Tornado hits near Denver International Airport, but it's only a drill for emergency responders

If you see fire trucks, search and rescue teams and other emergency responders near Denver International Airport on Thursday, it's only a test.

Nearly fifty agencies at three locations in the Denver area are testing their response to a tornado -- DIA,  West Metro Fire Rescue's Training Center in Lakewood and the Longmont United Hospital.

At Denver International Airport, two urban search and rescue teams are searching rubble to find "victims," actually mannequins, trapped in the debris.

Technical rescue teams are conducting a similar drill at West Metro's Training Center.

At Longmont United Hospital, emergency responders are simulating the evacuation of more than 100 patients. Officials are using volunteers as patients for this exercise.

"They're attempting to actually move people from the hospital and track them as they send them to other hospitals in the area." according to Andy Lyon with South Metro Fire Rescue.

Lyon said teams from out of state are part of the exercise to test how well local teams mesh with teams they don't work with everyday.

The drill is being called "Operation VORTEX." Day one, Thursday, teams will simulate response activities which would be taking place 12 hours after a tornado has touched down. Day two, Friday, will focus on the recovery phase of a disaster.

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