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Local, state agencies practice life-saving skills in wake of Oklahoma tornado

Posted at 2:09 PM, May 21, 2013
and last updated 2013-05-21 14:09:57-04

CHESTERFIELD, Va (WTVR) -- In the wake of the deadly and destructive tornado that hit Oklahoma Monday afternoon, a disaster drill took place in Central Virginia Tuesday morning.  The exercise was designed to give the more than 15 agencies a chance to practice potentially life-saving skills.

"It's very similar to what we would do for a real response," Bob Spieldenner with the Virginia Department of Emergency Management said.

The local, state and federal agencies went through real-life scenarios during the mock disaster drill.

"You never know what Mother Nature is going to bring us," Spieldenner said.  "This helps us prepare because you never know what's going to happen."

The disaster drill simulated a 6.8 magnitude earthquake--a type of disaster that could result in a similar scene to what happened in Oklahoma.

"You should theoretically be able to handle any type of disaster using the same general principles," Virginia Secretary of Public Safety Marla Graff Decker said.

It is a theory that was put to the test Tuesday as military crews, transportation officials, IT specialists, FEMA and even agricultural experts took part in the mock disaster drill.

"It enables us in a scenario where real lives are not at stake and where real property is not damaged, to practice things to see if it will work--so that we know in the event that we do have a real disaster," Secretary Decker said.

The disaster drill is expected to last several days.