Redstone Arsenal conducts tornado drills to stay ready for severe weather

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REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. (WHNT) -- Shortly after 9:30 a.m., Tuesday,  the tornado sirens started to wail. Employees gathered in their safe places and the crisis management team flocked to the emergency operations center.

Thankfully, it was all only a drill, but one that Redstone Arsenal officials say is crucial.

"Tornado is our number one threat to the Arsenal," said Chief of Plans and Operations Timothy D'Ambrosio. "We actually do two exercises per year."

Team Redstone performed these full-scale exercises as if a tornado truly had hit the base, complete with an at-the-ready crisis management team and emergency personnel disaster response teams.

While many of Tuesday's drills were familiar routines, officials also tested some fresh technology.

"We're working on new software products that allows us to communicate with all the ten organizations simultaneously," said D'Ambrosio. "They don't have to call here to ask us what's going on. They're getting those updates right now live."

The exercises may sound or look extreme, but he said they are done with the ultimate goal of keeping employees safe.

"We want to make sure that we protect everyone on the Arsenal. We want to make sure that at the end of the day we get them to go home to their loved ones."

The preparedness exercises will continue Wednesday. Officials will focus on the recovery phase after severe weather strikes, including opening a mass care facility and a family assistance center.