Full-size Disaster Response Tactics in Texas
Teams from many countries and also from local fire departments or SAR (search and rescue) around the USA come to the campus of Texas A & M (Agricultural and Mechanical) University located in College Station, Texas to learn how to solve the special problems of each accident scene, such as collapsed building, crushed car, burning pipeline, or underwater car. Doing a big disaster or a local incident there are many kinds of rescue scenario to understand. So the 100+ props at TEEX (Texas Engineering Extension Service) give the professionals and volunteers the best possible teaching and practice to share with their colleagues back at home.
In 2014 ScienceCraft sent four staff members to learn about the history and current activities at TEEX. The theme of this study tour was to find out in the USA how the emergency managers and the rescue professionals are trained and to discover which parts of the professional education system work best, as well as which parts do not work so well.
Compared to Japan the population of emergency experts is bigger and combines full-time professional with special training, part-time professionals who joined in the emergency management work after their earlier careers with fire or police or military training, for example. But in USA there are also many volunteers and citizen teams that work closely with the professionals. These people need training, too. In USA a lot of time and money is used to practice rescues and communication. And these practice events also have evaluation to measure the improvement from the past exercises and to discover their weak points, too.
With so many types of emergency workers, it is important for everybody to use the same vocabulary and to know the emergency administration system so that communication is clear and confusion is minimized. The ICS (incident command system) is the heart of the NIMS (National incident management system). The history of ICS begins in the 1970s when mountain wildfire teams of firefighters from many cities tried to communicate but did not understand the vocabulary of each other. And they had too many leaders. Step by step they created the ICS. Now there are many countries with a similar system to guide their emergency management. TEEX is one part of training the professionals, but practicing their ICS communication is also important for performing the best possible response to disasters.