TEEX (Disaster City, Brayton Fire Training Field)
College Station, Texas
CASE STUDY #1
At its campus in College Station, Texas, TEEX annually trains more than 85,000 first responders from all U.S. states and territories and more than 81 countries.46 Along with related training facilities, the TEEX campus includes “Disaster City,” a 52-acre mock community that offers first responders customized, hands-on training in a wide variety of emergencies, including chemical fires, earthquakes, and attacks on critical infrastructure, such as the electric grid, roads, and telecommunications. In addition to Disaster City, the TEEX campus also includes a 300-acre fire training field and Emergency Operations Training Center.
MVDDS to the "rescue"
The TEEX campus features full-scale structures designed to simulate a variety of disasters as realistically as possible. For example, the transportation disaster training area has two rail-car assemblies. The first scenario simulates a chemical and freight train derailment involving both derailed cars and cars sitting on tracks. TEEX has outfitted the rail cars with a plumbing system to simulate leaks of liquid fuel and toxic chemicals. The second scenario features an actual passenger train in a derailment configuration that allows TEEX to offer first responders a hyper-realistic tangle of rail cars, catenary poles, and high-voltage transmission lines from which to learn how to extract people playing wounded and dead passengers as quickly, safely, and efficiently as possible.
For all of the sophistication of TEEX’s rescue scenarios, however, the educational
mission of the institution is limited by a lack of reliable, high-throughput connectivity from the emergency operations command centers to the different Disaster City environmental stations. Service on the remote, 52-acre campus is spotty and fiber connections are virtually non-existent. But the demand for connectivity is substantial because of the need to connect the sprawling campus to the classroom training centers and leadership environments.
As just one example of the need for connectivity, TEEX conducts tabletop exercises that allow public safety managers to discuss emergencies being simulated elsewhere on the campus. Participants in the tabletop exercise review the emergency, test their plans against the scenario, and identify shortcomings in the chain of command or response plan to improve their preparedness for an actual disaster. While these exercises allow leadership personnel to identify strengths and areas for improvement through supportive group discussion, the tabletop exercises are largely, if not entirely, disconnected from the elaborately simulated operational response scenarios unfolding in real-time elsewhere on the campus. The lack of interaction creates an artificial barrier between classroom learning and the field experience.
TEEX and RSAccess have partnered to help bridge this gap. The five MVDDS transmitter locations and multiple receive-site equipment that RSAccess has deployed connect the Emergency Operations Training Center and other leadership areas with field stations spread across the TEEX campus. These dedicated connections will allow TEEX to integrate the tabletop exercises with the field environments and, in so doing, offer new pedagogical opportunities to help public safety leaders and front-line personnel better understand the challenges they face as a unit. With access to live, high-quality video streams from the field, for example, the first responder leadership teams not physically present at the exercise site can better validate their plans and readiness against real-time information drawn from the simulated operational environment taking place elsewhere on the campus. And by varying the amount and source of information received from the field operations, TEEX educators can test and validate the leadership team’s ability to operate in a variety of lifelike scenarios where they may receive either too much or too little information, which taxes their ability to make intelligent decisions in real time.
TEEX anticipates that offering more realistic tabletop exercise programs will improve first responders’ operational response times and, ultimately, improve the ability of first responders in the United States and around the world to save lives and property. As its wireless service demonstrates its value and improves emergency responders’ and city officials’ learning experience, RSAccess is excited by the opportunity to increase the number of links installed at TEEX’s facilities. This opportunity includes installing more links at TEEX’s College Station campus as well as its RELLIS campus in Bryan, Texas. RELLIS is specifically designed for public utility workers and includes “overhead and underground electric power training fields, a firing range for law enforcement officers, a heavy equipment training field, an emergency vehicle-driving track, unexploded ordnance ranges and search grids, and simulation prop houses for tactical training.