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Schools, Hospitals Prepare for Severe Weather in Wake of Tornado Outbreak

From schools and hospitals to the city of Abilene, everyone has a plan in place. <br>But it's not just about having protocols and procedures -- A lot of it just comes down to practice.
With nearly 4,000 people coming through the doors of Hendrick Medical Center every day, the hospital has to have a plan in place in case of emergency -- including severe weather outbreaks.

"You want to be as ready as you can," said Clinton Taylor, the Safety & Emergency Management Officer at Hendrick. "Even if the hospital gets affected, we want to be able to still try to operate in some fashion because we are still going to have casualties out there."

The hospital has a designated emergency management room, where Taylor and others can keep a close eye on any threats.

"We have direct contact with the city of Abilene emergency management operations office and first-responders, constantly listening on the radios," he explained.

The hospital goes into a "monitor" status when severe weather hits -- something they have done several times in the past few weeks whenever tornado warnings move into the area.

And if it escalates...

"We would declare a 'Code Brown,'' Taylor said.

That would mean taking real action -- like funneling patients into the interior parts of the hospital or possible evacuations -- something they have not done in recent memory.

"But we do exercise that on a regular basis," Taylor said.

With more than 400 students at Jane Long Elementary, from kindergarten through fifth grade, there are a lot of lives at stake.

"Many people think they can't handle it," said principal Michael Garcia. "Well, they can handle it, they know exactly what to do."

Garcia walked us through their tornado drill Tuesday afternoon, which varies from campus to campus, but keeps the same idea -- stay away from windows and high ceilings and get to a place where you can duck and cover.

"They know they'll line up here along the walls, and these walls are pretty secure," Garcia demonstrated in a hallway.

And while they're only required by law to have two tornado drills a year, they actually have one every month or every other month.

"We do them frequently because like anything else, the more you drill, the better you get at it," Garcia said.

And as we've all learned -- it pays to be prepared.
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