ASHEVILLE NC – Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College and Buncombe County are dedicating a new $5.9 million building Tuesday that will house A-B Tech’s emergency services programs.
The new, 41,000-square-foot structure was built at the county Public Safety Training Campus in Woodfin. Officials will hold a ribbon cutting ceremony at 11 a.m.
“This classroom building is building on a vision that will set A-B Tech apart from the rest of the state and the southeast,” said Skye Myrick, dean of emergency services for A-B Tech.
One thing that sets the building apart is its location on the 30-acre campus which has a driving track, burn buildings and other structures for hands-on emergency training, Myrick said. Those other facilities opened in 2012.
The new building includes classroom space as well as lab space for emergency sciences such as a cardiac lab.
It also includes a “crime scene apartment” that can be used to replicate real-life scenarios. The space include a fuming hood for processing of fingerprints.
“In the Hemlock building, we had a crime scene lab, but this is much more state-of-the-art than we had in the Hemlock building,” Myrick said. “And since we’ve been out of the Hemlock building, we have not had a crime scene lab.”
The emergency services programs moved out of the Hemlock building in 2011 after lead contamination from a firing range was discovered inside that building. The programs are currently housed on the Enka campus.
The new building will house fire services technology, criminal justice, basic law enforcement, emergency medical sciences and critical care transport. It will allow A-B Tech’s Emergency Services Division to grow by 2.5 percent annually, according to Myrick.
A-B Tech’s Emergency Services Division includes both curriculum programs and continuing education. The division has 565 curriculum students and 6,700 professional continuing education students, according to Myrick.
“We will start some of our professional continuing education classes the week of Oct. 27th,” Myrick said. “And then all of our curriculum will move out here in January.”
“It’s going to be really exciting for people to see when we have all of our students here in the building,” she said.
One feature is a “tiny town,” a model that allows emergency services personnel to practice responding to an emergency.
“It looks like a train set or a model set someone would have at their home, and it’s very much like that,” said Tommy Brooks, fire coordinator for A-B Tech’s Emergency Services Division.
But in this setting, instructors can use the model to stage an accident.
“We can also use the structures to establish a fire scene where we have a structure on fire. The fire officers will come in. They will stage their equipment just as if they were in a real incident. Except they can do it here, make the mistakes, correct those and then when they go on the real call, they will recall those actions they had to take. Things that worked, things that didn’t,” Brooks said.
Brooks said the new facility was needed.
“They can come here, they can start teaching a ropes class inside the classroom then go to the training center and put it to actual use. It’s very valuable to have this,” he said.
The new facility is one of several projects being paid for with the sales tax approved by voters in 2011.