TEEX Awarded Federal Grant to Train Urban Search & Rescue Teams

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After a disaster, rescuers work in dangerous situations, putting their own lives on the line, to save people. Instructors at the Texas Engineering Extension Service, or TEEX, work everyday to train first responders on rescue tactics.

Now, a new federal grant means that the training at TEEX could be the standard for rescue teams nation wide.

Friday, TEEX announced they were awarded a contract to provide all the Urban Search and Rescue (US&R) training for the National US&R Response System. The Texas A&M University System agency is well-equipped to train rescuers thanks to Disaster City; a place where disasters happen every day.

When the roof above your head could fall down at any minute, .time is everything. Monday, rescue crews from Iowa, Ohio and New Jersey are training on different building collapse scenarios at TEEX's Disaster City.

"This is an advanced technical rescue discipline," explained TEEX Rescue Training Program Director David Martin.

"There are a variety of threats that these types of resources can be used for. Everything from an act of terrorism to a natural disaster," continued Martin.

The unique hands on learning at Disaster City played a big role in FEMA awarding a nearly $10 million grant. TEEX will be responsible for training all Urban Search and Rescue teams in country.

"It means that we are really recognized as being the leader in urban search and rescue," said Martin.

At Disaster City, rescuers get a chance to take the theory they learn in a classroom and put them into practice. These concepts are ones designed to save lives following a disaster.

"It's really pretty elementary," said Richard Weir, an instructor at TEEX.

Rescue crews have to be resourceful. No two disasters are the same. Sometimes basic tools can be the most powerful.

"It's the way the Egyptians moved a lot of heavy things years ago. We can do the same thing and apply them here with what elements and what things we have available at a collapse sight," explained Weir.

TEEX is using it's blended model of online and real-life exercises to revamp training for all 28 US&R teams in the country.

"This is a real opportunity to change the model for training for the whole nation," said Martin. This contract marks the first time that FEMA has combined course delivery with curriculum services and an online training portal in a single contract.

The initial one-year contract includes four options to extend delivery for up to five years for a combined total of $9.8 Million.