One of the most devastating natural disasters to hit Kansas in recent history, the 2007 Greensburg tornado tested the readiness of emergency responders across the state and taxed the resources of firefighters, EMS personnel and law enforcement.
Newton Police Chief Jim Daily said it also was the event that brought about the creation of LEAD, short for Law Enforcement Assistance Deployment, a regional law enforcement partnership that enables different police departments in the South Central Homeland Security Region to share personnel and equipment resources during a disaster.
Daily was impressed by the way the regional EMS partnership known as MERGe, the Major Emergency Response group, was able to respond to the Greensburg disaster.
“They seemed to be much, much better organized than law enforcement seemed to be in the past,” he said.
This is not to say law enforcement was not effective, Daily said — they simply saw the benefits of creating a more structured partnership for providing back-up during major catastrophes.
“We felt it was necessary ... to try and follow the example set by MERGe and also by FORCe (Fire Operations Response Coordination group) and organize ourselves.”