Wednesday, July 6, 2011

JOPLIN - 29 Days After the Storm

On June 21, 2011 Chief Barlow and Brandon Blackwelder drove from the Skills USA National Conference in Kansas City, MO to Joplin, MO to tour and document the damage caused by the EF5 Tornado that ravaged the city just 29 days ealier.

The sights and smells, the crunching of powdered glass and wood, the total devastation and the items left behind were astounding. Nothing can prepare

you for having a boots on the ground experience like this. The photos and videos do not truly represent the devastation or the loss nor does it represent the spirit of the people who are rebuilding.
While there we were able to visit with the crew of Joplin Fire Department Station 2 that was on duty the evening of May 22, 2011 and had to remove the door of the Fire Station in order to get their reserve engine company out. The roof and wall had fallen on the primary engine company. These guys are operating out of two camping trailers along with the new Pierce Engine Company that was donated to replace the one they lost.

There were many photos that were Not Taken because to do so would be too painful for some or be in poor taste or disrespectful. As it is, this post has taken me a long time to prepare for and I plan to continue working on it throughout the summer. I have spent a long time researching and I have decided to put together a page on my personal website dedicated to Joplin

and the links that I feel really tell the story best.
That page will be linked here in the near future.

The Death Toll as of July 11, 2011 stands at 159 with 13 still missing.
Please Pray for the people of Joplin!
When we were there the Dusk to Dawn Curfew was still in place inside "The Zone"and all US flags were flying at half staff. Over the July 4th weekend, the flags were just raised to full staff.
This video gives a pretty good indication of the damage and the Lyrics match very well. The streets have no names - the names are literally painted on the pavement at the intersections.
I found this account of the events of the evening of May 22 from a Physician who is also a Stormchaser and who assisted at Freeman Hospital for the first 12 hours.

This is a Graphic account of the Storm and the injuries that it produced.
The Storm Doctor: First Response ModeMay 22 - Joplin

Samaritan's Purse Relief and Development

Friday, July 1, 2011

Skills USA National Leadership Conference - Kansas City, Mossouri

After the Awards Ceremony
The Seal on the Training Tower
In front of the KCFD Fire Academy

Tiller Truck Tractor

Tiller Cab

From the South

To the West Toward the NW

And Below the Crown Plaza

Chief Walker and Brandon's Family

Dragging Rescue Randy in the CPAT

Equipment Carry

The CPAT begins with the Stair Climb

Finishing up the Axe Raise

Figure 8 on a Bight in 6 secs.
The Confined Space Crawl

KCFD Academy From the Structural Collapse Training Area The Ladder and Pike Pole Push - Pull events

Engine Co. and 6 Story Tower and Burn Building

Briefing and CPAT walk Through

Let the Written Test Begin

The Welcome signs outside Bartle Hall and the Techspo

The street is becoming full of the more than 16,000 atendees Where to begin? This has been a very interesting year with Skills USA. Attending the NC Career and Technical Education Conference last summer to learn all that could be learned about Skills USA, Starting a new Chapter, attending the Camp Dixie Fall Leadership Seminar, entering 3 recruits for the Regional and State Competitions, being asked to serve as the State Chairperson (Coordinator) for the State Firefighting Competition, having recruits place 2nd, 6th, and 7th in the state contest, getting the call to have Brandon Blackwelder represent North Carolina at the National Conference, Training with Brandon at Concord Fire and Life Safety Station 3 in the CPAT, securing funds to make all this happen, and finally - Flying out to Kansas City after just returning from the Southeastern I-Chief's Conference in Montgomery, Alabama the night before and settling in for the week long conference and competition.
In the National Competition Brandon was one of 36 contestants including 25 High School and 11 Post Secondary or College contestants. Brandon received maximum points for the CPAT, Donning of Structural Turnout Gear, Ropes and Knots, and had a great CPAT time of 8:52 mins. Overall Brandon placed 19th out of the 25 High School competitors with a score of 91.80%. The areas that kept him out of the medals was the Written Test and the Interview. We will know what we will need to work on for next year with him and all of our other recruits. On the way home from the State Competition in April the goal was set to have at least the top 5 places in NC on the stage next year and that means a repeat to the Nationals as well.

The written Test was held in Bartle Hall at the main Skills USA conference site on Tuesday morning. On Tuesday after the written Test, Chief Barlow and Brandon drove the 140 miles to Joplin, MO to survey and document the Tornado damage. (Next Blog Entry) The other portions of the competition were held at the Kansas City, MO Fire Academy in North Kansas City on Deramus Road beginning on Wednesday morning.

The Training Division of the Kansas City Fire-Rescue Department could not have been more professional and accomodating. The stations for the Turnout Gear donning, Rope and Knot skills, and Interviews were set up, numbers were drawn to determine the order of testing and because Brandon's Mother, Brother, and Grandfather were flying in to see the event, Brandon was permitted to be the last candidate to complete his CPAT.
When it was realized that his family would be arriving later than expected due to delayed flights, Chief Tommy Walker - Chief of Training, arranged for a Fire Department car to pick the family up at the airport and bring them directly to the Fire Academy and got a member of the Fire Department media staff to videotape Brandon's CPAT for him. Brandon's family was able to see him run his CPAT and became good friends with the members of the Training Division especially Chief Tommy Walker. Chief Walker invited Brandon and the family to return on Friday and drive the rear of the 100' Tiller Truck. You will be able to see in the photos just how wonderful these fine professionals are.

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