BANGOR, Maine – Eastern Maine Community College last week opened a new space to train future firefighters, EMTs and law enforcement personnel for the first time all under the same roof.
The Maine Community College System board of trustees toured the new Public Safety Training Center Wednesday morning before its meeting in Bangor.
The 12,000-square-foot facility on Hogan Road is the former home to The Maine Jump and, before that, World Over Imports. After The Maine Jump, an indoor inflatable play place, shut down in late 2013, the building sat vacant for more than a year until EMCC approached the city about buying the building, which is close to the main campus.
EMCC bought the building for $1 million, according to EMCC Director of Administrative Services Dan Belyea, and used about $2.4 million in bond funds to renovate and convert the large, open space into classrooms, labs and offices.
“They’re going to be able to practice in a controlled environment that will help give them a taste of the real thing,” Belyea told the trustees.
The new building features four classrooms, a simulation lab, meeting spaces and brings the offices of school officials responsible for the fire science, EMS and criminal justice programs under the same roof. Before this, those programs were scattered in locations across the campus.
This will help build collaboration among the programs in a field where cooperation is key, according to Chris Beaumont, chairman of the fire science program at the college. Many fire departments also expect their firefighters to be trained as EMTs, for example, and some municipalities are hiring public safety directors, rather than having separate police and fire chiefs.
“Now we all share this space together,” Beaumont said.
EMCC has 80 students between the three programs, according to the school.
One room features a simulator lab, where students training for law enforcement can practice situations in which they have to decide whether to use force and how to react to stressful situations.
Another room features the back of an ambulance, which was donated by Sugarloaf Ambulance/Rescue Vehicles. There, students can practice working on a patient in the confines of an ambulance. The lab is dedicated to Allan Parsons of Wilton, a paramedic who was killed in 2007 when the ambulance he was riding in was struck by a drunken driver.
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