The May 22nd tornado changed that for many of us.
And it also affected the way emergency personnel handle storms.
911 dispatcher says, "911 what's your emergency?"
Times have changed since May 22nd....especially for 911 dispatchers who took calls on that tragic day.
Joplin's Emergency Communications Manager Sunny Goodwin says, "They are trained to take difficult calls but what they took and the volume of how many they took was definitely...you just couldn't fathom what you were hearing, and it has definitely changed these dispatchers."
Changed them and also raised the bar for what they now know they can handle.
Goodwin says, "The day of the tornado we had 3 dispatchers here on Sunday and that's an average for a Sunday."
3 people taking more than 500 calls in the first hour of the storm, and those are just the calls that made it through to the Joplin Call Center.
Goodwin says, "A lot of the calls went to other cities and counties. Jasper County took 800 calls in the first hour."
Now after looking back they are doing things a little differently.
Goodwin says, "Anytime we know a storm is coming we make sure we have extra help--someone that can stay over, anyone that can come in early."
And Goodwin isn't the only one with new plans in place in case another tragedy happens.
Since the storm...Joplin Emergency Management Director Keith Stammer has a new motto.Stammer says, "Think bigger than yourself. We used to only practice what we knew...no more."
Stammer is in the process of fixing one of the core problems during the storm. National Weather Service research recommends tweaking the warning system to keep people safe in a tornado.
Stammer says, "Changing how often we test our sirens, the city spending about 200 thousand to upgrade electronics to test them silently."
Not only upgrading sirens but also pushing the message of safety out even more.
Stammer says, "Be informed! Get a weather radio, watch the television, have a plan and practice that plan. "We've been preaching it more, and the audience is much more willing to listen now than in years past."
Listen to the warnings that Stammer and every emergency response team has trained for.
Stammer says, "The storm has caused us all to work more closely with each other and realize how much we depend on each other."
Every Thursday during storm season, Meteorologists Gary Bandy and Ray Foreman will be available to program your weather radios for free. This week our weather stop tour will be at CP Communications in Pittsburg from 4 - 7 p.m.