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Hundreds of volunteers step in when disaster strikes

 SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Emergency response teams train year around for drastic emergencies.  When the jet crashed there was already a plan in place, and those involved say it worked well in this disaster.

When disaster hits and hundreds are under mandatory evacuation, panic and chaos can be the difference between life and death.

Volunteer response teams like American Red Cross and V.E.S.T. say precision and organization are key.

"It's preparation, you cannot prepare on the ground for where a plane is going to come down but everyone needs to practice their response to it." explains Doug Farmwald, Emergency Services Coordinator with the St. Joseph County Red Cross.

In massive emergencies, V.E.S.T. volunteers set up barricades and direct traffic.  On average they respond to about 15 calls a month.

"We train for all kinds of different scenarios certainly the impact of the jet crash is something that we trained for." says Joseph Humberger, St. Joseph County V.E.S.T.

Red Cross says they were just as prepared.  In fact, they ran drills at the airport about a year ago to make sure they would know what to do.

Farmwald explains that practice makes perfect, "There were some issues with communication, so the next step for us is pulling the team together and looking back saying what worked well?  What did we learn from this that will make next time better than this time."

At the end of the day, the volunteers say that what drives them is compassion.

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