A Look Inside the Winnebago County Emergency Operations Center During Wednesday's Storms...

By: Jorge Rodas Email
By: Jorge Rodas Email

STATELINE (WIFR) -- As storms continue to roll through our area a group of first responders is watching their every move. We were in the Winnebago County Emergency Operations Center to bring you a first-hand look at what they do when a storm like this powers through the Stateline.

The sound of radios and the sights of radar monitors tell the story of Jerry Wiltfang and his team’s day. They were monitoring today's storms out of the Winnebago County Emergency Operations Center keeping their eyes out for possible tornadoes in our area.

“That tornado has to start somewhere,” said Wiltfang. “If it happens to be in our county we have to see it first."

Wiltfang was a Rockford firefighter for more than thirty years. Now he runs the county's emergency response team as the county’s Emergency Operations Director.

"The information's coming from multiple directions,” Wiltfang said. “We had the storm spotter out… one person dealing with them. Another person watching nothing but radars. Another two people actually talking to police officers on the street and the firefighters and then we're trying to synthesize all that information and make intelligent decisions about when we set the sirens off."

Wiltfang says he realizes how vital his role is.

“Seconds might mean the difference of somebody getting in the basement or not," Wiltfang said.

He says he's had to coordinate flood responses before, but tracking potential twisters are a whole different animal.

The Emergency Operations Center is in the basement of the county Criminal Justice Center downtown.

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