Construction ramps up at Preparedness Training Center

SCENARIO-BASED TRAINING -- Employees from Joe Jackson Plastering in Newport at work on the "Main Street" cityscape user construction at the state Preparedness Training Center at the former county airport in Whitestown. When complete later this year, there will be simulated retail shops, businesses, a school, a bank, a courtroom and post office to create a realistic training environment for first responders. More photos and story on page 2.

TRAINING OPPORTUNITIES -- An exterior view of the cityscape project that's under construction at the state Emergency Preparedness Center. The complex will offer scenario-based training in a realistic and environmentally accurate setting. On the exterior, there will be a simulated city block with curb cuts, streets, sidewalks, traffic lights, storefronts and entrances into a myriad of venues. The interior covers nearly an acre and replicates a life-size urban setting.

NOT THE RITZ --A four-room hotel, two units downstairs and two upstairs, is being incorporated into the new state-of-the-art training facility for first responders. The emphasis is on reality-based scenarios. For example, instead of imagining a fire in a room, trainees will be greeted with smoke.

WHITESTOWN -- Construction is well under way on a specialized training component at the state Preparedness Training Center at the former county airport.

Taking shape inside and outside a building that covers nearly an acre is a "Main Street" cityscape that replicates a life-size urban setting. On the exterior, it will simulate a city block with curb cuts, streets, sidewalks, traffic lights, store fronts, and entrances into a myriad of venues including a school, businesses, hotel and post office. The venues that comprise the cityscape are designed specifically to support scenario- based training.

Each section is being equipped to fully immerse the student into any given scenario. The use of realistic props and added special effects will help provide a realistic user experience.

The objective is to bring students to the edge where they believe, if only for that moment, that they are part of the scenario and not part of a training exercise.

The facility boasts state-of-the-art technology that enables instructional teams to introduce environmental effects that create realistic conditions and feedback year-round. Some of these features include advanced lighting and temperature controls, systems that provide the ability to inject smoke and sound, and more than 200 cameras that can monitor and provide real-time feedback for instructional teams and students alike. These systems will all be operated from a centralized control room.

Construction began in January 2013 after several years of conceptualization, design, and development. Completion is expected this fall.

Most recently, two contracts to provide fire pumps and electrical service for the cityscape building project were announced by the state Office of General Services.

The center is operated by the state Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services. The facility occupies approximately 723 acres of the former airport.