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Local first responders train at ISU’s new Disaster Response Complex

disaster response complex, search and rescue training
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Members of Pocatello Fire Department Search and Rescue attempt to break through a concrete barrier to rescue a mannequin. This was part of their first training exercise at ISU's Disaster Response Complex.

POCATELLO, Idaho (KIFI/KIDK) - Local first responders trained at Idaho State University's new Disaster Response Complex on Tuesday.

Members of the Pocatello Fire Department's search and rescue team spent hours in a simulated building collapse, trying to rescue a mannequin. In light of the many recent earthquakes in our area, PFD felt it was a good time to brush up on their rescue skills.

The training is one of the first of its kind at the Disaster Response Complex. The Complex was created with a nearly $1.1 million grant from the Higher Education Research Council of the Idaho State Board of Education.

ISU's Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering associate professor Mustafa Mashal was the principal investigator for the project.

"When we started this project, we noticed there is no facility of this kind in the Northwestern United States," Mashal said.

Mashal's team successfully applied for a grant in 2019, opening the door to create a curriculum in emergency response at ISU.

The structural collapse training is the second to take place at the Disaster Response Center near Alvin Ricken Road in Pocatello.

“We’re just really excited to have the facility ISU has provided here. We normally would have to go out of town, as far as Texas, to get a facility like this," said Captain Devin Christensen, with PFD.

The Disaster Response Complex offers more than just training for our first responders. It also offers technological research opportunities for ISU students and faculty.

Engineering students were tasked with creating the simulated building collapse.

"It’s kind of a real life exercise,” said Bruce Savage, department chair of Civil and Environmental Engineering. "They get to evaluate the different forces and different scenarios the training teams want to partake in, and then evaluate what’s going to make this safe but still allow them a realistic opportunity to test their skills."

The Disaster Response Complex is available to first responders all over the region. New scenarios will be created by engineering students.

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Emma Iannacone

Emma is a reporter for Local News 8 and KIDK Eyewitness News 3.

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