CRISIS CITY, Kan. (AP) — A mock community in central Kansas that provides disaster-response training to the military and emergency responders has been expanding as more organizations want to use it.
Crisis City, which opened in October 2009 southwest of Salina on property owned by the Air Force, hosts training drills that simulate various catastrophes, such as an active shooter, a train derailment or a building collapse. The various venues at Crisis City are designed to provide law enforcement, emergency medical personnel and the military with hands-on training.
“It’s kind of like an amusement park for first responders,” said Joe Pruitt, program consultant and manager.
Crisis City trains groups from Kansas and other states, including Missouri, Nebraska and Texas. Among those who have trained at the center are the Army, FBI, Secret Service and various state public safety agencies. The groups that train at Crisis City pay a fee to use the center unless they’re a Kansas first-responder organization.
Some colleges also train at the site, such as Pittsburg State University’s construction program, which did a hazardous materials exercise, Pruitt said.
Pruitt said former governor Kathleen Sebelius and then-Kansas adjutant general Tod Bunting were instrumental in getting the mock city running to boost the state’s ability to respond to disasters and other emergencies. The facility, which is under the jurisdiction of the Kansas Adjutant General’s Department and operated by the Kansas Division of Emergency Management, is currently expanding to 155 acres.
And a shooting course for which registration opened just last week is already three-fourths full, The Kansas City Star reported (http://bit.ly/P7xsn5 ).
Sharon Watson, spokeswoman for the Kansas Adjutant General’s Department, said the Kansas Legislature provided $9 million to build Crisis City but several organizations have donated equipment and materials. BNSF Railway and Union Pacific Railroad, for example, contributed rail cars, a locomotive and track and the Salina Airport Authority donated an airplane fuselage.
“Donations keep us going,” Pruitt said.
The training venues include a simulated rail derailment, a collapsed building, a five-story technical tower to practice high-rise rescues, a leaking pipeline, an active shooter building, a K-9 agility course and an urban village to simulate search-and-rescue drills and close-quarters, small-arms combat. The center also has a Huey helicopter for search-and-rescue exercises.
There are other training complexes around the U.S., including Disaster City, operated by the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service, and the Guardian Centers, an 830-acre privately run campus in Perry, Ga. But Pruitt said, unlike Crisis City, some centers offer training in only one or two areas.
“So having this many different venues in one location, you can have drills on everything from a tornado to a train derailment to a collapsed school or hospital, all on the same grounds,” he said.
Information from: The Kansas City Star, http://www.kcstar.com