How do disaster responders learn to deal with real disasters? According to a BBC video, disaster workers from around the world come to Disaster City, a fifty-two acre research and training hub in Texas. Created by Texas Engineering Extension Service (TEEX), which trains over 85,000 emergency personnel each year, Disaster City trains both human and animal emergency responders to deal with just about any scenario imaginable and is the largest and most comprehensive emergency response training facility in the world.
New technology and education constantly shift the techniques used by responders, but Disaster City remains on the cutting edge by embracing new methods and technologies first responders can use to effectively deal with calamity. Essentially, they try to prepare for anything by engineering various “props,” which are designed to realistically emulate various disaster situations. Props range everywhere from collapsed homes to nearly full-scale train wrecks (with actual train cars). One area even consists of collapsed concrete structures and has an underground tunnel for researchers to practice close-quarters first-aid, as well as confined space shoring techniques—but that’s just touching the surface.
Basically any conceivable disaster can be reproduced in Disaster City. Responders are trained on how to deal with home or even parking structure collapses, what to do when there’s a hazardous material leak, an earthquake, a tornado, a tsunami, or you name it. Through this rigorous and extensive training, responders experience as many types of disasters as possible, as realistically as possible, so they know exactly what to do when a real emergency arises.
The facility isn’t exclusive to US emergency responders either. According to TEEX communications manager, William Welch, people from all over the world travel to Disaster City to learn how to handle disasters. Welch even mentions that the facility recently hosted a multi-national exercise in which a large international group worked together. This type of collaboration is useful because, according to Welch, it’s only a matter of time before a large-scale disaster will strike. “Eventually a disaster will be big enough that everybody will have to come together. We should train and plan and prepare before that happens.”
Check out this short, informative video on Disaster City to learn what it’s all about, or for more about disaster planning, check out this article on disaster planning for your family.