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Emergency responders prepare for severe weather

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ELLISVILLE, MO (KTVI)-- Local emergency management operations brought in additional staff in anticipation of the severe weather Thursday.  Metro West Fire Protection District in Ellisville activated its emergency operations center in the basement of a fire house.  Central County Emergency 9-1-1 Dispatch switched to an 'incident command'  protocol to be prepared to handle multiple emergency calls in a short period of time.

Both agencies want to be proactive.  Lessons learned from the tornado in Joplin and several recent ones in the St. Louis area including the tornado that struck Lambert Airport have helped managers change procedures and increase efficiency.

Michael Turner, Executive Director of Central County Dispatch credited the increased accuracy of meteorologists who are able to better predict the weather.
'We knew yesterday this was going to happen,' Turner said.  'Years ago we knew it might rain or storm, but now they are getting very efficient at knowing what storms are going to come and what the storms are going to be.'

Metro West Fire District staff has been monitoring the rainfall over the past few days and anticipated there would be a need for some high water rescues.  Thursday afternoon commanders reached out to nursing homes and senior living complexes to be sure emergency plans were in place.

Metro West Deputy Chief John Bradley calls the approach 'leaning forward.'  'It`s a newer model for us.  We want to deliver the service we`ve promised to our citizens.'  The operations command center provides department leaders with weather radar, a constant update of emergency calls and staffing levels.  They have the latest in communication equipment and all the department`s facilities have generators to provide back-up power.