Storm chaser Brandon Copic captured amazing scenes bringing everyone face to face with the dangerous tornado in Sumter County, Georgia Wednesday. But, leave it to experts he warns. He has seen so much damage and destruction over his past decade as an extreme weather videographer, his focus switched. Instead of working to get the best video of the tornado he works to get to the aftermath just after a tornado.
"It's [my] upmost concern… the people in the path, that's the first thing, that's always my concern," Copic who is Executive Director of ChaserWx Disaster Relief told FOX Weather in an interview. "Our goal with our disaster relief organization is rapid disaster response."
And who better to be a first responder than a person photographing the twister and everything in its path.
"[For] most EMTs, it takes an extended period of time for them to find the damage, " Copic said of emergency personnel that wait for a call. "While it's dangerous, usually if it does impact the structure, it allows us to be there within 90 seconds of a tornado impacting the area. So we definitely use that to our advantage and our skills as experienced storm chasers."
Copic and his chasing partner, who is an EMT, always travel with medical kits. They tracked severe storms in Alabama on Tuesday. After studying the atmospheric conditions, they drove east to an area he felt was "pretty prime" on Wednesday.
Copic was within a few hundreds yards of a tornado in Sumter County, Georgia where the storm chaser can be heard yelling, "Back up, Back up." He, his partner and an emergency officer quickly retreated as the tornado changed path.
"Overall, it was an intense situation all around. We felt safe. For the most part," said Copic. "We felt we were in a position where we could pack up and be out of the main threat area."
The danger heightens as night falls and tornadoes become more difficult to see in the dark.
The veteran storm chaser recommends leaving the chasing to the experts.
"A lot of people don't have the quick reaction time at nighttime," continued Copic. "They like to see the tornado themselves before they react, and that's typically a very flawed method. We always need people to get in their safe place."
Despite the tornado, the Director of Emergency Management for Sumter County, Nigel Poole, told FOX Weather during an interview, there were no reports of injuries or damaged structures.
Copic says he'll continue to track the deadly storm system through Thursday.