Texas emergency responders prep for disasters

COLLEGE STATION, TX (KTRK) -- Search and rescue operations like the ones on Mount Everest and through Nepal, take special training. Texas Task Force One is based out of College Station is among the elite rescue teams in the world. We got and up close look at how they and others prepare for their high stakes missions.

It happens in "Disaster City" at Texas A&M, a unique 52 acre campus, to which teams from all over the world come to train.

"It's designed to replicate those structures you'd find in a city," explained Will Welch with the TAMU Engineering Extension Service (TEEX). TEEX runs the facility.

"All of them are in various states of collapse. No place else has the environment and really no place else have the subject matter experts and the people who have been in the field, been in those disasters, and bring their knowledge and skills back here to teach to others," said Welch.

This weekend, close to 400 people were training in real world scenarios so they are ready when disaster happens. Among those are seventy members of Texas Task Force One, one of FEMA's 28 urban search and rescue teams, refining the same set of skills it's taking to respond in Nepal after its 7.8 earthquake this weekend. They are simulating a hurricane and the rescue of people trapped in the debris.

"All of the teams are always on the ready. We train all of the time so we can be ready," said Jeff Saunders, the director of Texas Task Force One. "All of our scenarios are based off of real world incidents that we've been to. We take the lessons that we've learned and incorporate them into the writing of this scenario."

Also training during the weekend exercises was a veterinary response team. It's drill to help extricate a trapped horse. It too was part of a realistic effort to make sure heroes have the skills they need,

"You have to worry about more than just people during disasters -- every disaster impacts animals," said Wesley Bissett with Texas A&M's Veterinary Emergency Team. "We have a lot of events like this on weekends. I would say at least once a month where we are out honing our skills, making sure we're ready to serve our state any time something bad happens."
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