COLLEGE STATION, Texas — The Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service (TEEX) has been selected by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to develop and deliver curriculum for Urban Search and Rescue (US&R) training and exercises for all 5,800 members of the National US&R Response System.
“The Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service has set the national standard for emergency response,” said Governor Greg Abbott. “TEEX’s premier facilities and training exercises have helped prepare individuals to face the toughest challenges, resulting in countless lives saved. I am confident that FEMA’s US&R Response System teams will receive the best training possible, and I congratulate Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service on this significant opportunity.”
The Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service is a state agency under The Texas A&M University System and competed for this award through an RFP process. FEMA has executed a five-year contract with TEEX, valued at up to $5.9 Million.
Under the new contract, the A&M Engineering Extension Service will design and facilitate exercises for the 28 FEMA-sanctioned teams and maintain the US&R Emergency Support Function 9 (ESF-9) Training Portal. Training and exercises will be held at various locations across the United States, including a premier property known as Disaster City? in College Station, TX. It is a 52-acre complex that features full-scale, collapsible structures designed to simulate various levels of disaster and wreckage that can be customized for specific training needs of any group.
“The goal is to ensure consistency and maintain the quality of the training for every FEMA US&R team throughout the nation,” said Paul Gunnels, Rescue Program Director with A&M Engineering Extension Service. “As a designated center of excellence’ and leader in search and rescue training, TEEX has experience and expertise in curriculum development, as well as the associated training and exercises, that are combined with realistic, state-of-the-art facilities such as Disaster City?. We are pleased to provide training support for the FEMA US&R teams in the life-saving work they do.”
“The Texas A&M System is proud of all the training that takes place at Brayton Fire Training Field, Disaster City? and all of the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service facilities,” said Texas A&M System Chancellor John Sharp. “I believe there is no better place in the nation to train all of FEMA’s Urban Search and Rescue teams.”
Under the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) National Response Framework, FEMA is the lead agency responsible for providing federal urban search and rescue assistance to state and local governments during federally declared emergencies or disasters — such as Hurricane Harvey. The FEMA National US&R Response System is comprised of 28 US&R teams from across the nation, all of which receive standardized training in the tactics of urban search and rescue. All US&R “Task Force” members must complete hundreds of hours of training in their assigned specialty, such as search, rescue, medical, logistics, technical or canine search and rescue.
“Standardized training is the pillar of the National US&R Response System interoperability, setting the bar for the entire country,” said Roseville Fire Chief Rick Bartee, a member of California Task Force 7 (CA-TF7).
Gunnels added, “Since the National US&R System was formed in 1989, the need for these teams has increased each year, especially for swift water and flooding response.” There are countless examples of flash floods in Texas that require sophisticated recovery operations in dangerous conditions, such as the recent rescue on the Nueces River in Uvalde County.
This is the second FEMA US&R training contract awarded to TEEX. During the past five years, TEEX developed and updated the curriculum for 18 FEMA US&R courses. These include online and blended learning courses, which are available from the web-based ESF-9 Training Portal and Learning Management System developed by TEEX, specifically for the National FEMA US&R System.
The Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service (TEEX) is a state agency that is a member of The Texas A&M University System. It is an internationally recognized leader in the delivery of emergency response, homeland security and workforce training, exercises, technical assistance, and economic development. In 2017, TEEX served more than 173,000 people from across the United States and 75 countries through hands-on training and technical services.
About The Texas A&M University System
The Texas A&M University System is one of the largest systems of higher education in the nation, with a budget of $4.7 billion. Through a statewide network of 11 universities and seven state agencies, the Texas A&M System educates more than 152,000 students and makes more than 22 million additional educational contacts through service and outreach programs each year. System-wide, research and development expenditures exceeded $972 million in FY 2016 and helped drive the state’s economy.
NOTE: Please contact Paul Gunnels for additional information/interviews.