SPOKANE, Wash. -- The most recent disaster in Washington made the state better prepared to handle the next one, according to members of the Washington National Guard.
"It really showed our training is valid," said Master Sgt. Chris Martin, who spent 10 days in the Oso landslide debris.
"I think about it every day," said Martin, "I'll never forget my time there."
Martin and dozens of other Guard members are spending this week on a mass casualty drill in Spokane.
"What it did was validate for us this concept works," said Col. James Rollins, commander of the state's Homeland Response Force.
The landslide was the first time the state deployed the Guard's Search and Extraction Team.
Rollins said the Guard learned its hazardous materials suits didn't cut it in the mud, so members went to sporting goods stores to by chest waders.
But the commander said members learned in Oso they are needed.
"When I talk to these soldiers and airmen," said the Homeland Response Force commander, Col. James Rollins, "The thing I got from them is a sense of fulfillment."