Disaster Drill at Fort Sill Helps Train Post Personnel

- As tensions grow in Iraq and the continued threats of terrorist attacks against the United States, officials at Fort Sill want to be prepared for any type of emergency.

Fort Sill Fire Department Chief Clint Langford says part of being prepared involves planning for the worst. On Wednesday morning, officials on post did just that as they simulated a realistic catastrophe.

A plume of white smoke, damaged cars, and dead and severely injured soldiers and civilians could be seen scattered across a large area of Fort Sill after a fuel tanker explosion on post. Fortunately, it's all part of the full scale exercise.

"This is one of those that we don't always get to see as far as real world," Langford says. "That's why we train extensively to prepare ourselves."

Lieutenant Colonel Rory Crooks, Directory of Strategic Communications for the Fire Center of Excellence on Fort Sill, says these types of drills are conducted every year and take months of planning. He says the exercises have to be taken very seriously as it gives people on post an idea of how they would handle a real emergency.

"Getting accountability of where our folks are at, are they safe, have they been notified to stay clear; that's what we first and foremost do and try and get better control of the situations so we can react appropriately," Lt. Col. Crooks says.

Lt. Col. Crooks says they are trying to get as close to a real world scenario as possible so the victims in this fuel tanker explosion scenario on post are also being sent to local hospitals to seek medical attention.

"We've tied up a lot of resources," Lt. Col. Crooks says. "We've put a lot of thought and planning into this and that is part of the intent is to make sure those that would wish to do us harm take notice of this as well."

It's a multi-agency preparedness plan they hope never to use but are certain that if they had to it would save lives. 

Langford says, "We have some very professional responders in this area and that's highly trained and motivated for this area so I'm very confident we could respond to something like this on post.

Fort Sill officials say the disaster drill lasted six hours and forced the closure of Sheridan gate and several streets on post but they have since reopened and they're calling the drill a success.

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