Bracing for an EF5 tornado

Bracing for an EF5 tornado

Amarillo, TX - Tuesday, May 22 marked the one year anniversary of the deadliest tornado to hit the U.S. in six decades.

The Joplin tornado is a stark reminder that tragedy can happen anywhere at anytime. That is why the City of Amarillo has an emergency plan in place to prepare for the worst.

"Our fire, our law enforcement, our emergency medical services would all respond to the incident," The City of Amarillo's emergency management coordinator, Kevin Starbuck, explained. "... set up command and control, start working through the situation, start doing searches and rescues and helping people and doing all those things."

The City of Amarillo reviews the plan every year. A key step in the plan is communicating with local hospitals.

"If one of our hospitals was hit by a tornado, we could help facilitate the evacuation of that hospital to a hospital or other hospitals in that region using that medical hotline to help make that happen," Starbuck explained.

Last year, Joplin's tornado ravaged a local hospital and nearly ten years ago in Amarillo a hail storm tore up the southeast side of BSA Hospital, leaving shards of glass everywhere. That is why local medical centers, like BSA, make sure they have an emergency plan in place.

"We would definitely move our patients out of their rooms and away from windows, get them away from glass, to put them out in the halls or to move them to the basement depending on what the situation with the weather is," BSA Media Relations coordinator, Mary Barlow, said.

Even though the panhandle region has not seen an EF5 tornado in the past six decades, officials say it is always better to be safe than sorry.