Velma tests its emergency preparedness - KSWO 7News | Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Velma tests its emergency preparedness

Velma_One man injured - tanker trucks on fire - a blaze at a gas plant.  It's not what you think, though.  It was part of Velma's disaster drill.  Altus Pipeline Mid Continent wanted to make sure they were prepared for an emergency.  An Atlas employee placed a 911 call just after 9am and within minutes, the Velma Volunteer Fire Department, EMS and local police rushed to the scene.

The drill went well considering that all the components of the drill were mostly real.  7News was on the scene and could see what appeared to be smoke but were told that it was in fact a mock fire.  Velma Police, first responders, EMS and several fire engines raced to the Atlas Gas Plant.

Volunteer Firefighter Casey Hays says this is the second chance he has been able to respond to a drilled emergency and he's glad they're holding it.  "It's a rush.  You have to communicate with a lot of different people, different agencies to help you out and we have had lots of cooperation from ATLAS to go in and do out job," he says.

Atlas Gas Plant employees say they have a disaster drill every year, but this year they have informed all emergency agencies to see how well they can respond.  The demonstration was planned to make them safer. 

Oil processing plants may seem scary for potentially dangerous situations, which is why it's a priority for ATLAS to prepare with a plan for the public, employees and first responders - and put their teamwork to the test.  "Anytime you go through one of these drills you have different scenarios were the outcomes are going to be different," says Manager James Branscum.  "The response time? I was expecting quick but I was amazed by the timeliness they got here to do what we need to do," he said.

And, this time there was a difference.  Firefighters had to call in for more help because they couldn't get the fire out.  "A response plan is really good to have.  Anything could happen and something could go wrong. It's good to have a plan with what you are supposed to do," says Hays.  Neighbors nearby watched.  They said that they felt like they were in good hands seeing these agencies in action working together.

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