August 15, 2014
You really should have been with us at Disaster City! Disaster City is a Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service (TEEX) facility reminiscent of a Hollywood movie set near College Station, TX. TEEX serves as a training ground for the Texas Task Force 1, a search and rescue team that helped during national emergencies including 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina. The Disaster City program was part of the Residency week for the 50 member team in the EMBA class of 2016 at May’s Business School. I was fortunate to have had the opportunity to be part of this unique learning activity program.
The team of professionals from TEEX who conducted the training activities had planned the activities meticulously and engaged us in meaningful conversation before and after each activity. After briefing us on the safety precaution, we were divided into 6 teams. Each team was assigned to each of the six stations - earthquake zone, train wreck zone, dark room simulation, rescue from tall building, repelling zone, and road block activity zone.
Our team of 10 members were assigned the first task of searching for victims in the rubbles of a building that had collapsed from an earthquake. We took turns crawling though narrow tunnels to look for victims. As we reached the center of the building, we were surprised to see an injured victim in the middle of the rubble. As a team we had to figure out a way to rescue the victim to safety.
While the frantic search and rescue operations were in full swing, we were suddenly surrounded by media correspondents with the camera and all their paraphernalia, asking us questions about the situation. It’s not always easy to communicate effectively under stress. It is indeed a special skill in communication to address the media. We learnt valuable lessons in communication through these exercises.
All the exercises planned for the day were designed to teach unique aspects of leadership and communication. There were 2 activities that truly tested my mental endurance. It was the dark room simulation where we had to rescue fire victims and the repelling exercise. I am usually terrified of darkness and height. My team cheered and encouraged me to go through the…