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Forget ‘Guitar Hero’: FEMA wants you to play ‘Disaster Hero’ in upcoming emergency response game

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Caroline May
Political Reporter

Together with developer Legacy Interactive, the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) announced plans on Wednesday to create a web-based video game that will be funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The game, named “Disaster Hero,” is designed to teach civilians emergency preparation skills and methods.

In a press release distributed June 16, ACEP said, “The web-based game will be targeted to multiple audiences, including children, early teens, parents, caregivers and teachers, and will focus on what to do before, during and after a disaster. The game and associated website will emphasize getting an emergency kit, having an emergency plan and being informed.”

“Disaster Hero” will engage its participants in preparatory activities for disasters — such as hurricanes, tornadoes, and earthquakes — through downloadable puzzles, quizzes, and activities.

According to the ACEP, the Department of Homeland Security will spend $1,558,570 dollars to develop this game.

Rick Murray, director of the department of EMS and disaster preparedness for ACEP, told The Daily Caller that “Disaster Hero” is the third ACEP project that the Department of Homeland Security has funded. However, the production of “Disaster Hero” is the first time that ACEP has used the money to create an interactive web-based learning game. Previous projects were directed at hands-on and web-based training of emergency personnel.

“We hope to use children’s enjoyment of games as a conduit to make families aware of pre-planning strategies to be ready for disasters,” Murray said. “We are repackaging information that is already out there into a fun way to learn.”

The grant was provided through the Competitive Training Grant Program, according to FEMA spokeswoman Rachel Racusen.

“Given that this program is still under development, FEMA will continue to work with the American College of Emergency Physicians, as we do all grant recipients, to monitor their progress in developing the software and ensure that it meets the intended purpose of the grant: to educate parents and children on how to prepare for and respond to emergencies,” Racusen said.

“That’s a goal we can all agree is worthwhile,” she added. “FEMA is committed to making sure that our vital taxpayer dollars are spent as wisely as possible to help strengthen our homeland security and national resilience.”

In May the Department of Homeland Security came under fire for cutting New York’s mass-transit security grants by 27% and port-security grants by 25%.

The game is expected to be released in 2011.

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