somebody said well lets do an F5 tornado scenario. And somebody in the very room [INAUDIBLE] a planning guy, a guy who gets paid to do this kind of stuff says nah it's too unrealistic, it would never happen. You know, and now we've got Oklahoma City and now we've got you guys with two F5s through the middle of, I mean an F5 in farm country is a big deal. >> Right. >> But when it goes through the middle of a heavily populated 50 thousand person city. That's a big day. And I mean, it hit your, would you say this is your densest population for residential? Because that was pretty dense. >> Yeah, because we're talking about the area of 20th and Connecticut. There's several 2, 3 story apartment complexes. >> Right? And right behind Wal-Mart they got hit. Another set of apartment complexes. >> And even down by St. Mary's, that, those never. 30 or 40 years old, so they're on those older city lots. >> Right. >> They're a little closer than we build today. >> Right. You know over by St. John, it hit the hospitals. Densely populated and nursing home and things like that. So, yeah probably are more densely, tighter, what you picture you know. Probably suburban type housing where they're 100 foot from each other, but they're still pretty tight and compact as opposed to a small town where they're further away. >> So what are the things that and people are gonna be picking your brains for years to come. >> Oh yeah. >> [LAUGH] >> So, get used to it. I'm just the first guy we're not gonna stop cuz no one has gone through what you've gone through. The Oklahoma City guys have a little different experience because as it cut the sloth through although it was horrific and a tremendous amount of damage, not nearly as comprehensive as what happened here in Joplin. And what I mean by comprehensive, size wise Oklahoma City's got a million and a half, two million people and you know they've got several, they got, I think they've got six or several hundred firefighters, it's a big job. You guy's have your 80 men and women, 50,000 people, and a third of your city. >> Right. >> Has been torn asunder. So what are some of the training, cause you're going to keep working out there, what are some of the training things you would want to, skill sets that fire fighters should have, for these kinds of events? >> I think a lot of it goes down to the core basis of what we do with training. It's being able to work under incident management. And being, being disciplined and working under that type of system. Everybody reports to somebody, the guys that need to take command, take command. Another aspect of this, as we've listened to the radio traffic here and there is having guys that know how to keep their cool. When station two got hit. And you hear over the radio, I, I mean, I wouldn't have blamed the guys one bit if they sounded freaked out over the radio but they weren't. A simple Battalion One, be advised, Station 2 has extensive damage. We're out of service and then call in that they were gonna need heavy equipment to get out. And they're, they're already pulling bags off the trucks say, people have seen the video on the weather channel and things like that, where they're pulling equipment off the trucks using their heads and getting into that gear, that we know what we need to be doing, this is what's in front of us, this is what we need to do, even at the basic level, were gonna have injuries,. [UNKNOWN]. We're not gonna be able to handle the heavy stuff right now. Even as, even me in Joplin. We have a structural collapse team. But when you get hit that structural collapse team's out the window. >> Right. >> We can't even use that right now. >> [UNKNOWN] good solid knowledge with your hand tools. >> Yeah. One of, of the things that kind of [UNKNOWN]. It's even a quarter amount of my emails. Disciplined thought, disciplined people, disciplined action. And those three core things, that's what our guys showed and exemplified. You know, they,they were disciplined, they knew what they needed to do, they worked within the command structure. They did what they had to do and stayed within that. And their thoughts. Is what we need to be doing and focusing on what they need to do, and then their actions, tied right in with everything. But those core values, and doing what firemen do. >> Right, like the marine core, everybody's a rifle men. >> Right, everybody's a rife man, even the, the captains and all that. Throwing rescue equipment on a. beat up pick up out in the parking lot because that's the only thing they can get free because this is our job. >> You're still firefighters. >> We're okay. We gotta get this equipment out here to do this. Even though our trucks buried under the station, we can still improvise, adapt and overcome, because this is our job. This is what we've gotta do, this is what we're trained to do. We can get the basic equipment to do it, let's go do it. >> Since I've been here for the, for the last few months and we've had two different academies, a driver academy and new hire academy. For people that we've brought on board. And one of the things, in in the interview process. >> Now before you go any further, what do they come to you with? You know, what what is someone, if someone's looking to say hey I'd like to be part of that [UNKNOWN], fire department. What, because you, your your gonna have a lot of people wanting to come here after seeing how squared away you are. >> We require a minimum of E-M-T, and firefighter [UNKNOWN] fire fighter to one and two certifications. And then we have of course a testing process and all that and then beyond that to test for driver they have to have a minimum of six months on and we put em through an academy that's comparable and it integrates a lot of the, the, dry pump, right pumping apparatus driver operator curriculum and they can actually test when they get done for that certification. But also we tie in a lot of what we wanted to know. [COUGH] Local rules, our area, how we pump, and things like that. >> And advanced basics, if you will. Like polishing what they should already know prior to and in doing that it kinds of empowers the new higher, empowers. A sense of self pride and respect, of. >> So they feel like a system. They're. They're in the system before they get into the system. >> Yes. >> Yeah. So you, you were saying you've been through two academies. >> To, two different academies here, both the driver and the new-hire academy. And top-quality candidates. They select the best through a good process. From there they have candidates who are willing to go though what their, their taught. Kinda out aside thing that they knew in the past and open their minds to new techniques. The way they have done things here, introduce them to a good culture and from what I've known and seen here, so far, this is probably one of the best cultures, a, at least in the south west Missouri. Part when it comes to fire department has no insult to any other fire department, but I like to see a department that's has got it together. And I like to see good command structure. You have firefighters that are willing to pick up the dishes, even though the chiefs fight with them not to do it. You have firefighters who open the door for the public. Customer service is number one, and you're gonna see it here. And you're missing the professionalism and I wouldn't doubt it if every firefighter walked out that door with a sense of I belong to something good and I'm doing something good for the citizens of Joplin. And they know it's their job, but you know personally I'd like to thank them. Good and I'm, I'm glad to be a part of this department. >> Well you just did. >> Yeah. >> We'll make sure that stays in, >> Don't edit that out guys. That's important. So, what some of the training that you wanna recommend the, they haven't seen what you see what are some of the things you're doing in heavy rescue, how are, how are you gonna, how are you gonna, if we can do it differently. how are you gonna improve, how you gonna add, what are you gonna add to it,. What are you guys thinking you'd like to do with your new hires and... Real quick. You're going to laugh at this one. July of 2011 was supposed to b masked as the incident training for the... Our EMS CEs. And he...(Multiple talking). I think he can write you off on that. Yeah, yeah. I think we fit that one. Yeah, you covered that. Yeah. I Maintaining what we've been doing is a big thing. This program, this is something chief Perkins has set up, years ago, and has tweaked and tweaked. And when I came in, I got the opportunity to jump in with chief Perkins, and start, adding my ideas. >> Now is he a training chief also? >> Yeah he wa-, he was until. What March or so? >> About 8 months ago, 6, 8 months ago. >> Yeah. If, if that even. He recently got promoted. He's been doing the job of deputy chief since probably December or so but, but yeah when he got promoted to deputy chief is when we opened up the other training chief's position and. Fire Chief Crampton, >> You got the right guys, I'll tell you. >> And now, and now we get to tie, tie his ideas in and take it to the next step. But, I, I really think focusing on kinda like our history wall, and this is one of the first things we do with our new hires is, this is the history of this department. [COUGH] You, you chose us. You know, we didn't come looking for you. We hired you, we want you. You chose us for a reason now understand the history of our department and why we do things. You now, not just, well we use a triple layer load on our attack calls. Why do we use that? Why does that work for us? And even the history of the department, the little things - - >> Joplin thread. >> --yeah, for a hundred. Yeah, the Joplin thread. Why do we have Joplin thread, you know? And for, for 130 years almost, since 1882, we've been here, we've been doing this, there's been somebody here. You're now a part of that, and this is what we expect of you. And the very first day is a lot of that. It's history, it's meeting of the chiefs, it's getting our expectations before we even start getting into how we do things. So, and then getting into the this is what is expected of you, this is how discipline, this is how we work our ranks, little things like every morning coming in. Cleaning the station, making sure your trucks ready to go, little things like that that I believe are still discipline I mean in the military it's caught on to this for hundreds of years, little things is still discipline and disciplined people become disciplined and, and people around them become disciplined. And with that, they can gain knowledge. They're not, you know, sitting in a recliner all day. They're reading. You know, reading a fire engineering or whatever magazine. >> Read em all. >> Yeah, the online. Doing things like that. That's one of the things we still- be a student of the job. You can arguments about what a professional is. But, when it comes right down to it, this is what we tell them. A professional is a student of the job. When you look at doctors and lawyers and the engineers, they're constantly having to learn their trade. This isn't a job, you come in, you sit through a four week academy. And, or, or I get to cruise from here. And, you know, you have to costly learn. >> It's, it's interesting that you say that, too, Mike, because we, what we've discovered after extensive research, that all the big things are made up of thousands of little things. >> Thousands of little things. Exactly. >> Is, nothing's just, suddenly,a big thing, you know. Like, you went through the. The largest tornado. The most devastating tornado in the history of the United States. >> Yeah. >> And your success was [UNKNOWN] on the fact that every single one of your people, you had to do everything right. And, and were focused and going from one task >> Yup. >> To the next, to the next. Tell me how you handled the gas emergencies. Cuz those most have been scary as heck. Well, I could say from an EOC standpoint, we had a representative, which was Robert Harris from MGE who also had showed up in the Emergency Operation Center. We talked, with him. We set him up with a radio for direct communications with the center and. Every emergency that was reported was related to him for him and his crews, but of course they were overwhelmed immediately. >> Sure. >> Past that point we had other crews working at mass casualty here, multiple patient incident here, tracked victims. We literally also was, relied on some, So there's some rescue teams, certain teams, citizen volunteers, to go out and double check and make sure there wasn't an actual gas leak at that location, to confirm it, [CROSSTALK] >> You basically had 8,000 emergencies simultaneously. >> Exactly. >> Absolutely. >> And I get, watching one of the interviews on somewhere where the guys talked about it. This wasn't one incident. This was 8,000. Each person had their incident. Every hurt person is another incident. Every house is another incident. Every gas leak's an incident. >> Every down telephone pole. >> And yeah. And you almost have to prioritize it. I mean, I hate to say the nice thing about the tornado coming through, while it knocked out and we had gas leaks everywhere, it also knocked out all the ignition sources. >> Oh, good. >> So yeah, the major gas leaks that were a major concern. The gas company, we, we could prioritize it in the field and say like, you know, at St. John's, when they had that major gas leak there. We need somebody here. >> We, we found that one, we actually parked in that parking lot. [LAUGH] >> We're a part of that reporting system. There's a gas leak here allrighty. And that was a big one. Yeah. And if we can shut it off, we can shut it off out in the field. If not, you know is this killing somebody? Is this an immediate threat? If not, okay. We can get to that later, and we could call into the field to command and say, "Hey, I got a gas leak here," and these guys, I hate to see what it was down...like down there taking notes and. And things like that. Your gas leak, at 2223 Moffett, whatever it may be. Boom writing it down, and having it organized. But, we were able to do so, and then having that unified command, having all those representatives in there from Empire Electric, and Missouri Gas Energy, and Missouri American Water, and the fire department, police department, EMS. Having everybody in there. You know, MIMS [sp?], as much as some of us may cuss it, has it's purpose and the principles of it do work, especially that command system of you know, turn around. >> I think you need to be as versed in it as you possibly can. You need to be as eloquent in MIMS [sp?] as you possibly can. I think you need to understand. Level four and fives in the blue card system or whatever they're doing now, you know- - >> Yeah. >> - - that, that's I think that's a great system. And then everything builds on that, you know and you- - >> Right. >> --you have to understand that and if you can't operate at a type one incident, then you're really not any good to me. >> Right. >> You have to be able to operate on the fours and fives and the ones and twos- - >> Right. >> - - just as well. Even if you don't understand all the paperwork, as long as you understand that principle of it, that this is what I need to do to make this work, you can make it work. >> Right. >> Even if it's not exactly how they have it in the plan, we can make it work. Just like command. It may, it may, there's paperwork to track [CROSSTALK] >> And those, those type one team people are gonna help you with that paperwork. >> Exactly. >> They're gonna come in they got the experts that can line you out there. >> Yeah. >> But as long as you got the basic. Parameters set up, and you, you, have seen the paperwork, you, you've been through the, the courses, and you, and you know how it relates to it because getting logistics for an event this large, you know, after, after twenty-four hours is going to be daunting if you haven't, and a presidential visit. Did you get to meet the. Present when you came in? >> I did not. I was actually doing search operations. [CROSSTALK] >> I was actually in charge operations down the EOC. >> But that's important too. I mean you. >> Yeah. >> He comes and people need to know that the, that the. >> And then. [CROSSTALK] Yeah and they are very good about trying to make as minimal impact on us as they could. Which was great. >> What was amazing is we called from the get go [INAUDIBLE]. We knew we needed help right of the bat. We contacted FEMA, SEMA, Southwest Incidents Support Team, and literally we had personnel there within two hours of the incident. We're talking logistics, planning, everything associated with what we needed, our needs were set up and the first thing they said, "We're not here to take over.". We're here to supplement and help anything that you need to get this done. >> Only an idiot would have taken over. [LAUGH] >> They got us everything anything we needed and I will thank those guys till my, my dying day. >> Now did you did you did you look at your EOC now? And you've been through, a major a super major event. You've, g you've earned the CE credits. Would you change the setup in any way? Have you, have you looked in ta well this worked really well, this didn't work so, so well I've got the annexes in the right place, or the, the phones setup correctly and all that good stuff, did ya, did it work in, did it work the way you thought it was gonna work? >> I think it really did. I mean, for, something a this magnitude for something that >Um, our mercy management operator or director Mister Stanmer has done a good job of planning this and I think it worked as well as you could hope it would. >> It was literally right across the table, three feet away, it was public works who had access to all the heavy equipment. Across the table to, to right in front of us was law enforcement. At any moment we had an issue of any sort, we get a call. Have them take care of that issue. We had red cross set up behind them. Help. And we also had EMS behind us. >> And when you're from Joplin, you have great communications. And you have great relationships. And with [UNKNOWN] sister cities. The folks on Branson and the folks in Springfield and you foresee of created kind of a super plan there with the [UNKNOWN] and all that good stuff which is fantastic because those relationships, training is great relationships are greater. No, no one the guy have hey, Tommy, you know bring this or bring that you know,. [UNKNOWN] Come play. We need you. Talk about the, the communications just for a second if you will. Cuz I know that we're still battling with that in the fire service. >> Yeah. >> We're still struggling with my radio can't talk to your radio cuz I'm on this frequency or on that frequency. >> And we did have some of that. And I It helped that we had, we have the ability to crossband with Peters and do patches in our dispatches and all that stuff. >> Did they bring in one of those. For the life of me, I can remember what they're called, but they have a machine that can plug everybody in. You give them your radio. If you can get one of everybody's radios they can make them all work >> I don't remember if we did or not, I don't remember seeing one >> I think, maybe at the command center out to the high school command post and set that up for a brief time >> It has a, it has a name, it has a >> Yeah, I, I know exactly what you're talking about, you just take the radio, plop it in there, and it >> Ties everybody together. [CROSSTALK] Which is amazing technology. >> Yeah. >> You, you wonder why we can't just all have one of those. >> Right, my god. The money. >> [LAUGH] [CROSSTALK] Imagine that. >> Yeah, yeah, which is hard getting harder and harder to come by. >> Yeah. So are you going to do anything differently in training going forward, particularly for your guys as you two guys, you are it. >> I really just think what we need to do now is capture everything we have done. >> You write that article for fire engineering. >> There you go. >> And capture everything we have, get it on paper, get it. Everyone [UNKNOWN] everyone what they were doing, similar to what you're doing right here, we're in the process of getting everyone together, getting it on record and from that point on we're going to be able to make accurate [UNKNOWN] be able to see where we need to be see the big training gaps that we need to. To pursue, [CROSSTALK] >> We still yet to have, have a chance to do an after action review even on it, because you know [COUGH] life goes on and, it's one of those things, when it rains it pours, cuz you know after the tornado, we burnt about 40 some thousand dollar square foot building. Had a, as soon as we arrived fire through the roof. In the midst of that, we had in the middle, literally in the middle of this fire, we had to break guys loose to go rescue a volunteer out of a well. That fell into a well. We had a debris fire that burnt 0.23 houses worth of piled up debris. Wow >> So we had a, we didn't have a chance to slow down to do an after action review yet >> Wow >> It's just, the heats, the hits keep on coming >> Well you know what I saw when I was out there, I was watching the, the crews working with their hand tools. You know, and, and we have structural, cuz that's what we are primarily, structural firefighters. When you think about it, use of levers and pry bars and knowing how to make purchase points and how use, you know, cribbing properly to get a vantage. I mean, I can see a whole new realm of familiarization. About that. Like the San Francisco guys spend a huge amount of time in their training process about how to operate with levers and pulleys, because they're in San Francisco. And they know sooner or later they're going to have to do it by hand >> And that's one of the things I kind of, I've tried to, we've been trying to instill in our new kids is. That they start off, we start off really basic. Of, you know, here's the tools we use, here's how to use them. By the time they get out, one of the things that we stress to them is, we, you should understand the principles. You should understand that a halogen works this way, this way and this way so that. Yeah. We use a halgen to open a door, and we know how to do that, but at the same time we use those same principles in a structural collapse. It's like you're talking about. Using those, basic hand tools understand the concept of how those tools are used, and how can I take this tool and use it in this scenario? It's those little bitty basic things, not just that oh halgen's just open a door. the Haagen's a prime tool. It's a purchase-point tool, things like that. And recognizing I can use this tool to do this. And it's, it goes right back to what we were talking about earlier, going down to the very basic level and take, you know, instilling into these guys these very basic things, that here's the principle. It's not just pop it in there and twist. This is why, this is doing this and breaking it down. >> This is why you have to have your own knife, and your own pliers, and your own chalk, and all this stuff, your own rope, your own webbing, all this you put in your pockets. It's not there. For show it's there, yeah. >> What can I use it for and, ooh, I've got this, this'll do this. By the end of their four weeks when we really start putting them to the test we start seeing some of that, here's the task I've got to do, hey I can use this and make this easier or do it this way or this and that and we start seeing them. Think for themselves using these little many basic tools. >> We saw your guys out there >> That what we really had to keep with. >> With their webbing. They had their webbing over both their shoulders. And another guy prying up. It was great to see. It was really great to see. So what does Joplin need right now. What would help you guys out? I think [INAUDIBLE]. >> Actually three, you've got one [INAUDIBLE] >> [INAUDIBLE] training center >> [INAUDIBLE] more iPads out there for training [INAUDIBLE] and such electronically. So hopefully the Apple corporation is paying attention. I...that...that's a hard question really. I...you can think of things that would be great to have until somebody asks you. (Laughing). Right. You want... Until somebody says...it's like so what do you want for your birthday? Yeah. And not, nothing you think after your birthday, you know I wish I would have gotten that. >> A new bike would have been nice. >> Yeah, Stone, we talked the other day, that's part of those hits just keep on coming. We had a a fire at one of our big manufacturing plants. And it's something, it just hit us, it was a tractor, tractor trailer rig that caught fire at the loading docks. Thankfully it's a General Mills plant, so it's a pretty big facility. Thankfully they thought to shut the door, which kept the fire out of the building, but the ventilation end. And we're sitting there talking about man, this is, we use positive pressure here even on our initial techs in trying to figure out. Because we just recently. What three months ago? I think it was. >> How many fans do you need for a General Mills plant? >> Yeah. For, you know, the box stores and all that. Because we've had fires at box stores, and this is a problem we current, we run into. >> Right. >> How do we deal with it? >> You could get one of those MVUs, those mobile ventilation units. >> That's what popped up, is like. You know what? [CROSSTALK] we could use one of those. And looking back at how many times we could have used one over the past [CROSSTALK]. >> With those, is Chicago. [CROSSTALK] Yeah, they're doing a lot of great work with NVU. And a lot of other cities have used them. Dallas uses them [CROSSTALK]. High rise fires, pressurize those stair wells. Just like that. >> Yeah, and even the, you know, you got the listing nozzles on it and one of the things we looked at, he said mass rehab. We're getting ready to have a fourth of July thing and we're reaching those hundred degree temperatures, things like that. That, they're, you know, oh my gosh, there's potential in things like that and let's take this concept and what can we use that concept and I think that's one of the things Joplin. That I like to think we've always been good at is we can adapt things, adapt those principles and make it work for what we need it to work for. >> Well I think, I think that, what I think and, for what it's worth, from watching what I saw out there, day one. Was that you've got squared away people, you've got great leadership, you've got an incredible community. People have asked me, you know having been here, you know you think job. It's absolutely gonna survive. I think that area of town is gonna look somewhat different, you know? You're never gonna recapture that picturesque old 1940s or 50s neighborhood look. >> Right. >> It'll have more modern. Structures in it. But it's gonna come back. >> Yeah. >> I mean it's just too pretty a place. You know, this is, this is not a dagger through the heart of Joplin. This is too vibrant of a community. >> Right. >> And a lot of folks don't really understand how vibrant Joplin is. Because at night it's 50,000 people. We say 50,000 but in the day time it's 200,000. >> Yeah. >> And you two guys both work here but you're living in the, the [UNKNOWN]. And Joplin has a tremendous importance to the Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Missouri economies. And it's going to continue to. It's only 10 miles across the Oklahoma border and Arkansas' border is what, only 30? >> 30, 40 maybe. >> It's nothing. >> I always like to know that we're an hour from everything. We're an hour from Springfield, we're and hour from northwest Arkansas. Maybe two hours from Tulsa and Kansas City- >> Yeah, yeah. >> I mean, we get a lot of those outside places, comin' in- even as a kid growing up an hour from here, we always went to Joplin, you know, that was the closest big city to us, and we get a lot of that comin' into this town, and so- >> It's a beautiful city, it's just an absolutely gorgeous city, and it still is, people need to know that, too, Joplin is still a beautiful. Place to come and visit, and, you know mo, a third of it's been, devastated, but, I heard the home depot, is just about, back up. >> When I went by it, I can't just a couple days ago. They had the foundation cleaned off. That the Walgreens right in front of it is not- >> Walgreens? >> Yeah Wal- >> Walgreens is up? >> Yeah Walgreens up and I wouldn't be surprised if they're moving in shelves off it you know, today. >> And that's amazing. >> And I, yeah I, I didn't even, I forgot there was a Walgreens there and it's pretty new. >> Cuz it's right, it s, sets right in front. >> Yeah, cuz it hadn't probably been opened six months and the other days went. Well, holy cow, there's a Walgreen's there. >> Well, that whole, that whole, that whole area is probably ten, maybe ten years old, right? I'm mean that whole area, all that, those new shopping centers up there and the big sports place and >> Yeah, the Academy, Academy, >> Academy Sports. >> It was, It's been built since I've been here, at least. Probably the last three, four, five years. Home Depot's pretty new. >> Well, that's what I'm talking about too. Usually when you go to the collapsed [INAUDIBLE] and it's one type of building. You guys went to everything from a type 1, to all the way to, you know, 1930. >> Yeah, you know dealing with a different type of tilt over constructions, like Home Depot and the. Block with wide span, long span trusts like Wal-Mart, the you know, the ordinary construction like a Walgreens, the residential construction. Yeah we've, a little bit of everything. >> [CROSSTALK] Was it anything that withstood the power, of that wind in this path? >> No. no. Anything directly in the path, it, nothing really held up well. >> I'll tell ya, you know,as a, as a training publication and an FDIC in Fire Engineering, listening to you two guys talk, reconfirms everything we believe, that, the main interest in the fire service is training. Because it's, it's training that got you through, May 22nd. ... >> Right. >> And 23rd and 24th. It, it wasn't, you know, dedication (which is important, and passion, and all that other good stuff), it, it all falls back (and we laughed about this in the beginning, but), it all's (all was) based on your training. >> Right. >> And, and you can never. [INAUDIBLE] There was some good friends of mine in the department buddy of mine runs a department back east, said he was getting complaints from some of his guys because they were doing too much training. >> You can't. >> Not in this profession. >> No. >> Not in this profession. >> Cuz when you look at something like this, you've got the structure fires that we do, that we had to deal with. So you're using all that firefighter training, you're using your rescue training, you're using. >> Extrication training. >> P-M-S training. >> Yeah, your extrication, your rescues. >> You, you were extricating people from cars. >> Yeah. >> That were crushed in ways that nobody ever imagined. >> Yeah, I a cars on top of cars, there were cars on top of roofs. >> Wrapped around buildings. >> Wrapped around trees, I mean. Yeah it was the ultimate, lets take everything we do. Hazmat, fire, EMS, and rescue, and let's just throw the dice and throw it across town. >> All right. >> And you would of thought. >> And you use every little thing. >> And you would of thought that someone or some of the firefighters in the crews would have been overwhelmed when they first stepped out and saw this but, not every, not any of them. They went to each call, they went to each incident they were assigned to, they cleared it. >> Oh, that's what we saw. You're exactly right. The professionalism was unbelievable. Just the level of integrity and the level of just focus, dedication, and discipline. I mean, these people, it was the greatest example of, there's a great book out by a guy named Pete Blabber, who is a delta force guy. And it's called the mission, the men, and me. And that's what you saw here. It was the mission. It was try to save as many people as we could save. Try to restore as much order as we could restore. Working for the citizens of Joplin. Then it was taking care of the men. And that's what you two guys were doing, and chief Perkins was doing. You know, that's what was going on there. And then it was about you. >> Right. >> When you talk about your bos whose house is gone, his family is living in his office and yet he's right there. Boom boom boom. >> [INAUDIBLE] And making- - it's little things you don't even realize until afterwards. >> And he's more concerned about you all than anything else. >> Yeah, and it goes up. Yeah, because you know we're out there making sure the guys out there get rest and realize. It's Tuesday night, you know what, IO haven't had a lick of sleep yet >> You guys epitomize the mission, the men, and then me, cuz it was a, it was truly on of the great moments in America that have been surrounded by tragedy, Pearl Harbor, 9/11, and now we have May 22nd in Joplin where. Men and women like yourselves stepped up and said my community needs me and here I am. >> Also, I never want that to have happened but. >> No if you, if you, if you, if you want to look at an example of American exceptionalism like you [INAUDIBLE] said there it was and you know and it's going to continue to be and that's why [INAUDIBLE] I think the downside for Joplin is that you're gonna [INAUDIBLE]. Probably in 50 years they'll get a lot more Joplin. Because people are gonna want to live with this kind of people. People are gonna want to be part of this kind of environment. This is, this is the heart of America. And you guys are beating strong, and you're still beating strong. And on behalf of all the firefighters out there. We're, we're just so proud that to have guys like you being such a shiny example. What real professionalism is all about and doesn't mean if you career or volunteer, everyone out there was a real professional. And, and they came from all around and we just thank Mike for [CROSSTALK]. We know how busy you are. Got better things to do than jaw bone. An old fireman though, we really appreciate, we really wanted to get your story out there, Scotty, you know, they couldn't have gotten a better guy in here, you fit right in, you're, you wouldn't know you weren't born and raised, cause you, you're, you're just, you're perfect for, for jocking. >> Even when I first came in, I don't know this kind of a nickname type thing. And he's going to kill me for this. His last name is Redshaw, and I'm Cranford, right. So throughout the entire incident, they called us Cranshaw. >> Cranshaw? The trading twins. I like that. You kind of look like bookends >> [LAUGH]. One team. >> You've got the same follicle impairment going. >> You guys are going to get me back on this one, I know it. >> We'll leave it. So we've got the Crenshaw twins. Make sure we keep that in. >> That's terrible. >> Well thanks again for spending some time with us. We sure do appreciate it. Appreciate it. And if there's anything we can do for you, please reach out and let us know what it is, and we'll make sure we get it out there to everybody. Hopefully we'll see you both out there at FDIC. >> Hopefully. >> We'd love to have you as our guest. [MUSIC]

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  1. Week in Review: February 22, 2013

    Bobby Halton discusses some recent fire news, including the deaths of two firefighters at a hall fire in Bryan, Texas.