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RCCC gets new driving simulator for emergency services training

SALISBURY — Rowan-Cabarrus Community College is partnering with local law enforcement, fire departments, and rescue and emergency medical services to bring an interactive mobile driving simulator to Rowan and Cabarrus counties. 

The technology provides risk-free training for firefighters, law enforcement officers, emergency medical technicians and truck driver trainees.  

“Police cars, firetrucks and ambulances often travel at higher speeds in emergency situations, so the accidents frequently result in severe injury or death to either those in the emergency vehicle or the civilian vehicle involved,” said Roger McDaniel, director of emergency services at the college.  

According to statistics released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the number of accidents involving public safety vehicles such as police cars, firetrucks and ambulances is a significant issue. Emergency responders are nearly five times likelier to suffer a fatality in their emergency vehicle than the national average.  

“This is a great new tool. We’ve partnered with Rowan-Cabarrus in the past when they’ve contracted out this kind of product for training, but now we all have access to our very own,” said Concord Fire Department Chief Ray Allen. “It is great for us to give folks more experience driving before we simply put them behind the wheel of a half-million-dollar firetruck.”  

The simulators can switch between vehicles, turning from an 18-wheeler into a different kind of firetruck, a police car or an ambulance.  

“This will not only help our public safety officers, but it will ultimately ensure the safety of the public on the road,” said Salisbury Fire Chief Bob Parnell. 

The operator can use one of 200 scenarios that are programmed or control a scenario by building situations specific to the individual or the training exercise. They can add glare to the windshield, ice on the road, or wind and even make the brakes fail or a tire blow out.   

“It allows us to simulate situations without the risk. It really feels like you’re driving this heavy piece of equipment. It makes you more comfortable when you actually get behind the wheel,” said McDaniel.  

While it might look like a cool video game, it is a real-world simulator. The platform moves to simulate what it would feel like to drive the vehicle. 

“This will give us a great way to address weaknesses of deficiencies without putting them on the road,” said Kannapolis Emergency Services Division Chief Tracy Winecoff. “We have continued to see an increased number of responses and increased traffic, so this will be a really great experience for our new drivers.”  

The simulators are stationed in a mobile trailer that has its own self-supporting generator. That way, the college can easily take the training on the road across both Rowan and Cabarrus counties.  

“We are thrilled to be able to make this available to our law enforcement agencies and to use it with our basic law enforcement training program,” said Chris Nesbitt, director of the college’s law enforcement training and program chairman of criminal justice technology. 

Thanks to the collaboration with L3 Communications, the college was able to get a great deal on the simulators, ending up with two training units that can be used simultaneously.  

For questions about this new technology or the public safety training at Rowan-Cabarrus, call Roger McDaniel at 704-216-3501.

For more information about Rowan-Cabarrus Community College, visit www.rccc.edu or call 704-216-7222. 

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