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Several emergency vehicles will make their way through Duette Wednesday. Here’s why

After Irma, Manatee County practices emergency response in the field for the first time in a decade

After Hurricane Irma, Manatee County emergency response officials held their first "boots-on-the-ground" drill in Duette in nearly 10 years.
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After Hurricane Irma, Manatee County emergency response officials held their first "boots-on-the-ground" drill in Duette in nearly 10 years.

A convoy of emergency and first responder vehicles will have lights and sirens on as they drive to through Duette, all as part of a planned training exercise Wednesday.

First responders from Manatee County Emergency Management, EMS, Sheriff’s Office, Emergency Communications, Fire Chiefs’ Association, several fire departments, Bradenton police, Manatee Memorial Hospital, electric companies and multiple other agencies are expected to participate in a simulated tornado-incident training exercise. It’s aimed to prepare responders for a similar local or out-of-the-area response.

In 2018 and again in 2019, the fictional town of Mosaic will be struck by a hurricane and Manatee County officials will be sent to the scene.

The convoy of emergency vehicles will leave the Manatee County Public Works building at 1022 26th Ave. E. in Bradenton for Duette Preserve near State Road 62 Wednesday morning with lights and sirens on.

Doing so is actually part of the training, in order to make sure traveling in a convoy is safe for the responders and residents, said Emergency Management Acting Chief Steve Litschauer.

After last year’s training and sending local first responders to help with the aftermath of Hurricane Michael, Litschauer said they learned how difficult traveling in a convoy can be if there is a vehicle breakdown, even with a police escort. This year, they have incorporated a simulation of a vehicle break-down into Wednesday’s training exercise to help them prepare for future convoys.

The training will begin around 11 a.m. and expected to last until approximately 4 p.m.

Litschauer expects dozens of agencies and more than 100 people to participate.

“You do not find that in many places, that you have that many people working together, training together, with the goal of helping the citizens,” Litschauer said.

The event comes just two months prior to hurricane season, and was done for the first time in 2018 because of Hurricane Irma in 2017.

The public safety department recognized the need to increase their response and in April 2018, Manatee County officials performed the first “boots-on-the-ground” emergency response drill in more than a decade, LItschauer said at the time.

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