Tornado strikes Joplin, Crawford County personnel respond
Area emergency responders from Crawford County headed to Joplin, Mo. to help with efforts surrounding a tornado that swept through the southern part of the city Sunday evening.
Crawford County EMS Director Joey Adams said that the county has sent four of its ambulances, with personnel, as well as the county's mass casualty trailer to Joplin to assist with what has been called "extensive damage" to the area.
"If we can break free, we will send a fifth as well," Adams said.
John Campbell, operations director for the Missouri State Emergency Management Agency, confirmed to the Associated Press that fatalities have been reported in Joplin, but he did not have an exact number or specifics late Sunday night.
According to reports, at around 6 p.m. a tornado touched down in the southern section of the city causing damage and creating debris.
In addition, Adams said that members of the Frontenac Fire Department, Baker Township Fire Department, Pittsburg Fire, Pittsburg Police, and Crawford County Sheriff's Department to help with damage and injuries.
"We are sending people," said Crawford County Sheriff Sandy Horton. "We aren't even waiting for calls, we are just getting crews ready and they are on the way."
He said that communication into Joplin was scarce and that personnel in Crawford County could not make contact with those in Joplin or Jasper County.
"Usually you want to wait for the command structure to take hold, but we can't get anyone in their communications center," Horton said. "We just told our guys to get to the first roadblock and ask for assignments and go where they are needed."
The Associated Press also reported that phone communication in and out of Joplin was "largely cut off." In addition, the AP reported that St. John's Regional Medical Center evacuated nearly 100 patients after the hospital was hit by the tornado. Cora Scott, a spokeswoman at the hospital's sister facility, told the AP that patients were taken to other hospitals.
The State of Missouri told the AP that it has activated more than 100 members of the 35th Engineer Brigade, which is based in Joplin, to help with search and rescue efforts, clear roads, provide security and help with radio communications.
The City of Joplin and Jasper County set up numerous triage areas for those who suffered serious injuries.
Adams said that county coverage by EMS will not be affected as no on-duty crews will be called to assist.
"We will keep our three ambulances that are on-duty here in the county," Adams said. "County services will not be affected."
The Joplin tornado came one day after a tornado struck the town of Reading, near Emporia. State officials confirmed on Sunday that one person was killed in that storm and several homes were destroyed.
Late Sunday night, Gov. Sam Brownback announced that he and members of the Kansas Congressional Delegation will be in Reading Monday to meet with local leaders and residents.
The statement issued by Brownback's office said that Brownback will be briefed on the situation in Reading by Maj. Gen. Lee Tafanelli, Kansas Adjutant General and Director of the Kansas Division of Emergency Management. From there, the group will tour the town from the ground and the air.