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Simulator teaches community about emergency responses

By Rachael Plath, Good Morning Colorado Meteorologist/Reporter, r.plath@krdo.com
Published On: May 16 2013 06:17:15 PM CDT

The 911 Safety Trailer simulates severe weather and house fires in an effort to educate the community about what should be done if there is an emergency.

El Paso Teller 911 is ensuring residents in the community are ready for an emergency, and it is using a trailer to do it.

The 911 Safety Trailer simulates different scenarios to teach children and adults how to respond through experience.

The trailer simulates a kitchen fire that can spread from the oven to the garbage can and stove top.  There is a fire extinguisher that can be used to put out the fire.  During this simulation, smoke is produced.  The smoke rises to the ceiling, which teaches participants to drop to the ground and crawl beneath the smoke to safety. 

To teach participants the proper way to choose an exit during an emergency, the participant is instructed to feel the door before opening it.  In the trailer, the door is heated to 120 degrees, indicating that there is potentially fire behind the door and that the participant should choose an alternate exit route.

There is a toaster that produces smoke, a microwave that smokes when metal is inserted, there are three working phones in the trailer that participants can call 911 with.

The trailer also simulates a severe weather scenario.  A televised warning will air, the weather radio will sound, and speakers will project rain and thunder while lights flicker near the window to suggest lightning. 

“We show them the basics on how to just get outside to safety so they can call 911,” said Ben Bills, public information officer with El Paso Teller 911.  

Participants learn the following lessons in the trailer:

1. What an emergency is. 2. When and how to call 9-1-1. 3. The importance of knowing your address and phone number. 4. Knowing how to use the phones you own, and understanding landlines will transmit location information while cellphones will not. 5. How to stay safe at all times during an emergency.

The trailer is used at 50 to 70 events throughout the year.  For more information on how to reserve the trailer for an event, click here.

The trailer cost about $127,000.  It was paid for by a 70-cent tax applied to phone bills.

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