We have all seen videos of mock police and military training in specialty centres that are designed to allow the individuals to test out their skills. From themed firing ranges to simulated burning houses, these individuals have received first-hand experience in a relatively safe environment. It seems however that areas that have fallen short in the true training would be disaster recovery and engagement, etc. After all, how can you train in real-time what to do when a whole town floods, or a large scale building collapses?
The logistics of setting up a mock scenario of this sort would be a nightmare and virtually impossible… or would it? There are locations out there unknown to most outside of certain professions that can not only set up these sort of scenarios but have large scale facilities dedicated to them specifically. These facilities can offer anything from tactical usage for military and police hostage situations to victims of full scale building collapsing and pipeline emergencies.
The Guardian Centers in Georgia (USA)is the largest Disaster Planning centre in the country. It is a virtual paradise for training when it comes to the “worst case scenario”. The 830 ac re complex allows for virtually any disaster on any scale for up to 7,000 participants including a full scale, 75 acre cityscape and interstate sections. Add to this tunnel system for players to a collapsed three city block system, a helipad for training and 24/7 access to simulate night and day emergencies.
An additional and very useful location added to the map after the Hurricane Katrina disaster was the basin. This 5,500,000 gallon basin features a floodable 8ft depth (or less depending on the situation) and has 8 single story homes with interior rooms that can be submerged for residential search and rescue operations. The flooding of this basin can be done at high speeds to simulate rapidly rising water levels for quick removals, etc.
Lastly there is a 1,700ft fully enclosed mass transit/subway system that includes 8 complete train cars, all of which are repositionable in the dual North and South bound tracks. These can be used to simulate shooter scenarios, pinned or crushed victims, biological attacks or explosive device retrieval/removal, etc.
Crisis City in Kansas (USA)is another example. With emergency crew managed debris areas, a four story collapse building. The tubes they put bodies and volunteers into are often moved or re-drilled to allow for a change in scenario, specifically for reoccurring training situations. Predefined empty spaces are kept empty to allow for automobile placement (loaned from local junk yards).In addition a wooden structure made from, recycled pallets allows emergency crews to test retrieval from wooden structures such a tornado-destroyed home. This can be very useful when training K9 units for finding buried victims.
Consider the logistical nightmare of placing (sometimes) live actors into a collapsed concrete building at night and making it as real as possible, all the while considering the safety of both the actors and the participants. Now consider the level of detail used when constructing the theme for these situation parks must borderline as close to realism as possible to achieve the full effect for the participants.
This level of detail is not accidental, but meticulously planned to keep the participants in the moment and to gauge their response time, etc. in a real-world emergency. If the imagery of the scenario is broken, the participant is reminded of the staged nature of the setup and will not respond accordingly. With that in mind it is easy to see why situation parks such as these and many more are sprouting up all over the world and why they are necessary. If more of these parks pop up and are supported by both the governments and the community they reside in, it is clear they can only help our service men and women respond faster and train in a more realistic fashion to real world scenarios.
Why train virtually, when you can train in a real life situation, with real rubble, real water, dirt, smoke and real screaming victims. This is what is needed to prep for any emergency, full immersive theming.