Since 2006, Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service (TEEX) and Disaster City have utilized an incredible group of volunteers from the surrounding communities to assist with Urban Search and Rescue (US&R) training and large-scale exercises. The very difficult task of training for a large-scale disaster or terrorist attack requires that emergency responders be exposed to the chaos and disorganization of a disaster scene. Our volunteers help create that chaos and realism. They make training and exercises in Disaster City? the most realistic in the world.
Remember, emergency responders are depending on you in order to conduct training. The most important thing about the volunteer program is to have fun. Volunteers will learn about emergency response and how search and rescue operations are conducted.
Training and exercises happen in Disaster City? year round. Announcements are sent as the opportunities arise.
Make sure you have signed up before you show up in Disaster City to volunteer. All volunteers will receive a confirmation email indicating that they are signed up for a particular shift. If you are part of a student organization and would like to schedule a group to come out and volunteer together, contact Paul Gunnels at firstname.lastname@example.org or (979) 458-5636.
There are no prerequisites for this course.
Course Completion Requirements
Volunteers are reminded of the following:
- You must register for a particular shift
- Must be able to hide in rubble piles for up to two hours.
- Always wear long pants and long-sleeve shirts (no shorts and no short sleeves)
- Always wear sturdy boots or tennis shoes (no sandals or exposed toes)
- Always bring layers of clothing in case the weather changes
- Leave your cell phone in your car; you don’t want to lose it in Disaster City®
- Call or email the volunteer coordinator if you cannot make your shift.
Class attendance is an essential part of the education process and participants in TEEX courses are expected to attend all class sessions and field exercises. This course requires participants to attend a minimum of 80% of the class hours as a component of successful course completion. During the course, your instructor will review any additional attendance requirements, for example a field exercise that cannot be missed.
Disaster City® volunteers come from all walks of life, all ages, and many different communities:
- Citizens who wish to help Texas Task Force One
- Animal lovers and people interested in canine search teams
- Student groups from Texas A&M University, Blinn College, and Sam Houston University
- Volunteers interested in emergency preparedness
- Community groups such as Boy Scouts, and Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT)
- Local churches
- Anyone who would like to see what happens in Disaster City®
Canine Rescue Teams
One area that has seen tremendous training improvement is our Disaster Canine Search Program. Before the Disaster City? Volunteer Program, the canine handlers would have to take turns acting as victims in order for the canine teams to practice searching. The addition of volunteers has now freed the canine team to continue training instead of “hiding in the rubble”. The volunteers have become an integral part of the training and advancement of our canine search teams.
- Volunteers get a chance to meet and interact with the canine handlers and search canine.
- More training repetitions can be held in each training day.
- Complex search scenarios with multiple victims.
- New, unknown victims
- Repeat volunteers become well-trained assistants.
As volunteers continue to come out and assist with the canine search training, each visit they are assigned greater responsibilities and can assist with providing more advanced training problems for the canine teams.
Disaster City volunteers are an important and necessary part of the Disaster Canine Search Program for the State of Texas.