Greenville, N.C. — About two dozen emergency response agencies from across North Carolina are practicing how to rescue people trapped in vehicles, buildings and trees as part of hurricane preparedness training.
When Hurricane Floyd struck in September 1999, dozens of search and rescue teams were scattered across the state. Skill levels and capabilities varied widely.
"The challenge from Hurricane Floyd was that not all the teams had the same type of training,” said Julia Jarema, public-information officer at the Department of Crime Control and Public Safety.
To help improve training, crews are participating in a three-day disaster training course in Greenville. Tasks involve urban, swift water and helo-aquatic rescue teams.
"If we have flooding again in the east, like we did following Hurricane Floyd, we can pull those teams from the mountains and send them down so that they can help the teams from eastern North Carolina,” Jarema said.
"This is awesome. This is a great learning experience for all our agencies,” said Lt Greg Hardee, with Greenville Fire/Rescue.
The teams "rescued" flood survivors on Thursday from the former Pinecrest Mobile Home Park. The area was flooded during Hurricane Floyd.
"The only thing they are looking for is to be saved. So they are going to be grabbing, jumping for you,” said Josh Johnson, with the Charlotte Fire Department.
Simulations were also held at the Greenville Fire/Rescue training site. Participants said the drills help prepare them for real-world challenges.
"This is really close to the real thing,” said rescue team member Jamey Moss said.
"Now, knowing and learning from our past, we know we will be better prepared for the next event,” Hardee said.
The N.C. Division of Emergency Management and the city of Greenville sponsored the training.