COLLEGE STATION — Disaster City and the urban search and rescue training offered by the Texas Engineering Extension Service (TEEX) were featured in a live segment on ABC’s “Good Morning America” today (July 8). Diane Sawyer conducted a live interview with Urban Search & Rescue Division Director Bob McKee, who discussed the training TEEX provided to members of the London Fire Brigade to help them prepare and respond to Thursday’s terrorist attacks.
TEEX, a member of The Texas A&M University System, has trained 178 urban search and rescue specialists from the London Fire Brigade at Disaster City in a partnership that dates back to June 2003. Fourteen classes have been conducted at Disaster City for 652 search and rescue specialists from throughout the United Kingdom over the past two years.
London Fire Brigade Commissioner Ken Knight attributed his agency’s preparedness to the urban search and rescue training received in Texas at Texas A&M and Disaster City during a press conference that aired Thursday on CNN.
“We had taken the view that it was when rather than if and had a high level of training in place,” Knight told CNN. “A number of our firefighters trained at Texas A&M for terrorist anti-terrorist activities and building collapse. We had taken new equipment and prepared ourselves sadly for this day, and this day was the reality of that training. Firefighters throughout London came through it well.”
The TEEX-London Fire Brigade partnership is a result of the United Kingdom’s New Dimension Programme, one of the most ambitious fire and rescue programs ever undertaken by the country. After discussions with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and an investigation of other training sites worldwide, United Kingdom officials selected TEEX to develop and provide a modified version of FEMA’s structural collapse course at the agency’s renowned Disaster City.
Members of the London Fire Brigade each spent two weeks at Disaster City for the 80-hour course, which included hands-on training sessions in heavy rescue (internal and external shoring; lifting and moving; and breaching and breaking), structural collapse, structural engineering systems and technical search.
Disaster City is a 52-acre training facility designed to deliver the full array of skills and techniques needed by urban search and rescue professionals. 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.
TEEX offers hands-on, customized training, exercises, technical assistance and technology transfer services impacting Texas and beyond.