Inside the statewide tornado drill - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Inside the statewide tornado drill

WAUSAU (WAOW) -

In connection with Severe Weather Awareness Week, people took part in the statewide tornado drill on Thursday.

This was a test, but it was one Marathon County dispatchers take seriously.

"We're trained well and we're prepared for it so it's kind of second nature," said communications supervisor Tony Nardi. "We just do it and that's our jobs."

Five dispatchers worked together checking things off their list during the statewide tornado drill.

"Everybody takes a different task and we perform our task and we make sure that we get the sirens set off," said Nardi.

Dispatchers have no way of knowing where the storm could hit, so the alert is sent all over the county.

Since 1982, 35 tornados have been spotted in Marathon County -- the second highest in the state. Lincoln County -- the site of last year's big tornado -- had 14. People in Wood and Portage counties have seen about a dozen apiece. And in Adams County, 19 tornados have been reported in that time -- including one in 1994 where two people died.

Weather experts said drills like this help keep the number of injuries and deaths from storms to a minimum.

Besides blaring sirens, a weather alert hit the airwaves. It spread to hospitals, businesses and schools.

"Put your hands over your head so if flying particles, if they hit you, they won't damage your head at all," said Marshall Elementary School fifth grader Anders Aspenus.

Marshall Elementary principal Shawn Sullivan said students have been learning weather facts all week to prepare for the drill.

"I hope I never have to evacuate because of a fire drill in the school but I like to know that we've practiced it and the kids know and the staff members know how to get them out safely," said Sullivan.

"It really benefits, especially for the littler kids so if there actually is one, they know what to do and they're comfortable with it," said Marshall Elementary School 5th grader Olivia Schencel.

Emergency management leaders said the statewide drill is worth the time to help people stay safe.

Newsline 9 took part in that tornado drill. If you want to find more ways to keep your family safe in case of severe weather, you can click on this link.

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