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MOTSU responds during tornado: mutual aid program provides surrounding communities with excellent fire and rescue services.

After a deadly tornado ripped through a small North Carolina community early in the morning of Nov. 16, killing eight people and injuring another 24, Military Ocean Terminal, Sunny Point Fire Department's Dive Rescue & Recovery Team responded to a Mutual Aid request from the Incident Commander (IC) in Rieglewood.

The IC requested a boat and divers for possible victim recovery operations at around 8:30 a.m. following the 6:45 a.m. touch down. Sunny Point Fire Department responded to the scene with four members of its Dive Rescue/ Recovery Team, a 19-foot rigid inflatable boat, side scan sonar and other required dive equipment.

"The team arrived on scene at 9:50 a.m. and reported to the IC that they were operational and the type of equipment and resources available," said Fire Chief Scott Brown, Military Ocean Terminal, Sunny Point.

"The team was put on standby while a land search was being conducted. Our team was told that if any victims were unaccounted for, the team would be utilized for dive operations to perform a water search for remaining victims."

Brown said that thankfully they did not require the team's services and they were released from the incident after all victims had been accounted for. Although the Sunny Point Dive Team was not utilized during this large incident, MOTSU's aggressive Mutual Aid program has provided the surrounding communities with excellent fire and rescue services for many years. Such services include fire protection and prevention, ambulance service, dive rescue and recovery and hazardous materials response, just to name a few.

On average, the MOTSU fire department answers approximately 1,000 calls a year. In fact, Brown noted that the fire department is the only professionally trained, full-time fire department in Brunswick County.

The Department of Defense encourages installations to engage surrounding communities in Mutual Aid Agreements. These agreements are beneficial to both the communities and DoD installations, and can go both ways. Since most installations have limited manpower during the initial moments of an incident, they can call on the local community first responders to assist. In addition, local communities may have specialized fire and rescue equipment and apparatus which installations like MOTSU can utilize during emergencies on government property.

"These agreements can save taxpayer money, and local communities benefit as well. In fact, during the tornado emergency Sunny Point was the only dive team available," added Brown.

by Lt. Col. Karen S. Conley

Public Affairs Officer, Ammunition Terminal Group (Provisional)
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Author:Conley, Karen S.
Date:Jan 1, 2007
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