Kansas law enforcement train for catastrophes at facility - KCTV5

Kansas law enforcement train for catastrophes at special facility

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SALINA, KS (KCTV) -

Law enforcement officials can prepare from catastrophes ranging from school shootings to devastating tornadoes at a special facility near Salina.

Crisis City has been called one of the best kept secrets in Kansas. It provides a place for first responders and emergency management officials to prepare to disasters.

"It is like an amusement park for law enforcement," said Joe Pruitt of the Kansas Department of Emergency Management. "We're probably the best kept secret in Kansas."

The facility is about eight miles from Salina and is near the nation's largest Army National Guard bombing range.

The paint-filled ammunition comes out with the speed of an actual .223-caliber bullet. Officers roam the shoot-house, which emulates an actual school.

"You can shoot it up. You don't have to worry about punching holes in the walls. The layout is very similar," said Officer Lynn Atchison of the Gardner Police Department. "And then there's an observation deck to learn after you've already gone through it, to learn what you could have done better."

The "urban village" has a layout like a housing development. A mock up of a four-story building collapse has more than just concrete rubble. It has bits of wire, metal and rebar sticking up and you have to walk on unlevel rocks to get to victims. A dummy can be hidden underneath the rubble or a real person can be tucked away in a concrete cylinder, overturned cars, a plane crash, a derailed train with hazardous materials inside, a ruptured pipeline.

It's all there.

"We can basically put you in a city where any crisis possible is happening from the moment you drive into our gate," Pruitt said.

Canine units can train at Crisis City. The agility course draws first responders from as far away as the Deep South. Dogs can train finding people and bodies in rubble piles as part of search-and-rescue work.

The land was once a prisoner of war camp during World War II. The state of Kansas spent $9 million to establish Crisis City.

Dennis O'Connor of Government Training Institute said Crisis City stands out in the Midwest for its variety and versatility.

"When you come here, this is all one package," O'Connor said. "I've gone to a lot of training places where I am stuck with a 12-by-12 building and that's all so this to me is probably one of the better facilities."

Kansas agencies can use the facility for free. Out-of-state agencies must pay a fee for the drills and practices.

But more and more governments are ponying up the funds.

Crisis City is also available for tours to the general public.

"People are finding out that we are here," Pruitt said. "We're no longer, maybe, the best kept secret in Kansas. We are growing and as word gets out, first responders are responding to the ability to come out here and train."

Click here to read more about Crisis City.

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