7/8/2004 12:00 AM
COLLEGE STATION – The Texas Engineering Extension Service (TEEX) will begin a computer simulation-supported training course for emergency management personnel Tuesday, July 12, using the latest technology to train emergency responders nationwide for a weapons of mass destruction (WMD)/terrorism incident.
The Enhanced Incident Management/Unified Command course features different scenarios involving terrorist acts such as massive explosions, chemical releases and radiation dispersion, as well as the use of biological agents as weapons of terror. The TEEX Emergency Operations Training Center at Disaster City is converted into an incident command post for each class, serving responders as they face the enormous training disasters.
The simulation center is a collaborative effort of TEEX and the Texas Engineering Experiment Station, both members of The Texas A&M University System. TEEX completed the last of three pilot courses in April in which the simulation center was tested by some of the top emergency response personnel across the country. During the final pilot, an explosion and chemical release at a fictitious convention center destroyed the building – killing and injuring hundreds of bystanders.
The emergency management participants plan strategies, while others work via electronic communication to control operations, logistics, plans and administration/finance. Wall-sized video screens keep those in the incident command post aware of the latest developments through simulated newscasts, while participants use digital maps and charts to help plan and manage decisions.
Each manager wears a color-coded vest respective to his or her title: incident commander, public information officer, safety officer, logistics chief, operations chief and planning chief. Emergency responders work the simulated terrorism incident scene as the command post coordinates efforts ranging from dispatching additional responders to locating hospital beds for the injured.
“The training in the strategic response and decision-making process at this management level is unique,” said program manager David Nock of TEEX’s National Emergency Response and Rescue Training Center. “The Enhanced Incident Management/Unified Command course provides realistic, real-time simulation and training analysis on a scale not found in other courses.”
After each scenario, the group discusses what happened, how and why certain decisions were made and the ramifications of those decisions.
“The immediate feedback participants receive is the crux of the decision-making process,” Nock said. “They see the direct results of their decisions. If they fail to react to a developing situation, things could get worse.”
Approximately 15 TEEX instructors and staff conduct the class and monitor activities from three different “cells” located behind the scenes of the command post. The control room, or white cell, controls and oversees the entire project. A green cell answers calls and role plays characters ranging from the scene responder to the FBI, and a training analysis facility (TAF) oversees the entire process.
The monthly course is funded by the Department of Homeland Security’s Office for Domestic Preparedness and facilitates up to 40 qualified participants. The three-and-a-half-day course is available to law enforcement, emergency medical services, emergency management, fire service, hazardous materials, public works, governmental administrative, public safety communications, health care, public health and county, state, and federal agency personnel who may respond to an incident in support of a local jurisdiction.