COLLEGE STATION — Texas Task Force 1, the state’s elite urban search and rescue team, will respond to mock weapons of mass destruction incidents at Disaster City during three Operational Readiness Exercises in April.
The yearly full-scale exercises are part of Texas Task Force 1’s role as one of 28 national urban search and rescue teams under the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Additionally, the task force, which is sponsored by the Texas Engineering Extension Service (TEEX), serves as Texas’ statewide urban search and rescue team under the direction of the Governor’s Division of Emergency Management.
Texas Task Force 1 will be divided into three teams for the Operational Readiness Exercises. The Red Team exercise will be held April 5-7, which will be followed by the White Team on April 15-17 and Blue Team on April 20-22. The first day of each exercise will involve the team’s deployment to Disaster City. Day two will include full-scale search and rescue operations, while the final day consists of demobilization efforts.
The exercises will utilize various resources from within The Texas A&M University System, including TEEX and its National Emergency Response and Rescue Training Center, as well as the Texas Forest Service’s Lone Star State Incident Management Team. The April 15-17 exercise will also involve several federal and state resources, including the Texas Disaster Medical Assistance Team and the Texas National Guard’s 6th Civil Support Team.
TEEX’s Emergency Operations Training Center adjacent to Disaster City will be utilized as an incident command post for each of the exercises. The 14,000-square-foot facility features the latest computerized emergency management technology and is linked to Disaster City through a series of strategically placed robotic cameras.
Texas Task Force 1 is comprised of emergency responders from more than 45 organizations and departments throughout Texas, with all members capable of deploying within a four-hour window. The team is trained to respond to mass casualty incidents generated from both manmade and natural disasters.
The Task Force has responded to major incidents throughout the country, including the Aggie Bonfire Collapse in 1999, Fort Worth tornadoes in 2000, World Trade Center attacks in New York City in 2001, Salt Lake City Winter Olympics in 2002, Space Shuttle Columbia disaster in 2003 and Hurricane Ivan in 2004.
Texas Task Force 1 maintains a $5 million state-of-the-art equipment cache consisting of more than 12,000 items and weighing in excess of 50,000 pounds. This equipment enables the team to be logistically self-sufficient for the first 72 hours of operation, while being able to function for up to 10 days.
Disaster City, a 52-acre training facility designed to deliver the full array of skills and techniques needed by emergency response professionals, serves as Texas Task Force 1’s home training base. The facility features full-size collapsible structures that replicate community infrastructure, including a strip mall, office building, industrial complex, assembly hall/theater, single family dwelling, train derailment and three rubble piles. Disaster City attracts emergency responders from throughout the world for search and rescue training.
TEEX offers hands-on, customized training, exercises, technical assistance and technology transfer services impacting Texas and beyond.