Gateway opens HERO Center in Burlington for firefighter training

Tour of Duty member Paul Ritchie, center, and Gateway Technical College President Bryan Albrecht hand Gateway welding instructor Mike Skender, left, a photo of the World Trade Center wreckage while fellow Tour of Duty member Dan Steffens reads a New York Port Authority proclamation at the podium commending Gateway for its monument, “On Eagles Wings.”

Gateway Technical College’s new HERO Center represents its commitment and responsibility to support the area’s emergency response workers with the best training, equipment, facility and educational opportunities possible to keep communities safe.

It’s also an illustration of how solid training, leadership standards and a national educational model can be created through partnerships with industry leaders such as those forged at the HERO Center, speakers said at the center’s opening ceremony 11 a.m. Friday, at 380 McCanna Parkway in Burlington.

“This center is more than a building,” said Gateway Technical College President Bryan Albrecht. “It is a reminder that it is our responsibility to provide and support these professionals with the best training and experiential learning possible, so that they are prepared and when ‘that moment’ faces them, they can perform like no other.”

The HERO Center – Health and Emergency Response Occupations – is a state-of-the-art facility which will provide added opportunities for EMS students and firefighters to receive realistic, hands-on training. It consists of an 8,700-square-foot addition to the existing 12,000-square-foot-building near Gateway’s Burlington Center.

The HERO Center provides access to real-life, scenario-based training, disaster simulation and technology-equipped classroom instruction. A few of the many training features include:

  • Staged scenarios in several breakout rooms that simulate real-world emergencies in settings like industrial areas, kitchens, second-floor apartments or even a medical facility.
  • Simulated emergency command that allows firefighters to gain leadership skills as they implement procedures, along with “soft skills” training just as important for today’s leaders and managers.
  • Opportunities for EMS students to train on simulated scenarios encompassing a broad spectrum of patient care – from treating a computerized “patient” in a living room to loading them into a working ambulance and then bringing them back to the HERO Center and into a simulated emergency room.
  • Training for firefighters on a number of simulated emergency and fire situations, providing them with the skills to more efficiently perform their job and protect themselves and the public.
  • A 911 Dispatcher/Telecommunications Officer Training Center aligned with APCO national industry standards will include a pre-assessment on such skills as multi-tasking, data entry, and prioritization, along with hands-on learning using simulators for those seeking employment along with continuing professional education for incumbent workers.

Burlington Fire Chief Dick Lodle told the audience gathered at the outside event that emergency services workers and leaders recognize the need for the initial training and continual upgrading of their skills – and that quality training will be offered at the HERO Center.

“I would like to quote an old and very familiar saying in the fire service: ‘While others are running out of a burning building, the first responders are rushing in,’” Lodle said. “This facility clearly illustrates that Gateway Technical College has not only positioned itself to respond with a commitment to the educational needs of our emergency services professionals, but it is ‘rushing in’ – if you will – to lead the way as a national model for emergency services training.”

Gateway has partnered with several companies in the development of the HERO Center, including Pierce Manufacturing, Medtec Ambulance Corporation and SimplexGrinnell.

“Pierce and Medtec understand the importance of hands-on training and education. We’re proud to work with the HERO Center to provide the resources and expertise to develop and enhance firefighters’ and first responders’ leadership and professional skills,” said Jim Johnson, Oshkosh Corporation executive vice president and president, Fire & Emergency. “We are honored that we played a role in bringing this state-of-the-art center from the drawing board to reality.”

Pierce Manufacturing and Medtec Ambulance Corporation are part of Oshkosh Corporation’s Fire and Emergency Segment. The event featured the dedication of a HERO Center monument, “On Eagles Wings,” paying tribute to emergency response workers. The monument will include a piece of the World Trade Center pulled from the wreckage caused by the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Two members of Tour of Duty – Paul Ritchie, lead firefighter of the Melbourne Fire Battalion from Melbourne, Australia, and Dan Steffens, New York Port Authority police officer – helped dedicate the monument. The two are part of a group of 36 runners and support team members from the United States and Australia running across America to pay tribute to the fallen emergency responders of Sept. 11.


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