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Agencies gather for important safety training


Staff Writer

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It takes training to save a life.

On Friday August 6, emergency agencies throughout the region received their needed training on lifesaving techniques for search and rescue.

Various lifesaving crews in Northeast Tennessee participated in a District 1 emergency management capabilities exercise at the Appalachian Fair Grounds in Gray.

“All upper eight counties are here,” Jamie Miller, Hawkins County Emergency Management Agency director said. “The team strives to work together as an incident management team to make sure we are prepared.”

Rusty Sells, EMA director for Washington County said, “We control the chaos from here. There are different stages; what, how, numbers, logistics and tactics.”

The tents the agencies work out of are set up like a mobile command, so the information comes from a single source to the media.

“It’s all about communication and making contacts,” Miller said.

This year, Johnson City Fire Department’s new swift water rescue team was there to educate on this type of capability.

“We can use this if there’s a hurricane and we need to rescue objects or people in flooding,” said Johnson City Fireman, Johnathan Royse. “We do this exercise because it’s the big picture of everything. It benefits everyone.”

In addition, members of the U.S. Air Force were in attendance to show how radio and microwave transmissions can be used for contact when all communication is down, using a mobile capacity called Joint Incident Communication Capability (JISCC).

“It provides communication in a natural disaster, such as phone service,” said Samuel Connaster, Senior Master Sergeant of the 119 Cyberspace Operations Squad. “We crossband different radio frequencies if folks are on different frequencies so they can talk to each other.”

Agencies in Northeast Tennessee that participated were Sullivan County emergency management, Washington County, TN emergency management, Carter County emergency management, Unicoi County emergency management, Hawkins County emergency management, Bristol, TN Fire Department, Johnson City Fire Department, Kingsport Fire Department, Kingsport Life Saving Crew, Washington County Sheriff’s Office, Washington County/Johnson City EMS, as well as the National Guard.