COLLEGE STATION – When Super Bowl XLVII kicks off Sunday, Feb. 3, in the Mercedes Benz Superdome, facility managers and New Orleans emergency responders will breathe a little easier thanks to the training provided by TEEX and its National Emergency Response and Rescue Training Center (NERRTC).
With an expected 75,000 fans in the stands, the city’s emergency response community and the Superdome management have to be ready for anything, from inclement weather and fan violence to accidents or acts of terrorism.
Preparation is key. Long before anyone knew the match-up would be between the Baltimore Ravens vs. San Francisco 49ers, New Orleans officials and emergency managers were preparing for the 2013 Super Bowl. Emergency preparedness training helps to ensure public safety and security by preparing a multi-discipline team to handle a major incident that could occur at a large venue.
Training included a special 8-hour executive level course in sports and special events incident management last March for senior officials from the Superdome and the mayor’s office, along with New Orleans fire, EMS and police officials. The customized course was developed and conducted by the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service (TEEX) and the University of Southern Mississippi’s National Center for Spectator Sports Safety and Security (NCS4) to help approximately 30 executives plan for the event and examine any vulnerabilities in advance.
Then in August 2012, TEEX and NCS4 led a 16-hour course in Sports and Special Events Incident Management at the Superdome, which brought together about 30 members of the New Orleans emergency response community and public and private leadership to work together as a multi-disciplinary team. As a part of the course, participants worked through an incident using a scenario developed specifically for the Superdome.
“The course focuses on establishing partnerships within the community, as well as team-building for emergency responders,” said TEEX WMD Program Director Jason Moats. “We typically have attendees from event operations, athletic departments, the emergency response community, but also people who run the concessions in the large venues. The course is important for members of both the public and private sector, who need to work together in a multi-disciplinary team. It is vital to develop these key partnerships before a crisis occurs.”
The two-day DHS/FEMA-funded course is offered through the Homeland Security National Training Program operated by TEEX’s National Emergency Response and Rescue Training Center (NERRTC) at no charge to jurisdictions or educational institutions nationwide. The course is specifically designed for universities, sports teams, and private or public entities that operate a stadium, arena or other large venue, and is taught by subject matter experts from TEEX and NCS4.
“I am honored that Texas A&M through the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service has played such an important role in preparing community leaders and first responders as the eyes of the world focus on the 2013 Super Bowl,” commented John Sharp, Chancellor of The Texas A&M University System.
This is not the first time TEEX personnel have been involved in assisting with safety and security for other high-profile sporting events. In 2011, members of the TEEX-sponsored urban search and rescue team, Texas Task Force 1, assisted with the state incident management team for the Super Bowl at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington. In 2002, TX-TF1 was one of six FEMA teams deployed to Salt Lake City for the Winter Olympics. TEEX experts are already working with New Jersey officials to plan and prepare community leaders and first responders for next year’s Super Bowl.
NERRTC is a member of the National Domestic Preparedness Consortium.