The National Alternative Fuels Training Consortium (NAFTC) hosted member training and conducted a video shoot for training purposes at the Center for National Response in Gallagher, W.Va., Oct. 10-13.

The Advanced Electric Drive (AED) Vehicle Education Program First Responder Safety Training sessions included participants from across the nation and members of the National Guard.

memorial tunnel

Memorial Tunnel, previously a part of the West Virginia Turnpike, is now utilized for emergency training and tactical purposes. Credit: NAFTC

The Center for National Response, located south of Charleston, W.Va., is an interagency and government-wide support center that conducts training for transportation and chemical safety as well as defense and homeland security purposes.

This location was designated as a nationwide training center due to the unique opportunities that can be utilized inside the Memorial Tunnel. With a length of 2,800 feet and a width of two car lanes, Memorial Tunnel was previously a part of the West Virginia Turnpike. It was closed in 1987 and later used for ventilation studies that contributed to the design of the Boston Tunnel, known as the Big Dig project.

The site was selected as a Center for National Response in 2000 after obtaining support from various state and federal agencies including the Department of Homeland Security, Department of Energy and the Defense Contract Management Agency.

Today, Memorial Tunnel features a simulated subway station and vehicles, including a transit bus, tractor-trailer and other vehicles used to simulate emergency situations. The center’s facilities also include a building debris area, a drug enforcement section and an emergency egress center. These areas are used for specialized training in chemical and high yield explosives, critical infrastructure protection, operations integration and continuity of government operations.

“The Center for National Response provided us with the resources to bring in emergency vehicles of varying sizes with full access to the site, and we didn’t have to worry about traffic or attracting onlookers to our accident simulations,” said NAFTC National Instructor Mark Schmidt.

The diverse training opportunities and emergency scenarios that can be recreated made the Center for National Response the ideal location for the NAFTC to conduct the AED First Responder Safety Training train-the-trainer (T3) workshops and to capture video footage of emergency response scenarios.

national guard

Members of the 130th Airlift Wing of the West Virginia National Guard provide emergency demonstrations for the video footage. Credit: NAFTC

The video shoots featured wrecked vehicles and various emergency scenarios involving advanced technology and hybrid electric vehicles.
“We wanted to film the video in support of first responder safety, give our members further training and allow them to have a part in the filming project,” explained Micheal Smyth, NAFTC assistant director of training and curriculum development. “We had two different shoots, one for military training purposes where we used a scenario with a Humvee and an electric hybrid vehicle and another for first responders where we used a conventional fuel vehicle and an electric hybrid vehicle.”

State Farm Insurance provided wrecked vehicles, including a hybrid electric vehicle as well as conventional, gasoline-powered vehicles to be used in the training footage. The training video will feature guidelines of dos and don’ts during emergency situations with electric drive vehicles.

fire truck

Local volunteer fire departments were on hand to participate in the training scenarios including Handley Volunteer Fire Department of Handley, W.Va. Credit: NAFTC

“These videos will show a 360-degree operation of approaching and assessing the scene of an accident involving an advanced technology vehicle,” Schmidt added. “We were excited to have members of 130th Air Lift Wing out of Charleston participate as first responders and provide us with emergency demonstrations for the footage.”

The videos will accompany future training sessions for first responders.

“NAFTC’s training sessions featuring this new video footage will bring the opportunity to reach more first responders and provide training for them on how to properly respond to an emergency involving an advanced technology vehicle,” Schmidt continued. “With this training, we hope to contribute to promoting the safety of our first responders and the overall public safety of our communities.”

Schmidt and NAFTC trainer Gary Garrisi, a firefighter and Yuba College instructor, led workshops for the first responder and military operations officials at the Center for National Response. The two-day training sessions were comprised of four sessions including advanced electric drive training, a first responder demonstration, a hands-on advanced electric demonstration and train-the-trainer education for dealing with the media.

Participants included first responders throughout West Virginia, members of the 130th Airlift Wing of the West Virginia National Guard and employees of the Center for National Response. The NAFTC members who attended included Alfred State College, Gateway Community College, James B. Dudley High School, Lawson State Community College, Nash Community College and Yuba College.

inside tunnel

NAFTC trainers were on hand to demonstrate various advanced technology vehicles inside the Memorial Tunnel. Credit: NAFTC

Training participants offered positive feedback about the workshops.

“The AED Vehicle Education Program First Responder Safety Training has provided me with so much valuable, cutting edge information that I will take it back to my home station,” said participant Joel Feltner, deputy chief, paramedic and exercise planner with the Nuttall Fire Department and the Center for National Response. “Our SOGs (standard operating guidelines) will be improved so that my firefighters and rescuers will respond with better knowledge, and their safety as well as their patients’ safety will be improved.”

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