Mission 2012 is disaster training for first responders

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - It looks like a huge MASH unit -- something you'd see near a war zone or immediately following a disaster.

There's a reason for that.

"We take this stuff very seriously," said Roger Hovis with The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control office of Public Health Preparedness.

Hovis spent a year planning Mission 2012. Usually he and his team plan for things like hurricanes or earthquakes -- mass casualty events that could overwhelm first responders.

"What you see the guys and gals doing is helping set up, the same situation, same infrastructure, that we'd set up at the South Carolina State Fair or the Carolina Coliseum, in the event of a mass disaster," said Hovis.

"During a regular disaster, these same people are going to be out in the field working with us," said Howard Lederfind.

He is running the City of Columbia's Communications trailer and memorizing faces.

"We get to know the people, we get to know the faces," said Lederfind. "When something happens we're familiar with the operations."

"It's real world," said Major Linda Warren with the South Carolina State Guard. "You can practice and train and pretend all you want, but this is real."

Warren and the South Carolina State Guard are another group deployed for what amounts to real world training.

The throngs of patients probably won't realize that a team of people is preparing for the worst.

"We're just the people on the outside that makes sure they got what they need to keep things going," said Warren.

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