First responders’ rapid response during dangerous storm saves lives

MCCRACKEN COUNTY, KY — First responders rush toward danger to protect those in its path. Thousands across our area were under threat during a strong storm Thursday that included a tornado.

Paducah Fire Chief Steve Kyle says the response Thursday involved careful coordination among all agencies across McCracken County. Paducah Police Chief Brian Laird and Kyle say after they secured the area, their departments relied on their training and other preparation to respond and save lives.

“We know ahead of time there’s going to be damage. We know we’re going to have to put ourselves in harm’s way to respond to that location,” Kyle said.

First responders out in the field say they relied heavily on communication with 911 dispatchers who answered your calls during the severe weather.

Laird says city agencies helped county agencies after securing the city. He says their training for and response to emergency calls throughout the year prepared them.

“We do training exercises for large-scale events — you know, table top exercises — but I think what truly prepares us for events like what happened yesterday is all of the smaller-scale events that we have dealt with working together as a team. We know the strengths and weaknesses of each individual agency, and we’re able to find the right personnel to fit the situation” Laird says.

He says: “I think it’s clear and evident we dodged a major catastrophe yesterday.”

Kyle echos that feeling, saying “I am very thankful the Lord blessed us yesterday.”

McCracken County Sheriff Matt Carter and Paducah-McCracken County Emergency Management Director Jerome Mansfield each say they were pleased with their teams’ efforts.

“It is by the grace of God we didn’t have multiple casualties or, at minimum, serious injuries,” Carter said.

“We had a very effective and coordinated local, state, federal, private sector response to this life-threatening tornado that worked to the benefit of everyone that was in McCracken County on March 14,” Mansfield says.

All the first responders who spoke with us say civilian preparation — paying close attention to to weather warnings, monitoring the weather, knowing a safe location to take cover in and actually going there when you need to — is something that ultimately helps them and could save your life.

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