Images of rescuers responding to the devastation of Sept. 11th continue to appear throughout the American media. How does an emergency responder prepare to answer that kind of call? In a word: training.
Texas Task Force 1 (TX-TF1) is one of 28 teams in the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) National Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) Response System, and one of only six designated to respond to Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD). TX-TF1 conducted a full-scale “Operational Readiness Exercise” involving WMD Sept. 5-6 in College Station, Texas.
“We recognize the importance of training,” says Dr. Kem Bennett, TX-TF1 Director. “Everything about this exercise is as realistic as possible, so when we’re called upon to serve, we know exactly what to do.”
The exercise began with a “call-out” page to team members around the state who must report for duty within six hours. Upon arrival, 64 task force members checked in, received briefing on the “incident”, and deployed to “Disaster City” to conduct the rescue mission.
“Disaster City” is a 52-acre training facility filled with real collapsible structures, including a 10,000-square foot rubble pile where 40 live victims with realistic-looking injuries were “buried” within a system of tunnels. Live victims were also placed throughout other structures, including a three-story pancake collapsed building.
TX-TF1 is administered by the Texas Engineering Extension Service (TEEX) and consists of rescue experts, hazardous material specialists, structural engineers, canine search teams and medical personnel.