6/28/1998 12:00 AM
As the Oklahoma City bombing trial jurors made a pilgrimage to the scene of the crime, the National Emergency Response and Rescue Training Center (NERRTC) at Texas A&M University is taking steps to ensure that situation never happens again.
NERRTC has joined the U.S. Department of Justice, New Mexico Tech, the Nevada Test Site, Louisiana State University and Fort McClellan in Alabama to form the National Domestic Preparedness Consortium to fight domestic terrorism attacks.
The Consortium, established on June 11 in Washington, D.C., will play a leadership role in preparing firefighters, law enforcement, medical and other emergency personnel to respond to acts of chemical, biological or nuclear terrorism.
The Consortium was designed after senators noticed there were several federal entities and academic institutions involved in anti-terrorism activities that complimented one another.
Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison was one of the legislators who established the partnership."The agreement means we will be able to train a million first-response workers during the first five years of the program," said Hutchison. "It brings together the resources needed to deal with such threats immediately and effectively."
The Consortium will develop national standards for emergency response management as well as create a national curriculum for training emergency personnel. Brenda Sims, a spokesperson for the Texas Engineering Extension Service which runs NERRTC, said the center in College Station will play an instrumental role in the training process.
Part of the program will include the construction of a "disaster city" in College Station. The replica of a neighborhood will be used to teach emergency managers how to handle chemical, biological and nuclear attacks. The center will also use virtual reality simulators to aid in the teaching process.
"These simulations will provide the reality-based experience that workers need to successfully counter terrorism attacks," Sims said. Sims said the Texas A&M community will benefit from the Consortium through research and jobs.
We will depend on the research community to develop new technology," Sims said.