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Emergency Response and Recovery
Training and Testing Facility

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Arial view of the DART Training and Test Bed Facility

Dart has an extensive emergency services response and recovery training and testing facility that continues to evolve and grow each year. The facility is frequently used by local, state and federal emergency service organizations. The major elements of the facility include the following:

  1. Collapse Structure Rescue Training Site
  2. Collapsed Ceiling Props
  3. Search Team Training Props
  4. Hazardous Materials Field Training Facility
  5. Shore Test Facility
  6. High Angle Rescue Training Towers
  7. Confined Space Rescue Training Props
  8. Non-confined Space Breaching Props
  9. Trench Rescue Training Props
  10. Water Rescue Training Capabilities
  11. Classroom, Meeting Room, Assembly Staging Area, and Rescue Cache Storage Facility

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DART Training Facility

The DART Training facility is approximately 6 acres and has several major components.

  1. 5000 square foot emergency operations building with classrooms and personnel lockers
  2. 5000 square foot cache and storage building
  3. 10,000 square foot concrete rubble pile
  4. 10,000 + square foot simulated concrete collapsed structure
  5. Two 65-foot tall hollow towers for high angle rescue training and confined space rescue training
  6. 45-foot tall platform for high angle rescue training
  7. Hazardous materials training facility
  8. Shore Test Facility

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Collapsed Structure Rescue Training Site

The Collapsed Structure Rescue Training Site has four major elements: a large concrete rubble pile with built in voids and rooms, a simulated concrete collapsed structure, a 30-foot long twin-engine aircraft that can be "crashed" into a portion of the collapsed structure, and large concrete loads for lifting and moving.

Collapsed Structure

The simulated concrete collapsed structure is modular in construction. Sections of the structure can be repositioned to simulate various types of collapse patterns. Walls and ceilings can be placed in collapsed or partially collapsed offset configurations. This provides realistic shoring, bracing, load lifting and supporting opportunities. Many of the six-inch thick concrete floors and walls are replaceable. This affords the trainee the opportunity to breech walls and floors in a simulated collapsed structure environment. A significant portion of the facility is setup as a confined space with limited overhead.

The structure includes both above grade and basement rooms. The basement can be flooded to simulate working in flooded or partially flooded environment. The basement can also be filled with theatrical smoke to simulate dust, fire, or hazardous material fumes. The facility can be setup to provide for 24 hours or more of collapsed structure operations for a 24-person search and rescue team.

The structure has large pieces of concrete debris that requires moving and supporting. The structure has simulated mechanical and electrical equipment rooms with associated “hazards”.

Most sections of the collapsed structure have built in cameras for monitoring the activities and progress of the participants.

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Collapsed Ceiling Props

Within DART's simulated collapsed structure are props capable of simulating the collapse of a ceiling/floor structure in a safe environment. The ceiling has four 9' x 18' sections that can be lowered to simulate various collapse patterns including pancake, lean-to, cantilever, A-frame and V-shape.

Picture shows a combination pancake and lean-to partial ceiling/floor collapse. Two separate shore systems are being constructed during collapsed structure rescue training exercise.

The collapsed ceiling prop support structure. The ceiling is supported by a chain and cable system. The ceiling is lowered by a winch system located on second floor deck. Ceiling is pined in place when in the uppermost position.

The collapsed ceiling in V-shape configuration. Two Offset box shores (Modified lace post) are being constructed during shore exercise by two separate squads.

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Debris Pile

The rubble/debris pile provides an opportunity to train with breaching equipment in a somewhat unstable offset environment. The rubble pile also provides an opportunity for training rescue specialists in the techniques required to support unstable loads in a dynamic environment. Another important feature of the rubble pile is its unique capacity to support the various elements of search training. There is over 500 feet of tunnels and 14 built in void spaces within the rubble pile. Not only is the pile used for training and testing of search dogs, it is also used for the development and testing of search robots.

Large Concrete Loads

The training facility has large concrete loads for lifting, moving and supporting. Loads very from a few hundred pounds to more than 10 tons.


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Rescue Cache

The DART rescue cache for training has all the tools, equipment and materials necessary to support any collapse structure search and rescue operation that can be simulated at the site. This includes cranes, backhoes, large forklifts and other heavy equipment.

The site is used to teach an annual advanced collapsed structure rescue class sponsored by DART. The site has also been used by FEMA, the California Office of Emergency Services, Mission College School of Fire Science, several Santa Clara County fire departments, the Department of Energy, the Department of Justice, the Army Corp of Engineers, the Industrial Emergency Council, Several National Labs, the National Institute of Science and Technology, and several of the California US&R Task Forces.

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Search Team Training Props

The Ames Moffett Field Facility (home of DART) has several props and facilities that are conducive to search team training, including training for canines and their handlers. The collapsed structure rescue training site has an extensive rubble pile with voids, tunnels, and rooms. This has proven to be an excellent prop for training search dogs and their handlers. Additionally, it has proven effective in training non-canine search team personnel. The simulated collapsed structure also provides an excellent prop for most aspects of search training.

In addition to DART's collapsed structure rescue training facility, Ames Moffett Field has several abandoned barracks that lend themselves to search operations and they have frequently been used for just that purpose.

DART's search props are frequently used by organizations such as:

  1. California Rescue Dog Association (CaRDA)
  2. Canine Specialized Search Team - Santa Clara County's Medical Examiner's Office Human Remains Detection Team
  3. Monterey Bay Search Dogs
  4. Wilderness Finders (WOOF)
  5. California Office of Emergency Services
  6. Federal Emergency Management Agency Disaster Search Canine Teams
  7. National Disaster Search Dog Foundation (NDSDF)
  8. California Task Force Three's Search Team

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Hazardous Materials Field Training Facility

NASA Ames Research Center's DART Hazardous Materials Response Team developed a Hazardous Materials Field Training Facility. The facility follows the criteria set forth in Section 2560 of Title 8 California Code of Regulations (CCR). The facility was inspected by the California Specialized Training Institute (CSTI) and is a California State-certified field training facility for hazardous material responders.

The Field Training Facility was designed to provide the most authentic training for hazardous materials responders, including emergency response, fire and industrial personnel. The facility provides students a realistic setting to perform a multitude of hazardous materials response scenarios such as rail car response and overturned or over-pressurized tank cars. The facility permits "live" responses to be performed in a controlled, low risk environment. The facility includes all of the props required by CSTI and the State Fire Marshall for certification, plus additional props to provide a challenge for advanced participants.

Included in the facility is a chlorine tank railcar outfitted with three dome/valve configurations representing typical systems used in commerce. The railcar is designed to leak from various valves and fittings giving the student practical hands-on experience.

There are four-highway tank cars located within the facility, two MC 306 and two hopper trailers. These serve as functional props simulating various situations. The hopper trailers allow the student to gain experience in tanker rollover operations, dry material decontamination and various valve and fitting leak mitigation scenarios. The MC 306 cars provide an occasion to become proficient in stinger operations and valve repair.

The CSTI certified DART HazMat instructors endeavor to create an ambitious learning environment for the students. A one-ton chlorine cylinder is located at the facility. The cylinder is designed to leak from fusible plugs and a fill valve. It is equipped with two separate leak sources enabling the student to gain experience in both liquid and gas leak repair. The instructor controls phase changes as the student manipulates the cylinder. Two pipe configurations, commonly called trees, were planned to leak from various valves, sprinkler heads, fittings, flanges and penetrations. The pipe configurations range from 1 1/2 inches to 12 inches in diameter. The instructor, in order to furnish the students with many challenging situations, controls material flow.

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Shore Test Facility

The heart of DART's shore test facility is an outdoor 75-ton gantry crane. There are two shore test stands, both of which can incrementally loaded by four hydraulic cylinders that support loads in excess of 60-tons. Vertical shores from 3-feet tall to 12-feet tall can be tested. Through control of the hydraulic cylinders, loads can be equalized to the shore or offset.

Shores can also be tested dynamically. The facility has an 18-ton slab has two large rotating motors with offset cams that can generate vibrations in three planes. The frequency of vibration can be adjusted from under a cycle per second to over 20 cycles per second. The shores can also be tested by imposing a static load of 18-tons and a dynamic lateral load of 20-tons. The dynamic load can be cycled back and forth.

Horizontal shores, including offset horizontal can be tested in a special pit that was designed for shore testing using high-pressure airbags. Shores can be tested in excess of 60 tons of applied force.


For additional information on shore testing, see the DART Shore Testing Facilities section.

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High Angle Rescue Training Towers

Students working on one of the 65 foot towers.

DART has two 65 foot tall former TRW telecommunication towers with 15 foot diameter platforms and one 45 foot tall tower with a 24’x16’ open grate deck. All three are used for High Angle Rescue training. The two 65’ towers can be used for practice rescuing of an injured person from a high place or transferring the subject between the towers. The two towers are hollow, which allows for practice training in raising or lowering an injured person in a confined shaft. The upper shaft diameter is 3’ and the lower diameter is 6’.

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Confined Space Rescue Training Props

DART's Confined Space Rescue Training Props are composed of the concrete rubble pile, the simulated concrete collapsed structure, the two training towers, and any structure that can be built or dug to simulate rescue in a confined space. DART also has at it's disposal for training exercises, the many buildings and tunnels throughout the Ames Research Center and Moffett Federal Air Field complex.

Non-confined Space Breaching Props

DART can setup multiple configurations and scenarios for practicing the breaching of concrete walls and floors/ceilings in a non-confined space environment.

Non-confined space breaching prop of 8" floor slab with metal deck pan. Participants get to select appropriate tools to accomplish the objective. An assortment of tools is available for use. Tools not pictured include concrete cutting chain saws and various types of jackhammers.

Non-confined space breaching prop of 8" thick concrete wall with #3 rebar on 6" center. Note triangular cut in vertical slab. Breach made with concrete cutting chainsaw.


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Trench Rescue Training Props

DART has various concrete lined trenches and the tools (backhoes, bulldozers, heavy equipment, etc.) to create most trench exercise scenarios. Click here to see pictures from a past trench exercise.

Classroom, Meeting Room, Assembly Staging Area, and Rescue Cache Storage Facility

DART has a 5K square foot building as it's center of operations. The building provides space for team meetings, classroom training, and lockers for team members. There also is a 5K square foot building that is used for vehicle and rescue cache storage.

Rescue and Medical team material cache storage. It also provides a staging area for training exercises and responding to real live activation's and deployments that come up.

The classroom area is capable of handling ~30 seated students with tables (60 without tables) using most forms of multimedia presentation such as; TV, VCR, DVD, overhead projection, computer screen projection, and other classroom presentation tools.


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