2/7/2007 12:00 AM
Firefighters from two of the world’s largest nuclear energy facilities spent the past three weeks training at the Texas Engineering Extension Service’s Disaster City®, learning the techniques and procedures for rescue in a contaminated environment.
The United Kingdom’s British Nuclear Fuels (BNFL) Sellafield facility and the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) sent a total of 14 firefighters, officers and chiefs for the training, who will in turn train others from their respective facilities.
The course provides emergency responders with the opportunity for practical application of urban search and rescue techniques in a simulated chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive (CBRNE) environment. Students learn various rescue techniques such as breaching and breaking, lifting and moving, shoring and victim removal – all while wearing personal protective equipment for hazardous materials.
The firefighters from AWE and BNFL must always be prepared for emergency events ranging from terrorist attacks and seismic catastrophes to chemical leaks and spills.
Rick Lanigan, AWE fire chief, said his facility has more than 600 buildings for employees who must have a 24/7 fire and medical service available.
“Although we’re not part of the UK fire service, we’re trained in such things as firefighting, rope rescue and urban search and rescue,” Lanigan said. “This training at TEEX helps us to maintain our education in emergency response.”
Tony Sewell, AWE training officer, said that Disaster City® is the most realistic disaster training facility that he’s seen.
“Disaster City® is a wonderful place to train, but the trainers themselves are also extremely knowledgeable. The entire package is very conducive with learning,” Sewell said. “Everyone is so passionate and professional here. You can’t buy passion – this is by far the best we’ve ever come across.”