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Franklin County first responders more prepared after April 27, 2011, tornado outbreak

Glass said since the tornado outbreak many volunteer fire departments in the county have upgraded their equipment.

Posted: Apr 27, 2021 4:57 PM
Updated: Apr 27, 2021 6:55 PM

Franklin County first responders told WAAY31 10 years ago, on April 27, 2011, they were not as prepared to handle the deadly tornado outbreak as they are now.

But they made do, and now have more equipment to use in saving you.

Blue Springs Volunteer Fire Chief Mary Glass said that day in Franklin County and Phil Campbell changed how they respond to crisis situations.

"It was devastating. We didn't have the equipment we needed to help these people. We needed backboards. We needed stretchers, but at the time we didn't have it," said Glass.

Glass said they had to act fast while saving lives on April 27th in Franklin County.

"We were doing makeshift stuff. I strapped a lady to a front door with bungee cords we found. That's all we had," said Glass.

Glass, like many other volunteer firefighters, didn't stop rescuing people despite the obstacles. She remembers the kindness of a local doctor who helped that day.

"He looked at me and said, Where are you getting all of these people from? And I said their houses. And he said here and he threw me some backboards and braces. The reality really set in when he gave me tags for when we ran up on the deceased," Glass said.

"The feeling you get, you're just devastated. Your seeing places you grew up around all your life. You know most of the people out there and you don't know if they are dead or alive but those emotions you have to put on the backburner.

As a volunteer she and others had a job to do and now she says after April 27th they raised money to get better equipment to help people.

"It took a devastation like that to realize we needed more first aid, we needed more backboards, we needed more equipment to go out and cut people out of their houses. Back then we had four chainsaws, today I have 14 so that way if something happens we can divide and conquer," said Glass.

Glass said they have upgraded their trucks, too, and without volunteers to run these stations help might take a while to get to you.

"Without volunteers you would have to wait 45 minutes to an hour to get help. All the volunteers are trained just as the paid firemen are," said Glass.

Glass said they can make all the upgrades in the world but without a dedicated group of men and women to answer that call it would be pointless.

If you want to sign up to help with your local volunteer fire department in Franklin County give the sheriff's office a call at 256- 332-8820. They will put you in touch with one of the volunteer fire chiefs.

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