TEEX - creating a global community

Published:  14 February, 2014

The Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service has firmly established its Cooperative Learning Centers all over the globe, providing access to tailor-made training with an emphasis on responder safety.

College Station in Texas (US) and Bintulu in Sarawak (Malaysia) are separated by 9,615 miles of ocean, and a 14-hour time difference. It is a 66-hour round-trip in the air alone, not including travel time on land. While the two cities are diverse in language and culture, their emergency responders do share one thing in common: training from the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service (TEEX) Emergency Services Training Institute (ESTI). The International Program at TEEX/ESTI is based in East Texas, but has left its mark across the globe, coordinating on-site, customised training for global businesses, industries, municipalities, and public agencies in 73 countries across six continents.

Chris Framsted, the International Training Coordinator for TEEX/ESTI, explained: ‘TEEX has spread out over several countries, with not one particular popular location. On any given day, you can work with six different countries – Vietnam, China, Saudi Arabia, Ecuador, or Malaysia. The world becomes very, very small.’

TEEX provides its services in two ways. The first is by delivering training directly, either by the customer attending training at the famous Brayton Firefighters Training Field in College Station or by sending instructors around the world to wherever customers need them. ‘Traveling is part of what we do. Anybody that needs the training and has the appropriate facilities; we will train them,’ said Framsted.

The second way that TEEX provides its services is through partnerships with a network of Cooperative Learning Centers (CLC) that give local responders access to TEEX's curriculum. These CLCs are strategically located in various countries to reach emergency responders who do not have the resources to travel to College Station for training. Bintulu is home to the sixth (and newest) CLC; other CLC sites include Mexico, Panama, Columbia, Brazil, and Chile.

The key to the success of the International Program has been TEEX’s ability to offer a variety of courses that can be customised to meet a specific customer’s needs while also adapting to the target-countries’ response practices. While some courses are taught in English, many have been translated for overseas training; about 30 different courses have been successfully taught to international audiences, all with an emphasis on the safety of the first responder. Courses offered include: Industrial Firefighting and Emergency Response, Municipal Firefighting and Emergency Response, Technical Rescue Training, Urban Search and Rescue, Hazardous Materials training, Marine Firefighting and Safety, and Liquefied Natural Gas Response.

Framsted said that teaching an international course is a step-by-step process. TEEX courses and training facilities all focus on the safety of the first responder – the most important goal is to ensure that all responders go home at the end of the day. Framsted said he and Brian Freeman, TEEX/ESTI’s International Training Director, work closely with the prospective customer to determine what TEEX training course will fit the customer's unique needs. Then depending on the needs of the customer, teams of instructors and experts can be dispatched to the facility to conduct the training or technical assistance. The CLC in Malaysia, for example, had a 34-day course in 2013 that rotated through multiple teams of instructors for multiple disciplines: Hazardous Materials, Rescue, and Firefighting. Framsted said the length of time a team stays is dependent on however long it takes to deliver the material the customer needs.

In addition to the CLCs, TEEX’s largest international project to date was started in 2005, when TEEX began collaborating with state-owned Qatar Petroleum to build an emergency services training facility in Ras Laffan, Qatar. Now operational, the 1km2 Ras Laffan Emergency and Safety Training College (RLESC) aims to support responders throughout the Middle East and North Africa. The facility is currently staffed by nine full-time TEEX employees. Chief Robert Moore, Director of ESTI said: ‘This is a very big operation, and the culmination of about five years of assessments, collaboration and negotiation. We began staffing slowly as we saw the demand for training grow in the region. The vision is for this to be the primary training facility for emergency responders in the Middle East and North Africa.’

Although the TEEX International Program has a global scope, its work is managed by a team of only three full-time people: Framsted, Freeman, and Project Coordinator Paola Treviño. The three come from very diverse backgrounds, and bring a wealth of different experience to the program. 

The TEEX/ESTI International program continues to grow to bring important skills and safety training to responders around the world.

In 2013, TEEX/ESTI trained about 84,000 responders – of those, the international program accounted for about 42,000 in international students. Ultimately, the goal of the international program at TEEX/ESTI is to prepare emergency responders – wherever they may be – to perform their duties safely and effectively.

  • Operation Florian

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