MEMPHIS, Tenn. — More than 100 members of Memphis-based Tennessee Task Force One rolled back into town Wednesday evening after a three day mission hundreds of miles away in tornado-ravaged Indiana.
“Three days of grueling work,” said task force member Peter Fischer.
There, task force members saw collapsed buildings, people trapped in elevators and made numerous rescues. Only none of it was real.
They were at Muscatatuck Urban Training Center for a pre-planned training exercise.
“If we make mistakes, this is where we want to do it, so that we can learn from it, so when we go out, we’ve got it together,” said task force member Amanda Bowen.
The task force trained with helicopters, K-9s and boats alongside search and rescue teams from as far away as Australia and Israel. They did practically everything they would do during an actual disaster.
“We had to cut through half-inch plated steel to get to one victim and then continue on to another victim,” said Kirk Lock, who led the task force.
For Fischer, whose day job puts him in charge of the trauma center at Regional One, the experience provided some important lessons.
“Not only does it actually help us, obviously at times of disaster, but really it helps us take care of patients here at home better,” Fischer said.
The last actual disaster the task force responded to was Hurricane Michael last October.
Lock said they try to do training exercises at least once every three years.