COLLEGE STATION – Ordinary citizens are usually the first ones on the scene of a disaster, and may have the opportunity to rescue others and save lives before responders arrive on the scene.
That’s why an innovative course offered by the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service (TEEX) provides the nuts and bolts of basic search and rescue for the general public and community-based groups.
The 12-hour course, “Search and Rescue in Community Disasters,” was developed in 2015 to better prepare citizens to support themselves and their families after a disaster. The course has been offered in six states to nearly 250 people so far. A group of Brazos Valley residents recently attended the course at the TEEX Emergency Operations Training Center in College Station on Jan. 8-9.
Initial discussions centered on risks faced in the Brazos Valley and disaster preparedness. During the hands-on portion, participants learned to safely conduct a search and perform light rescue to aid family members or neighbors immediately following a disaster.
“The course focuses on what has been a missing piece of community preparedness,” said Instructor Susann Brown, who is a search team manager with Texas Task Force 1 and helped to develop the course. “We discuss what to do in the immediate aftermath of a disaster that strikes your home or your office. We provide basic information on how to save yourself, your family, your neighbors or your coworkers and how to use readily available items as tools to perform light rescue.” Information is also provided on how to assess the condition of victims and when to seek immediate medical assistance.
The course is useful for citizens, even if they don’t live in areas prone to hurricanes, flooding and tornadoes. “It doesn’t have to be a large-scale event to affect an individual or a family,” Brown says. “If it happens to you, it’s big.”
Offered at no cost by TEEX’s National Emergency Response and Rescue Training Center, it is the first DHS/FEMA-funded course under the National Training Program Cooperative Agreement that focuses on a community’s disaster victims who are not first responders. The course was certified in September 2015 by DHS/FEMA through its Homeland Security National Training Program Cooperative Agreement.
Photo Caption: Susann Brown discusses the basics of search and rescue and demonstrates how to use a board as a lever.
Learn more and view upcoming classes.
Watch a video segment on KBTX-TV.