All that certainly helps, but Friday night’s Mishawaka evacuation was a rare hands-on lesson which emergency responders will be studying for quite some time.
“This is one thing that we’re definitely going to learn from, taking the good things that we did well and making them better and taking the bad things that we can improve and making them good,” said Lt. Derron Hess of the Mishawaka Fire Department.
It's safe to say most of the firefighters and police working the streets Friday night had never evacuated an area that broad.
“This is definitely a first for me,” said Hess.
The Mishawaka Fire Department and other first responders plan to meet some time in the coming weeks to critique themselves and review their evacuation response, Hess said.
“I’m sure we made some mistakes and I’m sure people are going to question us about a few things, but overall the guys did a very good job,” he said.
Among the challenges they faced -- dealing with infants and the elderly, family pets, and evacuees who left critical items, like medications, at their homes.
The Red Cross has a little more experience with these situations. In fact, some of their local volunteers had just returned from a deployment to Louisiana where they were helping people displaced by hurricane Isaac.
They too plan to hold a debriefing this week.
As for people like Jean Martin, who returned Saturday morning to her home near the Baycote facility, the evacuation, while inconvenient, was mostly smooth.
“I think they did a really good job and they answered all the questions that I had,” she said.