With one of the first major severe storm outbreaks across the South very possible today, it seems more than appropriate to look back on how far we have come in dealing with severe weather outbreaks and disasters.
On the afternoon of March 18, 1925, one of the worst tornadoes in the history of the United States devastated parts of Missouri, Illinois and Indiana. The tornado, reported at times to be at least one mile wide, traveled 219 miles through the three states in 3 hours, leaving 625 dead, 2,000 injured and at least 15,000 structures destroyed. It was a catastrophic event with a national impact. Kind of like that pesky New Madrid earthquake!
It seems like 93 years ago was prehistoric! When the tornado struck, there were no Skywarn spotters or networks, no live weather radar, no social media or 24/7 news channels and no GOES satellites. Responders had no interoperable communications, computer aided dispatch, amateur radio networks or NIMS!
There were no hydraulic rescue tools, fancy bladed saws, technical rescue or million dollar plus rescue trucks. There were no trauma centers, paramedics, medical helicopters, tactical tourniquets, or CPR, Until Help Arrives, or Stop The Bleed training. There was no cadre of trained volunteers like the Citizen Corps. It was just ordinary people facing an extraordinary event.
To understand where you are going, you must grasp where you have come from! No one agency can mitigate a tragedy like the 1925 tornado. Everyone needs to help one another. These types of catastrophic disasters of a national significance have not ended. Last year's hurricanes are a prime example, and the scope of hazardous materials, terror threats, earthquakes, severe weather, infrastructure failures, and transportation incidents are just laying in wait to cause havoc.
As responders, we must constantly look for challenging training opportunities, improved equipment, and seek new partnerships. In 1925, survivors did what they had to do with common sense, a spirit of helping neighbors and looking out for one another. When you think of it, those are some pretty good tools to have, even with the wonders of today's technologies.