Thursday, June 17, 2021

Work Begins on CVTC Emergency Services Project

Remodeling and addition will benefit students, current responders

Article Photo - Work Begins on CVTC Emergency Services Project

Flanked by recruits in the CVTC Law Enforcement Academy, leaders from CVTC, Market & Johnson and SDS Architects toss the ceremonial shovels of dirt to mark a construction kick-off event for the CVTC Emergency Service Education Center project approved in the April 2020 referendum.

A project to expand and remodel Chippewa Valley Technical College’s Emergency Service Education Center (ESEC) is underway, with a construction kick-off event held Monday, June 14 at the facility on CVTC’s West Campus. The $10.6 million project is the second-largest part of CVTC’s $48.8 million referendum approved in April 2020.

“This project will benefit CVTC students as they train to become the next generation of law enforcement officers, firefighters, paramedics and first responders, and also those currently serving in these essential roles in our communities,” said CVTC President Bruce Barker. “The improvements to ESEC will help emergency services workers meet new challenges by allowing us to use more simulation and technology as we train our local forces.”

The need to alleviate inadequate classroom space and provide more realistic experiences for those who will be risking their lives for their communities drove the decision to include the project in the referendum.

The project includes 27,800 sq. ft. In additions and 24,400 sq. ft. Of remodeling. Among the features are a larger indoor firearms range; dedicated spaces for simulations; increased classroom spaces; facilities for fitness, defense and arrest tactics; and an apparatus bay for FireMedic equipment.

“Currently, we don’t have a place to teach defense and arrest tactics,” Eric Anderson, director of CVTC’s Law Enforcement Academy, said. “We have to rent time and space at a local karate studio or other fitness centers to do that training now.”

Anderson added that the current firing range is about 25 yards and is adequate for handguns only. The new range will allow for shooting from 50 yards for rifle training. It will be large enough for vehicles to be pulled inside, allowing students to practice firearm skills from a common position of cover for officers.

“It will give students a chance to fire live rounds in a realistic environment,” Anderson said.

The simulation area will allow law enforcement students to sharpen their use of force decisions by having them react to what they see on a video screen. The simulation area will also provide better experiences for Emergency Medical Services students.

“Right now, we have barely enough classrooms and no room for simulation,” said Kasondra Mero, director of CVTC Paramedic, FireMedic, and EMT programs. “We sometimes have simulations in hallways and closets. The project will allow us to create more realistic spaces with lifelike training for our students.” Mark Schwartz, CVTC’s emergency services continuing education coordinator, is excited about what the improvements will bring.

“The vast majority of initial training is done here, including for volunteer fire departments,” Schwartz said. “Throughout the year, we have a lot of continuing education here, with firefighters and first responders updating and practicing their skills and testing for continued certifications. It will be better training for them because we would have better facilities.”

Speakers at the kick-off event thanked the public for making the project possible.

“I don’t know how to express my gratitude to the members of the public who supported CVTC in the referendum, said Mona Mathews, vice president of the CVTC District Board. “I’ve seen what a referendum can do for a college in new buildings and new programs.”

“This project will impact our programs and also impact the entire community,” said Dr. Shelly Olson, dean of health and emergency services.

Barker noted that the referendum passed with 62 percent of the vote. “You don’t hear a lot about public trust these days, but the public trusted CVTC.”

This will be a big year for construction on the CVTC campuses as the projects approved in the referendum are implemented. An addition to the Manufacturing Education Center for an Automation Fabrication Lab is finished and equipment is being installed this summer. Construction of the most significant project, an entirely new Transportation Education Center, is well underway on the West Campus. Smaller projects will be starting in the near future at the Chippewa Falls and Menomonie campuses as well.

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