Albany, NY - July 16, 2018 - Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced training will begin today at the newly completed Swift Water Flood Training Center dedicated solely to training New York State's first responders. Located at the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services' State Preparedness Training Center in Oriskany, Oneida County, this state-of-the-art facility is the only training center of its kind dedicated to training the state's fire, law enforcement, and EMS responders on the technical skills necessary to perform water rescues in controlled conditions.
"The completion of this advanced training center is a major step forward in our efforts to ensure first responders across the state are equipped with the expertise needed to protect New York's communities," Governor Cuomo said. "As we prepare for the uncertainties of extreme weather, this unique facility will help provide the best training possible to keep New Yorkers safe."
This unique training facility occupies approximately seven acres of State Preparedness Training Center property in Oriskany and includes a three-acre pond, a concrete swift water channel, and an urban flood simulator to allow rescue personnel to train in flooded streets and buildings. The facility will support training in the various techniques and procedures necessary to undertake these rescue operations, including shore-based rescue, "Go" rescues where rescue personnel enter the water or swim to complete the operation, aerial rescue operations, and emergency boat maneuvers. These training features combined, will make the facility a first of its kind training venue dedicated solely for training first responders.
DHSES and the Office of General Services partnered in the development of this facility. The project, which was competitively bid, cost $9 million and created approximately 100 construction jobs in the Mohawk Valley region.
There are over 100,000 firefighters in 1,800 departments and 66,500 police officers in 580 departments across New York that can use this facility to perform rescue operations in swift water or flooding scenarios, including:
Motorists stranded or trapped by rising flood waters;
Individuals trapped in swift water conditions; and
Individuals trapped inside, or on the roof of a flooded building.
This is the latest milestone in a multi-year, $42 million capital improvement to the State Preparedness Training Center located in Oriskany, Oneida County. The State is committed to having the best trained first responders in the nation and the continued investment in this training facility as well as capital improvements slated for the New York State Academy of Fire Science located in Montour Falls reflects this commitment to the safety and security of those who live, work, and visit New York State.
Flooding can occur during any season of the year and is the largest natural threat to homes, families and businesses in New York State. As witnessed during Hurricane Irene, Tropical Storm Lee, and Superstorm Sandy, floods can be widespread, effecting large geographic portions of the population, and can cause cascading impacts to our infrastructure such as wide spread power outages and fuel shortages and can devastate the state's economy. As recently as this past winter and early spring, over 50 ice jams caused flooding issues on rivers and streams across the state which resulted in damage to nearby homes and businesses, and caused residents in the Fort Covington community located in the North Country, to be rescued or evacuated by New York Task Force 2, the State's Urban Search and Rescue Team operated by the Office of Fire Prevention and Control.
According to the National Weather Service, on average, floods cause eight billion dollars in damages and 89 fatalities annually. To date, New York State has received more FEMA - Major Disaster Declarations than all but three states, with 73 declarations since 1953 and the majority related to flooding.
Although risk will never be completely eliminated, New York has made major strides in reducing risk and enhancing resilience to the effects of flooding throughout the state. The use of this new water rescue facility at the State Preparedness Training Center will be one more innovative method to train our emergency response teams to safety execute rescues in controlled conditions and will greatly enhance the abilities of our state and local first responders to keep New Yorkers safe.
First responders can register to receive swift water and flood rescue training, as well as view other training opportunities, by visiting the State Preparedness Training Center's calendar.
Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services Commissioner Roger L. Parrino, Sr. said, "Preparing our first responders to assess a situation and respond quickly to life threatening emergencies involving swift moving water is a critical skill needed for flooding events. This new, one of kind facility will be a valuable addition to the State Preparedness Training Center and will allow our fire, law enforcement and EMS students from across the state to gain the expertise to keep their communities safe."
Office of General Services Commissioner RoAnn Destito said, "Since taking office, Governor Cuomo has faced a number of weather-related emergencies across the State and has made it a priority to continue to improve the training opportunities and skills of our vital first responders. I am proud that the OGS Design and Construction team had a role in creating this facility, which is providing critical hands-on training to those who help keep us safe during emergency situations."
State Fire Administrator Francis Nerney said, "Scheduling courses for the ideal conditions for training on natural bodies of water is often difficult. With this facility up and running, we have ideal conditions for more months of the year, which means more first responders can take this type of specialized training back to their departments and ultimately to help safeguard the communities they serve."
Firemen's Association of the State of New York President Ken Pienkowski said, "New York's firefighters are being called upon to perform ever-more complex and intricate rescues. Swift water rescue requires highly specialized training, and this new facility will help ensure that rescuers are able to practice these lifesaving skills in a controlled setting. This will benefit both first responders and potential victims. FASNY thanks Governor Cuomo and NYS Fire Administrator Nerney for their dedication to the safety of all New Yorkers and for making this facility a reality."
New York State Association of Fire Chiefs Executive Director & CEO Jerry DeLuca said, "Due to natural and manmade conditions, the fire services in New York state is being called upon more frequently to conduct swift water rescues across the state. This new training facility will allow firefighters and emergency personnel from throughout New York to be thoroughly, properly and safely trained to deal with these hazardous conditions. Training will no longer be dependent on finding a creek or river with proper conditions for training. I commend Governor Cuomo and NYS Fire Administrator Nerney for the foresight to develop this state of the art training facility."
Senator Joseph A. Griffo said, "We are pleased that the New York State Preparedness Training Center continues to grow. This latest expansion will help to provide first responders with essential training and skills when it comes dealing with water-related situations and rescues and will further enhance the key role the center plays in the security and safety of our state."
Assembly Member Anthony Brindisi said, "The completion of this state-of-the-art training facility will improve our ability to ensure that first responders in every region of this state have the experience and knowledge they need for an emergency situation. With increased incidents of extreme weather and flooding, it is necessary that we invest in the safety and security of New York, and I applaud the Governor's efforts to ensure these dedicated men and women receive proper training to keep our residents safe."
Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente said, "This addition to the State Preparedness Training Center bring additional first responders from across the state to the region to enhance their training and skills. This will result in additional business to the region and will equip our responders to better protect the public against the dangers associated with flooding."