3/22/2005 12:00 AM
LAREDO – Thirty-three emergency responders from Puerto Rico are the first to graduate from classes taught at the Laredo International Fire and Law Enforcement Training Center under an innovative agreement between the Texas Engineering Extension Service (TEEX) and the city of Laredo.
Members of the Puerto Rico National Guard and the Puerto Rico Fire Department will graduate Friday, March 25, at 10 a.m., after three weeks of hands-on, confined space and rope rescue training at the state-of-the-art Laredo center, which opened in 2002.
Previously, the group from Puerto Rico completed a two-week structural collapse technician certification course in College Station at TEEX’s Disaster City™, a world-renowned training center filled with full-scale, collapsible structures, replicating the infrastructure found in every community. All classes were conducted in Spanish by bilingual instructors from TEEX and the Laredo Fire Department.
The training the emergency responders have received in College Station and Laredo will assist Puerto Rico in its efforts to enhance its emergency preparedness, said Lt. Victor Lassalle, State Coordinator of Homeland Security for the Puerto Rico Fire Department.
“Without a doubt the city of Laredo has a fabulous training facility,” said Chief Les Bunte of TEEX’s Emergency Services Training Institute. “We are pleased to have it designated as a cooperative learning center, and we hope this is just the first of many collaborative training programs we will offer to our Spanish-speaking colleagues in Puerto Rico, Mexico, Latin America and South America. This joint program provides them with the best training at the best facilities in the world.”
“We have begun to see the fruits of our labor,” said Deputy Fire Chief Steve Landin of the Laredo Fire Department. “We look forward to maintaining a good working relationship with TEEX for many years to come.”
TEEX is a member of The Texas A&M University System and trains more than 50,000 emergency responders each year. The agency offers hands-on, customized training, exercises, technical assistance and technology transfer services impacting Texas and beyond.