Seabee leaders praise disaster training center

By Steve Phillips - bio | email

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX)-The commander of the Gulfport Seabee base says a new disaster recovery center will help train "the next greatest generation".

Leaders of the Naval Mobile Construction Battalion dedicated a new six million dollar training facility Tuesday afternoon.

The facility teaches military men and women how to respond to various disasters, from hurricanes to terrorist attacks.

It's a combination of classroom learning and real time drills, like putting on your gas mask and protective suit in time to save yourself and move forward with the mission.

"When you get here, put your masks on," shouts the instructor, "Nine seconds to get your mask on, nine minutes to get your suits on. Let's go!"

Seabees in training now benefit from a brand new, six million dollar disaster recovery training center. One great improvement is a new gas chamber, called the "confidence chamber", with a state of the art fan system.

"Instead of taking 24 hours to air out after each use, the space is now aired out within 30 minutes. We also have more square footage, which eliminates crowding in the space and allows more students and instructors," said training commander Stephanie Jones.

A tower complex is the cornerstone of the new training facility. Students can practice various rescue techniques, lowering victims to safety, using ropes and ladders.

They also train inside darkened rooms,. feeling their way toward those needing help.

"And feeling out as far as they can into the middle of the room, while still in contact with the wall. They're looking for these victims we have placed in the building," said senior chief, Al Jones.

With much more classroom space, and enhanced "hands on" opportunities, the base commander says the new center will better prepare military men and women for whatever dangers they may face.

"The people we send through here are going in harms way. Going in harms way. Whether they're going down range, to the desert, or they're going down the beach after a hurricane helping this local community," said NMCB commander, Captain Ed Brown.

"When they're reacting to events, they don't need to think. They have the training. They have the background," said Capt. Brown.

The disaster training center is not just for Seabees. Airmen and sailors are also training. Some 4500 students go through the training center each year.