SALISBURY, NC (WBTV) - Rowan-Cabarrus Community College is excited to partner with local law enforcement, fire and rescue, and emergency medical services to bring a new interactive, mobile driving simulator to Rowan and Cabarrus Counties.
This technology provides risk-free training for fire fighters, law enforcement, emergency medical services and truck driver trainees.
"Police cars, fire trucks 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 Rowan-Cabarrus.
According to statistics released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the number of accidents involving public safety vehicles such as police cars, fire trucks and ambulances is a significant issue. Emergency responders are nearly five times more likely 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 a million dollar fire truck."
The simulators can switch between different vehicles, turning from an 18-wheeler into a different kind of fire truck, 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. "We are very fortunate to have the support of Dr. Spalding and Roger McDaniel."
The operator can use one of the 200 scenarios that are already pre-programmed, or control the scenario by building out special situations specific to the individual or the training exercise. They can add glare to the windshield, ice on the road, wind, or 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 actually moves and shifts 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 chair 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, please contact Roger McDaniel at 704-216-3501. For more information about Rowan-Cabarrus Community College, please visit www.rccc.edu or call 704-216-RCCC (7222).