Police and Fire Training on a Budget

Police and Fire departments, municipalities, insurance companies, and private driver training companies are searching for an economically justifiable program to reduce risk from the rising cost of vehicle accidents and operational costs.

Challenged Training Budget

Challenged training budgets, near non-existence capital construction budget can overlook the fact that not only do police departments fight more civil litigation involving collisions and pursuits than anything else, vehicle related incidents are the number one cause of Police Officer injuries and the second leading cause of deaths. Firefighter Fatality statistics reported in the NFPA 2011  report also provides startling details into vehicle operations and injury.

A viable, proven and economically feasible solution to emergency vehicle operations (EVO) that is trending upward is the SKIDCAR.  In use today by almost 300 Police, Fire, EMS, Military Security Forces, school systems, and private driver training companies in North America alone and approximately 27,000 drivers are getting a lesson in a SKIDCAR or SKIDTRUCK® each year.

The SkidCar duplicates conditions where spins and skids  occur at low speeds in a controlled environment allowing students to experience what it feels like to be in a vehicle that is about to go out of control and/or is out of control.

Just as police officers need to qualify with their service weapons on a regular basis, the Adams County Sherriff’s deputies also need to qualify in their vehicles” said Lieutenant Rick McNair in charge of the departments training section. “With our ever changing weather conditions here in Colorado and our large area of coverage our deputies must be prepared for any road condition at any time.”

 

How It Works

The SkidCar System is a hydraulically-controlled unit mounted to the suspension on the training vehicle, such as a police car or fire truck, that exactly duplicates the loss of tire traction at very low speeds (6 to 40 mph). Using an electro-hydraulic pump, the mechanism reduces traction by raising or lowering the vehicle’s tires from the road, duplicating hazardous driving conditions such as ice, snow, rain, or oil- or gas-slickened roads. This low-speed training tool teaches drivers how to avoid skids and loss of control. It has become a critical component of many public safety and low enforcement driver training programs. From inside the car, the instructor can control the system’s 20 different traction settings that duplicate a full range of hazardous driving conditions, and instantly lowers the tires to full contact with the road surface. The SKIDCAR requires no special surfaces or traditional EVOC track. Only a relatively smooth, reasonable sized parking lot is all that is required. Because of it’s mobility and use of set-up even small areas can be turned in to a driving range capable of training critical driving techniques and outcomes. Without question, these factors alone make the logistics, cost and time benefits of Skidcar worth serious evaluation.

Multiple Application; Nationally

Nationally the SKIDCAR has found application in many areas in addition to public safety for example the Alabama Municipal Insurance Corporation and the Municipal Workers Compensation Fund provides the Proactive Driver Training program for law enforcement personnel and other municipal employees in Alabama.  This program has proven results lowering vehicle accidents and average cost per member/claim. SKIDCAR System has been shown to instill better driving instincts to help drivers maintain control in the most difficult real-life situations.  The vehicle is designed to aid in the development of driving techniques that would be risky to learn in a regular vehicle at higher speeds.  The program in Alabama consists of a day-long session in which students are trained using the SkidCar System. The first hour of the course takes place in a classroom setting. The remainder of the program is hands-on and completed in shifts. Three participants ride in the vehicle (one driving, two in the back seat) with the instructor while the remaining six observe how the vehicle responds and help maintain the training course.

Deschutes County, Oregon  offers SKIDCAR classes seven days a week. Many insurance companies offer premium discounts for completing the course. Classes are offered to all permitted drivers, age 15 and up. Each class offers one hour of classroom instruction followed by three hours of hands-on driving experience. The all-weather driving course teaches students superior vehicle control skills for all types of road conditions. Students learn how to become proactive drivers; to think ahead during vehicle operation so they don’t need to exercise their superior skills. Each graduate is provided with a Letter and Certificate of completion. Deschutes County’s SkidCar Training Program mission is accountability behind the wheel: “100 percent vehicle control, 100 percent of the time”. Course highlights include:

  • Accountability behind the wheel: “100 percent vehicle control, 100 percent of the time”
  • Complete vehicle inspection techniques prior to operation
  • Principles of what makes tires work properly
  • Proper eye placement
  • Proper vehicle weight transfer management
  • Proper acceleration, steering and braking techniques
  • Trail braking techniques
  • Skid and slide prevention
  • Line of sight cornering techniques

Ride and Drive Demonstration

SKIDCAR SYSTEM, INC, the North American distributor of SKIDCAR sponsors several training events each year. Attendees are able to inspect, drive, and discuss training applications for this exciting and valuable asset to your driver training business, academy, or school. The in-house SKIDCAR Mobile Driver Training Program vehicle is attached to an SUV equipped with 2 wheel drive, 4 wheel drive, ABS braking, Electronic Stability Control, and Traction Control safety programs. These technologies can also be disabled for a clear reference of driver training with older vehicles lacking these modern electronic safety technologies.

The demonstration events will confirm that a multimillion dollar driving range, or very expensive wet skid pan is not needed to properly train drivers in vehicle operation, skid control, skid avoidance, and how necessary it is to use good judgment as they drive down the road.  Thought process is the most important component while driving, but many dynamic driving lessons focus on speed and skill first.

Conclusion

The SKIDCAR is unique in the industry as the only device that is adjustable for grip. Many different driving scenarios and environments can be duplicated at the push of a button. Everything from rain, loose surfaces, ice and snow, or just excessively high speed can be experienced in a SKIDCAR.

If your agency already is using a driving simulator and finds it lacking in total training capability the SKIDCAR can add an important element of realism to the driving course.  Getting out of the simulator and into a SKIDCAR can validate the driving dynamics the simulators miss, and connect the learning experience needed to build a safer driver.

We are convinced a safer, more efficient driver, can be developed at a quicker rate. With less behind the wheel time of usually worn out old training vehicles will save agencies.

Here is the contact information for SKIDCAR System at: info@skidcar.com or (866) 754-3227

Public Safety Training Centers’ – Contrasts of Direction

After looking over the past months public safety training news highlights it occurred to me that for every resounding success story there are equally disturbing ones. Carlsbad, California celebrates the grand opening of its fabulous new multi-disciplined training center and the New Jersey State Patrol reports record diversification in this year’s recruit applicants, while Central Arizona College , near Phoenix struggles to remain open.

Carlsbad, doing many things extremely well

In preparing this month’s newsletter article I fully intended to tout the hard work and accomplishments of the City of Carlsbad California, accolades they genuinely deserve. Interact Business Group worked with facility staff and the police, fire and facilities departments over the past 12 months by helping them with their daily operations plan, staffing and budgets.   I have come to learn firsthand how a forward thinking city like Carlsbad  when working together can take a very limited sized site (around 4 acres) and create a  first-class public safety training center.  I would stop short of calling it world class because of their limited site and location – they did not have space for EVOC training. A nice sized grinder area will serve them well for maneuvering and driving tactic but speed is not an option for them.

Training site facing financial woes, may close

There are disturbing issues brewing at Central Arizona College (CAC) and its Central Arizona Regional Law Officers Training Academy (CARLOTA).

It seems the nationally recognized training center is tittering on the edge of closer. Its last police recruit graduating class was July 2011.  The school continues to work hard, with a very motivated staff and excellent reputation. The problem is pretty simple. Not enough students.  In a recent article in the Maricopa Monitor by Susan Randall, James Moore CAC interim vice president for learning services summed it up. “The demand for certified officers has been dropping for some time,” When CARLOTA started in 1973, it was one of only three or four academies in Arizona, he said. There was demand from all over the state. Now there are 11 academies. In the article Georgia White, CAC’s former dean of professional and technical education said, “I think the biggest change, the tipping point, has been the economy.” AZPOST Executive director Lyle Mann said CARLOTA had a fine reputation, training more than 100 officers a year, but enrollment dropped because agencies stopped hiring. Arizona agencies hired 800 to 900 cadets a year in 2006 and 2007, he said. Then the economy slowed, and they hired only 300 to 400 in 2009 and 2010.

New Jersey – 8,500 Very Qualified Candidates.

On the east coast the contrast from Arizona could not be more pronounced. The statistics are well, staggering. Recently reported by NJTODAY.NET, more than 12,000 men and women submitted online applications, the most in any New Jersey State Police recruiting drive. More than 9,600 of them met all the initial qualifications and 8,500 scheduled themselves to take the Physical Qualification Test (PQT), which is the current phase of the process. Perhaps even more noteworthy is the diversity composition of the applicants.  NJTODAY.net reports the applicant pool entering the PQT is very strong, with 19% Hispanic, 15% Black, 14% female, 3% Asian, and 2% listing two or more categories. By comparison, the last recruiting process, held in early 2010, resulted in approximately 5,200 applicants moving into the PQT phase with 15% being Hispanic, 11% Black, and 9% female. The PQT is the first step. Applicants passing the PQT will take a written exam, those passing the written will then move into background checks, then medical and psychological examinations. There is a rough target to graduate 250 total troopers in 2013 as a part of the 152nd and 153rd State Police classes.

What does it mean; Grand Opening, Tittering on Closure and Record Turnouts? I don’t have an answer. The old adage went something like this, “There will always be crime and there will always be fires. So get a job at the force or the department and you’ll never be out of work.” The first part is true but the rules of the second part have truly changed. Today there are many new lexicons in public safety; Just for fun Google “Fire Department Brownouts”- the search yields over 14,000 hits. Or try “police department cuts” and Google brings back over 31,000 hits. The bad guys are still out there and fires still destroy lives and property. I guess the only advice I have comes from my old high school football coach. “Shut-up, buckle up, get in there and do your job. You’re on the first string and there is no second string.”

(Click here to read more on this and other fire and police training issues.)

Oscar Perez/Casa Grande Dispatch, Apache Junction police officers simulate a pursuit during a driving certification in June at the Central Arizona College CARLOTA test track

MERTS Astoria, OR

I has been a number of years. I had a free afternoon and spectacular weather; what better way to spend the beautiful than in Astoria Oregon!.

It has been nearly, 8 years since I last visited  MERTS (Marine and Environmental Research and Training Station) center.

MERTS Sign

Astoria, OR

In 1997 the college hired IBG to develop their strategic business. I am very proud to say that due to very hard work on the part of the college staff and at the time their US Congresswoman Elizabeth Furse (and a self serving plug, a strong strategic business plan) the project received funding from the US Navy and State of Oregon.

What a proud achievement MERTS has become! Their web site states the following Located on South Tongue Point, near the mouth of the Columbia River about four miles east of Astoria, MERTS is growing into the most comprehensive industrial and marine technology center in the Pacific Northwest. This a true understatement.

Main Campus Building

I took some pictures and posted them to the Interact Business Group Facebook page . The burn building was locked that was really too bad. I have never been inside! We were told that the burn rooms are in continuous use not only from the college students but the location fire departments gaining very valuable training from the building as well.

During the visit again we showed without prior notice or appointment. We were told that Bill Antilla and  Pat Killian is still working hard. Two very sold guys.

Congratulation to MERTS keep up the good work.

Training Center Money; More Than One Color

When considering funding for a new public safety training facility there are at least TWO colors of money: money for construction and money for operations. Both are important, but many times the latter is the color overlooked or misunderstood.

Today I will discuss the latter. What will it cost to operate your training center on an annual basis? This is often difficult for departments to determine. For example, how many staff members or sub-contractors are needed to keep a training center operational and running efficiently? What are the estimated yearly expenses for necessities such as electricity, water, janitorial services, maintenance and other elements necessary for a smooth-running operation? Or more specifically, what are the true costs of fuel for the live-burn fire props or the cost to run the air ventilation system at the indoor shooting range?

Fire and Police Training Dollars

New Police and Fire Training Trends Emerge

Over the past couple of years I have seen several newly constructed training centers that were built with taxpayer approved bond initiatives or projects that received CIP approval prior to the 2008 economic downturn that are now facing great budget challenges for monthly and annual operations expenses. In these cases money for construction was the easy part. Now faced with budget cutbacks and layoffs, departments are faced with finding creative ways of maintaining training mandates and at the same time trying to pay the utility bills, and keep training equipment operational. We have helped training center managers re-think and modify their daily operational activities and policies. There is no one solution or “silver bullet” that can be applied to all training center sustainability challenges.  As with most things it comes down to hard work and commitment. Based on a national perspective, I see some key trends emerging. Coninue reading:

DHS Guidance Released Preparedness Grants

Grant DollarsSecretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano released the fiscal year 2011 grant guidance and application kits for 12 U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) grant programs totaling $2.1 billion to assist states, urban areas, tribal and territorial governments, nonprofit agencies and the private sector in strengthening the nation’s ability to prevent, protect, respond to and recover from terrorist attacks, major disasters and other emergencies. In fiscal 2011, DHS grants were reduced by $780 million from the fiscal 2010 enacted level, nearly one-quarter of fiscal 2010 DHS grant funding.

Continue to read…

________________
This article reprinted by permission of:
Emergency Management
http://www.emergencymgmt.com/safety/DHS-Guidance-Fiscal-2011-Preparedness-Grants.html
 

Police Fire Facility Cost and Funding Benefit Analysis

Here’s something to think about:

These are difficult funding times, as everyone is aware.  If I’m an elected official, a Mayor, Councilperson or County Commissioner, I must ask the question:

  • “Why should I support the Public Safety Facility project?”

You must be prepared with a strong response, to answer this question—and make no mistake—this question will be asked.  If the project is in competition with other projects across the city and this is usually the case.  Ask yourself three questions:

  1. “What must I do to make my Project stand out?”

  2. “What need does it solve?”

  3.  “How do I prove it?”

You must be prepared with a strong response, to answer this question—and make no mistake—this question will be asked. Here are several example of what I mean;

  • Are you renting existing facilities to conduct training classes?  This is a Hard Cost that could be saved by having your own facility.

  • How much time are you spending driving to other centers?

  • What are your overhead costs associated with having to drive to other facilities?

  • Look at your vehicle driving / accident records.  How many accidents have you had?  Documented studies have shown at more drivers training leads to few accidents.

  •  Would your insurance premiums benefit from a strong, safe, driving consistent driving program?

  • Think about Partner with other fire agencies, or, with other law enforcement agencies across the country. Partnerships are certainly a growing trend across the country.

I have spoken about the value of Partnerships in past video casts

When considering Cost Benefits… Keep one thing in mind:

Funding is competition!

Many other departments and project are competing for the same dollar.

You have to beat your competition.  In order to do so, you must have a strong, well thought, well-document Strategic Plan. I’m Bill Booth, and this has been something to think about for a new facility design.

Providing a strong Cost Benefit Analysis is a critical element in the funding battle.

In the following 3 minute video I address this issue in some detail.