College of Engineering News • Iowa State University

Iowa Task Force 1 trains for tornado rescue in Davidson Hall

Former engineering building serves one more group before complete demolition

Iowa Task Force 1 looks for missing people in the Davidson Hall rubble.
Davidson Hall rubble

Tornadoes, fires and floods are familiar to many Iowans, but Iowa Task Force 1 has more than the average amount of knowledge of what the destruction can be from those disasters. During catastrophes with missing persons, the group travels across the state to perform search and rescue missions.

Iowa Task Force 1 has years of experience at various training sites as well as numerous real-world responses. To stay prepared, the team takes advantage of opportunities to use other training locations. The group believes using new locations from time to time breaks up the routine and gives a more realistic scenario.

Iowa Task Force 1 uses listening devices to find missing people.
Listening equipment was used that detects tapping and other faint noises

For this reason, 20 Iowa Task Force 1 members and four dogs traveled to Davidson Hall on Saturday, February 28, to take part in a training exercise that simulated a tornado that had demolished the building.

Initially, the group worked to find missing persons within the building and rubble. Because Davidson had tunnel areas underneath the floor, the search and rescue dogs could be trained in a new architectural structure. While performing the search and rescue, the group also practiced using different technologies, including listening equipment that detects tapping and other faint noises.

Iowa Task Force 1 practices shoring walls.
Creating structurally sound walls

After performing training on the inside of the building, Iowa Task Force 1 practiced their shoring skills to make walls structurally sound. Once the walls were secured, a group was sent in to make an entrance to the bathroom, which was the tornado shelter in Davidson.

Angie Jewett, environmental health and safety program coordinator, believes the training was beneficial for everyone involved. “Because the building was totally unfamiliar, Iowa Task Force 1 was able to be more realistic with the scenario. The group was also able to use training materials, such as spray paint and drilling techniques, which would not have been able to be used when training in permanent structures.”

Since the training exercise, demolition has been completed on Davidson Hall.