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Lawton firefighters recall Moore devastation

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LAWTON, Okla._Just four hours after the deadly tornado swept through Moore, forty Lawton firefighters were there to help in the search and rescue effort. One year later, two of those firefighters remembered what it was like.

For Assistant Fire Chief, Ray Collins, it was the second time he'd been called to Moore to help in the aftermath of a tornado; he says this one was definitely worse.

"The devastation was just unbelievable. There really was no describing it. The pictures, you can look at all day long but actually being there and seeing the stuff first hand, it's disturbing," said Collins.

Training officer, Jared Williams says when they got to Moore that day there was damage as far as you could see.

"When you start looking at someone's home and finding complete vehicles on top of a three story medical complex. Where the wind and power of the tornado has picked them up and put them on top of the hospital," said Williams remembering the destruction.

Collins says they train constantly, but you can never be prepared for what they saw in Moore.

"When we received our first assignment, which was to search the hospital and bowling alley area. As you know those areas were a total loss. So the devastation was complete," said Collins.

"How do they start picking up pieces and how do we start helping them to do the best job that we can so that we can help the citizens of Moore start to recover," said Williams.

They spent around ten hours searching for victims. Two days later, Williams was sent back as a safety officer for the instant command team. He says he was impressed by the work of all of our first responders.

"From a training point of view, they did everything we are supposed to do. And as a training officer it was really cool to sit back and say, ‘you know we did our job right.’ Our responders are trained, our firefighters in Lawton, I would through them up against anybody," said Williams,

Collins and Williams both said that since they have both helped in the aftermath twice, they hope to never have to do it again.

"You never want to go to these types of incidents but you know you have to. You know, it could be in Lawton next time and we're going to rely on those folks just like we did them," said Collins.

Both firefighters said when they responded to last year's tornado they felt better trained and better equipped than in the years past. They are confident that all of the first responders in Lawton are prepared to take action if something like this happened again.

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