Wednesday, January 7, 2015

OU-C in the news: Campus reopens training center



Chillicothe Gazette (September 2014)

CHILLICOTHE – On the 13th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Ohio University-Chillicothe reopened a seven-acre facility that helps prepare local fire and law enforcement personnel for harrowing situations.

The campus' Emergency Response Training Center, which has been sitting dormant since 2008, bustled with activity Thursday as first responders joined university officials for a ribbon-cutting ceremony before taking part in the Ross County Safety Council's annual training exercise.
Originally conceived and built in the late 1990s, the center now boasts training stations for rappelling and climbing, silo rescue, propane firefighting training, confined-space entry, hazardous materials training, vehicle extrication and decontamination.

In addition, the Chillicothe Police Department provided active shooter and K-9 demonstrations.
Calling the reopened center a "real labor of love," OU-C Associate Dean Brenda Phillips said, “Today is the day Ohio University-Chillicothe makes a commitment to continue to repair our first responders.”

Phillips, who taught in the Oklahoma State University's Fire and Emergency Management Administration program before coming to OU-C a little more than a year ago, was given the go-ahead by campus and university officials to revive the training grounds. As part of that effort, she had the rappelling tower rebuilt and tested by a structural engineer.

Phillips also obtained a confined-space trailer, which along with two hazmat trailers can be taken off-site for training.

“We have more women going into the profession, so we bought female firefighting gear,” she said.

Phillips is optimistic local agencies will utilize the facility. To that end, the university is allowing it to be used free of charge until the beginning at November, at which point a fee — set by an advisory board — will be charged to cover the expenses of maintaining the grounds and structures.

Later this month, the Chillicothe Fire Department will lead training in vehicle extrication. In early October, the fire department will come back to train in a flashover simulator. In 2016, a countywide training exercise will be conducted at the center, Phillips said.

“This is a great asset. ... It gives us a little more freedom and more room to train,” Chillicothe Fire Chief Jeff Creed said. “We do send people to the fire academy in Columbus for training, but that's usually on an individual basis. This gives us the ability to train as a team, as a shift.”
Ross County Sheriff George Lavender used the facility when he was the commander of the tactical team. He said he expects his deputies will get a lot of use out of the rappelling tower and the obstacle course, not only for physical fitness but to help prepare for potential SWAT team scenarios.

“You never want to flush someone out of a building from the bottom up. You want to start from the top flush them toward the bottom,” Lavender said while explaining why rappelling exercises are helpful.

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