Bootheel emergency agencies train with portable water purification unit as part of mock disaster drill

Emergency agencies in the Bootheel receive mock disaster training.
Published: May. 30, 2023 at 5:45 PM CDT|Updated: May. 30, 2023 at 6:27 PM CDT
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SOUTHEAST Mo. (KFVS) - Natural disasters can damage more than homes and businesses, they can also disrupt our water supply.

That’s why multiple agencies spent Tuesday afternoon, May 30 in Sikeston learning how to use a vital piece of emergency equipment.

More than a dozen first responders collect water from the pond at R.S Matthews Park in Sikeston.

They’re using a portable water purification unit as a part of a mock disaster drill focused on getting clean water as quickly as possible.

“It’s important whatever type of equipment or tools that we get in any first responder and emergency management situation that they’re tested periodically. That we know they work, how they are supposed to work and what the gaps are and what they do or don’t do,” said Butler County EMA Director Robbie Myers.

Myers said training like this is crucial for emergency management teams.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, flooding and other natural disasters can damage water wells and lead to contamination.

“If we don’t exercise with it, train with it, they it may not work when we need it,” said Ripley County EMA Director Lance Pigg.

He said learning to use this kind of equipment keeps his agency prepared and his community safe.

“Any of these tools that we have they could be needed at any time, and it makes our job easier and that we can help the people,” Pigg added.

In addition to getting hands-on training with the equipment, Meyers said the exercise also gives emergency responders a chance to build relationships with other surrounding agencies.

“We see them come together time and time again in real life situations, whether it’s floods or tornados or ice storms, our neighbors’ helping neighbors is an important part of the relationships we build here,” Myers said.

The water samples taken Tuesday will head to the state health lab in Jefferson City to make sure the water samples are safe to drink.