Texas Task Force 1 Prepares for Earthquake

By: Brittney Feltmann and Meredith Stancik
By: Brittney Feltmann and Meredith Stancik

It's a natural disaster that is not common for our area, but emergency crews are preparing just in case.

Texas Task Force 1, the state's elite urban search and rescue team, will respond to a mock earthquake catastrophe at Disaster City Friday, March 2 through Sunday, March 4.

The annual exercise prepares and maintains the skills of Texas Task Force 1.

This year's earthquake scenario will include a response by one of the Task Force's 80-member response teams, which will deploy to its College Station based headquarters and then be transported to Disaster City.

In the mock earthquake aftermath, the team must maneuver through Disaster City rescuing volunteer "victims" in rubble piles, cars, trains and structurally collapsed buildings.
Leaking natural gas lines, electric transmission lines and overflowing sewer system scenarios will all be encountered, just like an actual disaster.

"The skills and experiences from this exercise will apply to any disaster, whether a terrorist attack or a weather event," Bob McKee, director of the Task Force and the Texas Engineering Extension Service's (TEEX) Urban Search and Rescue division said.

The operational readiness exercise is part of Texas Task Force 1's role as one of 28 national urban search and rescue teams under FEMA.
Additionally, the Task Force, which is sponsored by TEEX, serves as Texas' only statewide urban search and rescue team under the direction of the Governor's Division of Emergency Management.

Texas Task Force 1 is comprised of more than 300 emergency responders from more than 60 organizations and departments throughout Texas, with all members capable of deploying within a four-hour window.

The team, which includes members ranging from firefighters to canines, is trained to respond to mass casualty incidents generated from both man made 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, the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster in 2003, and Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, among others.

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