First responders ready for possible tornadoes

ST. LOUIS COUNTY - Some local emergency rescue teams are bringing in extra staff for Thursday's chance of severe weather. With all local fire departments, if the weather gets severe they will call for back up.

The images can stick with us and the emotions are hard to forget.

"After the first tornado, the Good Friday one, I really started to take them more seriously," said firefighter Mark Barnhart. He has worked some serious situations, including the Good Friday tornado in 2011.

Pattonville Battalion Chief Corey Irelan says thankfully getting help while working a crisis is getting easier.

STORY: More storms overnight, severe weather expected Thursday

"We have a lot more state agencies and local government help that we didn't have before, we can activate the emergency operations center," said Irelan.

He says the St. Louis-area has five Strike Teams, made up of first responders that will be used for things like search and rescue. During days where severe weather is expected they change their pace, anticipating their next call.

"Try to clear the scenes a little quicker than normal and be prepared to take another run," said Irelan.

Barnhart says even when he knows severe weather is coming, it's not easy to prepare.

LINK: Download the First Alert Weather app

"You just come into work, you check your equipment and you are ready for whatever comes in," said Barnhart.

Battalion Chief Irelan says they are all professionals, but sometimes it's not easy to separate your work from your own life.

"It's more personal when you know there's children there, because you have some of your own, so the older you get those things start to hit home with you," he said.

One good tip Chief Irelan shares, be sure to know some phone numbers that are stored in your cell phone or write them down. In case you lose your cell phone, you want to be able to contact family.


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