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Okla. disasters mold training for disaster response


In the wake of the deadly shooting in Colorado, it’s hard to forget that Oklahoma is no stranger to disasters both man-made and natural.

That’s why local police, fire and paramedics all work together to handle incidents like the one in Colorado.

Back in August 1986, 14 were gunned down at a post office shooting in Edmond.

Then again in April 19, 1995, 168 were killed in the Murrah federal building bombing.

On May 3, 1999, 48 died in a massive tornado outbreak.

All events that reshaped how first responders deal with disaster in Oklahoma.

“Our officers are trained to act,” Oklahoma City Police Capt. Dexter Nelson said.

Starting with the bombing, law enforcement learned the key to any emergency response can be summed up with the words “teamwork and training.”

“Since the bombing incident, we’ve learned to train with other entities,” Nelson said.

“When you start to learn from these incidents, you learn how important preparation and readiness can really be,” EMSA paramedic Colin Roy said.

Roy said May 3 remains the largest single mass casualty event he ever worked.

“That stuff, you relive it. You think, how did I do this or that? That’s probably what people are going through today,” Roy said.

Still, the fact is the response to crimes like the bombing, or more recently, the 2007 shooting at Virginia Tech and again this week in Colorado, are different than natural disasters.

Yet in all those cases, proper training does save lives.

“The fact that we trained and prepared at the time doesn’t always make sense but once you get into a disaster, it just flows naturally,” Roy said.