LUFKIN, Texas (KTRE) - A wide-area disaster course was offered at Angelina College during the weekend of Jan. 25.
The class was developed and grant-funded in conjunction with the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
The goal of the course is to help standardize operations. Following repeated disasters, such as Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Rita, and the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster, it was noted that there was a lack of training for catastrophic events.
The federal government adopted the Catastrophic Incident Search and Rescue Addendum.
“Immediately after a disaster it’s just chaos, very chaotic, and this kind of brings it all together and helps organize the search operations,” said TEEX Instructor, Milton Vincent. “It’s designed to provide search and rescue resources to help them plan, manage, and conduct search operations for a large-scale incident.”
From acting as boots on the ground to managers, participants from near and far, are getting to immerse themselves in all sides of search and rescue.
“Any kind of federal task force, we are teaching their standards,” said Vincent. “So the people in this class are taking the exact class that the federal, like Texas Task Force 1. They are required to have this class as a requisite to be a member.”
The National Association of Search and Rescue was in attendance to learn how wilderness search and rescue integrates with what the course focused on, urban search and rescue.
“They’re in the middle of segmenting their maps. They’re doing a pre-plan for a hurricane that’s coming here in just a few hours,” said Chris Boyer, executive director NASAR. “So they’re doing what any other fire agency would do, is divvy up the areas so that they can respond to the different areas that would have a problem.”
The course was open to volunteers and professionals.
“You gotta be prepared in the community, and Hudson Fire Search and Rescue is all volunteers. This is a free course that TEEX offers,” said Boyer. “So it’s great that we could bring it here for the community. It makes the community safer when the volunteers are prepared and trained.”
The search and rescue field is evolving, especially with technology. Therefore the course is updated on a periodic basis.
“The teaching principles and the objectives of the class will remain the same there will be a little bit different way of presenting them in addition to new technologies and new information that has come in,” said Vincent.