SALINE COUNTY – Great Bend Fire Department firefighters are among more than 230 emergency personnel from across Kansas taking part in an intensive a two-day, large-scale training exercise that wraps up today in Saline County. First responders, emergency managers and other members of the public safety professions were invited to participate in and observe the exercise and tour the state-owned Crisis City training facility.
Among those participating are members of the Taskforce 5 out of Homeland Security’s Southcentral Kansas Region, which includes Great Bend, Newton, Hutchinson, Sedgwick County and Winfield. Great Bend Fire Chief Mike Napolitano, who was at the event, said five of his firefighters attended Wednesday and five were attended today.
Crisis City is a multidiscipline training facility operated by the Kansas Division of Emergency Management eight miles southwest of Salina. The facility’s training areas are designed to give law enforcement, fire departments, emergency medical personnel, military and other first responders practical, hands-on training tailored to their professional needs.
“This is pretty impressive,” Napolitano said. His teams were working with a simulated tornado strike.
“This facility allows emergency responders from all over the state to come together and train for a disaster exactly as they would respond to a real event,” said Maj. Gen. Lee Tafanelli, Kansas adjutant general and director of Kansas Division of Emergency Management. “Working together in this environment provides all of us the opportunity to improve how we handle disasters in Kansas.”
Exercise participants will respond to a simulated, widespread disaster involving a number of the Crisis City training venues.
“This is a great opportunity for those who have never been to Crisis City to get an up-close look at what it has to offer and start thinking about how our facilities can help them maximize their training dollars,” said Dennis Colsden, KDEM regional emergency management coordinator.
Participants include members of the South Central Incident Management Team, Southwest Incident Management Team, Kansas Task Force 5, Kansas Highway Patrol, state Search and Teams and Community Emergency Response Teams. Personnel from the Kansas Division of Emergency Management, Kansas State Fire Marshall’s Office, Kansas Department of Health and Environment, Salina Fire Department, University of Kansas Fire and Rescue Training Institute and other local and state agencies will operate the simulation cell that provides exercise injects, conduct exercise evaluations, serve as safety officers and fulfill other support functions.
Crisis City training venues include a simulated rail disaster, collapsed building, high angle rescue tower, pipeline isolation and repair, active shooter building, K-9 agility course, urban village and the Crisis City operations building, which includes classroom space and an observation deck that gives trainers and evaluators an overview of all the training areas.
Crisis City was developed to fill the need to enhance the state’s capability to defend against terrorism threats and respond to disasters and emergencies. Since then the mission of Crisis City has expanded to “Provide Kansas first responders and those who do the dirty work, including the Kansas National Guard and our public and private partners, with a world class, multi-discipline, multi-agency training environment that has no rival.” A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held Oct. 1, 2009, to officially open the facility.