Training the key to first responder success

JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - They go into situations most of us run away from.  First responders are always on the front lines, risking their own lives to save others.  Monday's explosion at Omega Protein in Moss Point was one of those instances for Jackson County's emergency teams.

Moss Point Fire Chief Tommy Posey knows the key to success in dangerous conditions.  "At least three days a week the men are constantly training in different areas of fire service, from explosions, car wrecks, extraction, all kinds of aspects of the fire services," Posey explained.  "So at least they are training in different situations to try and prepare them for situations like we had yesterday with an explosion."

When responding, the chief said adrenalin takes over.  "Well, it is an initial rush and once you get there it really boosts your metabolism up and you're going 90 miles an hour but the main thing is to calm down, evaluate the situation and make sure that everything is safe," Posey said.

Dealing with the injured and even the dead takes a mental toll.  Earl Etheridge is the Jackson County Emergency Services Director.  "Firefighters, police officers and emergency medical personnel deal with this every day, day in and day out, it never stops, it never goes away. and you've got to learn how to deal with this stuff," Etheridge explained.

So how will that be done?  "As a matter of fact, we are in the process, the county is in the process of putting together a training class with our local psychologists to provide how to deal with grief and emotions and stress," Etheridge said.

When first responders arrive at any scene, whether it's benign, or potentially deadly, they always have to follow one rule, one thing that makes absolute sense for one good reason, according to Etheridge.  "Scene safety, you have to take care of your people first. I know that sounds terrible but if the first responders go down, there's nobody there to take care of the scene."

Taking care of that scene is a job these men and women do very well.

Meanwhile, the Omega Protein Plant remains closed while officials with OSHA conduct their investigation into the cause of Monday's deadly explosion.

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